Webster’s Dictionary defines the word excellence in this manner - the
quality of being excellent; state of possessing good qualities in an
eminent degree; exalted merit; superiority in virtue.
Over the last 35 years, Richard Childress Racing has defined the
word excellence. Six NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championships, two Busch
Series titles along with a Truck Series crown is proof positive that RCR
will accept nothing short of the best.
But what sets RCR apart from the others? What has propelled
Childress’ teams to succeed? The answer is simple. People.
The Richard Childress Racing Network sat down with
Danny "Chocolate" Myers to talk about his years with RCR, to share stories and memories
about Dale Earnhardt, and to explain how exactly he got the nickname.
RCRN: Where did you get the name Chocolate?
"I was 10 years old and I played
on the Tiny Greyhound little league football team in Winston-Salem, NC.
I stayed outside and had a dark complexion. One day, the coach yelled,
"Catch the ball, Chocolate Drop." From that day forward I have been know
RCRN: What is your biggest accomplishment since you have
been at RCR?
biggest accomplishment is being a part of this team. I don't have any
personal accomplishments. The accomplishments here at Richard Childress
Racing have not been because of me or anyone else. It has been because
of this race team. I tell people the reason we have been so successful
over the years is because we started as a smaller team. Things have
changed and we realize that, but for a long time we had a core group of
guys. We didn't just like each other, we loved each other. We knew when
each other's wives were having a bad day. We knew when each of us was
having a birthday. Proportionally, racing has gotten bigger and bigger
and we have gotten away from that.
As a team,
the biggest accomplishments are winning six Cup championships, a couple
Busch championships and a championship in the trucks, but being a part
of a championship organization is my biggest accomplishment."
What are some of your best memories of Richard Childress?
DM: "Richard and I go back to the early
days at Bowman-Gray Stadium (race track), before I actually worked here.
We go back 36 or 37 years. The fact that Richard has been able to do
what he has done and the success he has had is just amazing. I don't
think that anyone else I know could have done it. He has been the guy
who has made it happen. It really gives me a lot of pride today when
people ask, "What does Richard have to do with this place anymore?" I
like to tell them that he is in that office working right now and so is
Judy (Childress) and they still put 100 percent into this place. Going
back to accomplishments, the man is a success."
RCRN: Do you have any
funny stories about Richard?
DM: "We had
such a good time together. It was about the time the life-size cutouts
were being made and we found one of Darrell Waltrip. We put it back in
Richard's office in the old shop, which is now the museum. Richard went
to turn the lights on in his office and that thing scared him to death
because he thought someone was really in there."
RCRN: What are some of
your best memories of Dale Earnhardt?
DM: "The fact
that Dale was a regular guy stands out the most in my mind. He was a
superhero to a lot of people, but to us he was just Dale and he stayed
like that throughout his life. He never gave up, we never gave up and no
one ever gave up.
racing in Richmond in the early days and we were running up front and
then there was a big wreck. It had been raining for two days and Dale
got off the track and into some mud near the start-finish line. The car
was absolutely covered in mud. He couldn't see out the windshield and
wanted to pit. Richard came over the radio and said that he didn't
really want to lose all of the track position with Dale pitting. Dale
came over the radio and said that he was going to be off the radio for a
This is all
under caution and we couldn't see what was going on where Dale was on
the racetrack because this was back before we had televisions in the
pits. We started to see the people in the grandstands standing up and
pointing. The NASCAR officials were hollering at us, telling us to get
Dale back in the car. He had undone his seatbelts and was sitting on the
door of his car cleaning the windshield with his sleeve. We never did
have to make a pit stop because he did that and we ended up finishing
second or winning the race.
That is the
kind of determination we had. We never left the building thinking that
we couldn't win a race. We always knew that when we went to the track,
we could win the race."
RCRN: How different was it
being a pit crew member in the early 1980s than it is now?
"I think what we are seeing now is pit crews are more important than
they have ever been. Now, we have a lot more cars running a whole lot
closer and we are seeing what happens on pit road means a whole lot
As far as a
difference between then and now, it looks like a lot, but I don't think
it is. Everyone still works hard on what they do. The thing about
racing, over the last 20 years, is the exposure and the money. When I
came to work here, there were probably a dozen of us. The guys who were
on the pit crew also worked on the car until the time the car went on
the line and then they pitted the car. You had your one core group of
guys who did everything. Once racing got bigger, and the money got
bigger, you were able to get more people and more specialized people.
I think with
racing being as big as it is now and the crews on television every week
instead of special events, these guys are starting to get a lot of
credit that they really deserve. All of those guys who did it before
them deserve credit as well."
