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An N.C. racing museum... Childress style

By Gary McCullough
Correspondent

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    Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday (closed Sundays). Admission: $12; $8 for 55 and over; $5 for ages 7-18; 6 and younger, free. Info: 800-476-3389; www.rcrracing.com.



Stock car racing fans are fortunate to have many team shops located within a short drive of uptown Charlotte. Not too far from the area is the Richard Childress Racing Museum in Welcome. Showcased here are cars driven to victory by the likes of Ricky Rudd, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Distance

Welcome is about 60 miles northeast of Charlotte, about a 75-minute drive.

To see and do

At its grand opening in May 2003 Gov. Mike Easley described the Richard Childress Racing Museum as “a North Carolina destination of distinction, a place of historic significance” – and it’s hard to take issue with that. The 47,000-square-foot facility encompasses what had been the original No. 3 race shop built in 1986 and used by the team from 1987 to 1999. The pairing of owner Richard Childress and driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 1984 resulted in what proved to be NASCAR’s most dominant team from the mid-1980s well into the 1990s. Earnhardt Sr. won the championship in NASCAR’s top series in 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994 – six times over nine years – with runner-up finishes in 1988 and 1989.

The museum includes the garage area, transporter bay, research and development shop, Hall of Champions and Trophy Room, and displays nearly four dozen race cars. Among them are the Daytona 500 winners driven by Earnhardt Sr. in 1998 and Kevin Harvick in 2007; the Piedmont Airlines-sponsored Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by Ricky Rudd to claim Richard Childress Racing’s first Winston Cup win at Riverside International Speedway on June 5, 1983; and the Wrangler-sponsored Monte Carlo driven by Earnhardt Sr. during his first two championship seasons with Childress, 1986 and 1987.

Also displayed is the first car driven by Childress at the famous track at Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem – a modified 1937 Plymouth coupe. Although the museum’s main focus is on auto racing, the building also houses the Richard Childress Wildlife and Conservation Gallery, filled with dozens of Childress’ hunting trophies displayed in dramatic settings. The gallery is included with admission to the museum.

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