Richard Childress Racing celebrates 45th ‘birthday’

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If you see Richard Childress this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, wish him happy birthday.

Actually, wish him happy birthday twice.

Childress turns 69 on September 21, but he’s celebrating a different kind of birthday this weekend: the 45th anniversary of the birth of his namesake Richard Childress Racing.

RCR opened up shop on this weekend in August 1969, just before Childress, then just 23-years-old, made his NASCAR debut as a race car driver on Sept. 14, 1969 at Talladega Superspeedway.

He would go on to make 285 starts as a driver before ending his driving career to become a full-time team owner.

And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Although Childress never reached victory lane as a driver, he’s enjoyed 105 Sprint Cup wins as a team owner, as well as six career championships, all by the late Dale Earnhardt.

RCR also has earned 69 wins and four Nationwide Series championships (two by Kevin Harvick, one each by Clint Bowyer and grandson Austin Dillon), as well as 31 wins and two championships (Mike Skinner and Austin Dillon) in the Camping World Truck Series.

The team issued a media release commemorating the event, which read in-part:

“Over the next 45 days, RCR will showcase photographs, personal stories and interviews from those who have been with the organization throughout the years.

“Starting Sunday August 17, @RCRracing and http://www.rcrracing.com will feature daily throwbacks showcasing moments that shaped the motorsports organization. The content will also highlight the evolution of the team and technology to today’s drivers and those who call the shots each weekend at the track 45 years later.

“Fans will also be able to read stories from those who have been with the company from its inception, reliving multiple championships, wins and iconic races over the past 45 years.”

Fans can share their own favorite RCR highlights on Twitter at #RCR45.

Happy 45th birthday, RCR. You don’t look a day over 30.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

Follow @KyleMLavigne