Rick Hendrick is one of the most powerful men in NASCAR. As the owner of Hendricks Motorsports, his team has won eight Sprint Cup titles and currently includes Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. as some of the team’s drivers. Hendrick is also very close friends with former North Carolina Governor Mike Easley, and the friendship between the two could put both of them in some hot water.
(Rick Hendrick (left) with former governor Mike Easley)
It seems that while Easley was in office he did a few favors for Hendrick while Hendrick did a few favors for Easley as well. Easley gave Hendrick some tax breaks on his race team and car dealerships, and then Hendrick would give Easley’s wife a $30,000 car to ride around in for free, or trips to one of Hendrick’s homes on his personal jet.
From THE NEWS & OBSERVER:
Records obtained by The News & Observer show that Easley traveled last year on a Hendrick racing team jet to Hendrick’s retreat on a Florida island. Hendrick paid for the trip, he says.
The records also show that former first lady Mary Easley has been driving a new $30,000 Honda Accord that the Easleys didn’t buy. It belongs to one of Hendrick’s Charlotte dealerships, which bought it in the final week of Easley’s administration.
Racing businesses owned by Hendrick and others have received tax breaks for corporate jet fuel and other government help, sometimes with Easley’s assistance.
Easley’s wife isn’t the only member of the family with a free ride either, as apparently his son is driving around in a truck that’s also owned by a dealer. The Easleys say that their son’s car is leased, but there’s no record in North Carolina’s DMV showing such a lease has ever existed.
In return, Hendrick has been a vice president in an industry group who has been pushing racing-friendly legislation since 2004.
As for what this all means and if there will be any kind of charges filed in the future, I have no idea. Nothing along those lines are mentioned in the article. All I know is that if Rod Blagojevich was North Carolina’s Governor he would have held out for a lot more than a $30,000 Accord.
He’d have probably wanted to replace Jimmie Johnson.