Hendrick Motorsports marks 10-year anniversary of tragic plane crash
As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series kicked off the weekend at Martinsville Speedway, the Hendrick Motorsports organization did so with heavy hearts. Friday marks the 10th anniversary of a Hendrick Motorsports plane crash that claimed the live of all 10 people on board.
On Oct. 24, 2004 a Hendrick Motorsports Beech 200 King Air crashed seven miles from the Blue Ridge Regional Airport close to Martinsville Speedway after leaving Concord, N.C. earlier in the afternoon.
Those lost in the crash were Ricky Hendrick, John Hendrick, Kimberly Hendrick, Jennifer Hendrick, Joe Jackson, Jeff Turner, Randy Dorton, Scott Lathram, and pilots Richard Tracy and Elizabeth Morrison.
The losses hit especially close to home for team owner Rick Hendrick, as he lost his son Ricky, brother John and twin nieces Kimberly and Jennifer.
The unfortunate news broke shortly after Jimmie Johnson scored the victory that day at Martinsville Speedway. NASCAR learned of the incident during the race, but held the information from the four Hendrick drivers -- Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte and Brian Vickers -- until after the race, and Johnson was excused from the Victory Lane celebrations.
In the weeks that followed, the Hendrick Motorsports cars ran a special decal on the hood with "Always In Our Hearts" written above pictures of those lost in the wreck.
Since that day, each time a Hendrick Motorsports driver scores a win the team turns their hats backwards during Victory Lane pictures to remember Ricky Hendrick.
Marking the anniversary, Hendrick Motorsports' Jimmie Johnson said each of the team's four drivers simply want to go out and win on Sunday in order to honor the memory of those lost.
"For the four Hendrick drivers, we want to make those families smile," Johnson said Friday at Martinsville. "I've been able to win here in the fall and know that a lot of people take a lot of pride in that win. It means more to a few families more than it typically would. All four of us are here, ready and willing. Jeff Gordon showed what this race meant to him in the fall a few years ago with the spin with Clint (Bowyer) and myself, and what took place after that. This race means a lot to us Hendrick drivers. With or without the Chase, I want to be in the one carrying the trophy out of here to honor those families."
To remember those lost, each of the four Hendrick Motorsports cars is running the same decal placed on the hood in the weeks that followed the crash.
Jimmie Johnson will discuss the tragic plane crash in an exclusive interview on Sunday's NASCAR RaceDay on FOX Sports 1.