"Do what you love and the money will follow."
-- Marsha Sintar
Rick Hendrick has been in love with cars since childhood. It was a love that was kindled while he lived on his family's farm in Virginia where he worked on tractors and rebuilt old junk cars with his dad. He, like so many young men of his generation, dreamed about one day owning a Corvette and being the envy of his peers. Rick Hendrick achieved far more than that, however; he now owns a trophy room of some of the best cars ever made in America. In fact, with his net worth estimated at about $1 billion, he can buy any car he wants.
Do what you love...
Rick Hendrick turned his love of cars into a business right after college when he opened a small used-car lot and became its general sales manager. Not long after that he became the youngest Chevrolet dealer in the U.S., selling his used car lot to buy a fledgling dealership in South Carolina. He turned that dealership into one of the region's most profitable. His Hendrick Automotive Group now more owns than 80 dealership franchises across 10 states, making it the sixth largest auto dealership in the country.
However, Hendrick not only loved to drive cars, he loved to race them as well. In fact, he started drag racing at age 14, and turned that passion into a career by competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and the NASCAR Model Sportsman Series. He also started his own racing company in 1984 called All-Star Racing, and now owns the Hendrick Motorsports racing team.
Following the money
Many Americans can only dream about doing what they love for a living. However, if there is one thing that Rick Hendrick's story tells us, it is that big dreams can pay off. It takes a lot of hard work, and we might crash a time or two along the way, but perseverance can lead to tremendous gains.
From one single used car lot he built one of the largest auto dealership groups in the nation. His dealerships now sell more than 100,000 vehicles per year, generating more than $3.5 billion from those sales. It's a business that's now worth an estimated $650 million, contributing about two-thirds of his net worth.
However, in addition to building a valuable dealership group, he simultaneously built a very valuable racing group. While he only raced in four NASCAR races throughout his career, he was still able to do what he loved by forming and owning a racing team, making a lot of money in the process. In fact, Hendrick Motorsports is estimated to be the most valuable NASCAR team at $350 million according to Forbes. A lot of that value comes from winning: Hendrick Motorsports has won 11 championships thanks to well-known winning drivers Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Last year alone the team brought in $180 million in revenue -- $23 million from winnings -- and had total operating income of $14.4 million, making Hendrick a winner both on and off the track.
Rick Hendrick turned his passion for cars into a winning career. He started off small, but through hard work built an auto empire. He also pursued his passion for racing and made millions, not based on his ability to win races, but on hiring the very best drivers and owning the business that derived income from their winnings. It's a reminder to us that following our dreams can pay off big time.
Matt DiLallo has no position in any stocks mentioned, however, he did buy his last car from Hendrick Automotive Group and therefore contributed to Mr. Hendrick's personal net worth. The Motley Fool recommends General Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.