CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The four Hendrick family members killed
in a plane crash were remembered Thursday as kind, generous people
who were as passionate about giving as they were about racing.
Rick Hendrick, founder of the prestigious Hendrick Motorsports
company that fields five NASCAR teams, lost his brother, son, and
two nieces when a company plane crashed Sunday en route to a race
in Martinsville, Va., killing all 10 people on board.
The 2,000 seats in the sanctuary at Central Church of God were
filled an hour before the ceremony began, sending another 2,000
mourners into three overflow rooms to watch the service on closed
Spread out among the four rooms were Gov. Mike Easley, Carolina
Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, NASCAR chairman Brian France and
scores of drivers, crew chiefs, Hendrick employees and other
members of the racing community.
With no reserved seating, the rich and famous in attendance
mingled with average people, a clear Hendrick family trait in that
everyone was treated equally.
"If you had a chance to meet the family, then you were like
family,'' said Kenny Crosswhite, a pastor with Motor Racing
Ricky Hendrick, Hendrick's 24 year-old-son, was remembered as a
loving brother who took the most pleasure from the relationships in
"Ricky focused on real stuff -- like his family, his friends,
his goals and his dreams,'' Lynne Carlson, his sister, said in her
eulogy. "Instead of taking life too seriously, he chose to take
love and giving seriously.''
Ricky briefly embarked on his own racing career, turning down
offers of lavish gifts from his father to find a safer profession.
A shoulder injury led him to retire in late 2002, and he moved to
the business side of racing, where he was being groomed to someday
take over the family business.
He was owner of Brian Vickers' Nextel Cup car, and the Busch
series car driven by Kyle Busch. Despite everything he had at such
a young age, his sister said Ricky was unassuming and generous to
"Ricky stayed true to his values and didn't complicate his life
with things that didn't matter,'' she said. "I saw just about
anything a person can dream of come and go in his life, and it
never changed who he was ... his life was richer than that.''
Hendrick's brother, John, was remembered not for his role as
president of the company, but for his strength, faith, charity work
and love of his family.
"He was almost embarrassed by his success. He stayed out of the
limelight,'' Pastor Phil Divine said.
Divine told about John Hendrick's Christmas Eve tradition of
taking his wife and three daughters to Lancaster, S.C., to create
Christmas for the underprivileged.
His twin 22-year-old daughters, Kimberly and Jennifer, were
remembered as polite ladies who shied away from the Hendrick family
"If there were two perfect children in the world, it probably
would have been Jennifer and Kimberly,'' Divine said.
Also killed in the crash were Joe Jackson, an executive with
DuPont; Jeff Turner, general manager of Hendrick Motorsports; Randy
Dorton, the team's chief engine builder; Scott Lathram, a pilot for
NASCAR driver Tony Stewart; and pilots Richard Tracy and Elizabeth
Dorton's memorial service was held earlier Thursday, and his
family requested mourners to wear red, his favorite color. His
engine shop employees went straight from Dorton's service to the
Hendrick memorial in their red company shirts.
Jimmie Johnson, who won the race Sunday and was not told of the
plane crash until after it was over, spoke at Dorton's service.
"On the way home Sunday night, so many things went through my
mind and racing seemed so insignificant,'' he said. "But I can say
in a weird way on Sunday afternoon, I was fortunate enough to win
that race and that trophy will be in my house, knowing of all those
loved ones on the airplane, thinking of Randy especially, I am just
very proud to have been able to do that.''