RCRN: Tell me about the
Myers Brothers. For those who are new to NASCAR, who were they and what
were some of their achievements?
dad, Bob Myers and uncle,
Bill Myers were early pioneers of racing.
They started in the late 1940s and they were very successful. That was
back in the days of Glen Wood, Curtis Turner,
Fireball Roberts and all those legendary names you hear because
they got to stay around a little while longer to make themselves
My dad had
the opportunity to drive for Lee Petty and qualified second at the 1957
Southern 500 at Darlington. He lost his life in that race. My uncle Bill
was a Grand National driver and won a couple of races while driving for
the Mercury factory team. Less than a year after my dad lost his life,
my Uncle Bill was leading a race at Bowman-Gray Stadium, pulled into the
pits, laid his head on the steering wheel and died of a massive heart
Both of them
died at very early ages. My dad was only 31 or 32 years old and Bill was
a few years older. Those guys worked all of the time on those race cars.
Today, it is
still an honor for me because there is the Myers
Brothers Award that is given out at a breakfast during the NASCAR
Cup Championship Week in New York City. It's given to the person who has
contributed the most to racing for that year. If you look at the list of
people who have won that award, it is pretty neat because you have got
folks like Glen Wood, Lowe's Motor
Speedway, and the Hendricks.
Brothers Award is one thing that, before I finish my racing career, I
would like to be a part of. I would like the Myers Brothers Award go to
Richard Childress Racing. We almost won it
one time. We were in the running and I didn't even know it. We were in
New York City and Richard said that if we won it, he was going to let me
go up and accept the trophy. I never thought much about it until then,
but now I think about it a lot. I would like to see Richard Childress
Racing be recognized for what we do in racing and win the Myers Brothers
RCRN: What is your most
DM: "My dad was an early pioneer of
NASCAR and lost his life at Darlington. I always dreamed as a kid of
being a race car driver and going to Darlington and winning that race. I
found out at an early age that was not going to happen, but actually
being on a race team and winning Darlington for the first time was
really special to me.
there are so many more special races that are memorable. Winning Indy in
1995 and 2003, the Pass in the Grass, the Winston's. I can't say that
one is more special than the other, but being a part of winning so many
of the big races and special events are the memories that stand out in
someone the other day, "How many times can you say that you won every
single qualifying race at Daytona for 10 years straight. We won every
Twin-125 during the 1990s. Being a part of it and then saying, "We won
Daytona 25 or 30 times, but we only finished first once." We were always
a contender and ran up front at Daytona and so many times that race
slipped through our fingers. People would ask, "Think you'll ever win
Daytona?" For a long time I thought that winning Daytona was no
different than winning Charlotte or any other race. Then, to finally win
Daytona, you realize that Daytona isn't just another race, it is
RCRN: Did you ever think
NASCAR would be as popular as it is now when you were fueling the No. 3
car 20 years ago?
"It is hard for me to say that NASCAR has gotten big; to me it has
always been big in my life. The fans now are so different. We are
getting the doctors, lawyers and judges who think it is great. What I
really like about the sport is to see the women and families who enjoy
racing. We see families all of the time at the RCR Museum where the dad
may be wearing a Kevin Harvick hat, the mom has a Jeff Gordon hat and
the little girl has, of course, a Dale Jr. hat on. They all are into it
and love racing.
this sport provides to the fans is unreal. We are going all over the
country and giving people a chance to be exposed to racing. I think that
we are giving people the chance to get close to it and be exposed to it.
Richard Childress Racing Museum, we don't just have people from all over
the country, but from all over the world. We give people the chance to
get up close and personal to the items in the museum, but also what is
going on in the Cup shop and pit stop practice. I am sure other teams
are doing what we are doing, but not probably as much for the fans. It
makes our sport bigger and better."
RCRN: What do you do now
DM: "I'm in
charge of the Richard Childress Racing Museum. We have great people who
work there and we are all excited about the museum.
I also am in
charge of safety around the complex and I take care of the test tires.
Last year, I had a ton of vacation days left over, but I really didn't
want to take them. I just wanted to come to work. When you enjoy work,
as much as I do, it is such a neat thing."
RCRN: What items are in
the RCR Museum?
DM: "We have a museum that is the
original No. 3 Cup shop, the way it used to be. When fans come to the
museum, they are going to see a museum full of black No. 3 Goodwrench
If you're a
race fan, you are going to get a lump in your throat. If you are a Dale
Earnhardt fan, you'll get a tear in your eye.
Fans will see
something that Richard is proud of, which is the wildlife and
conservation area. The museum shows the 35-year history of Richard
Childress Racing, which includes, the 1998 Daytona 500 race car, some of
Richard's old cars when he was a driver and cars that won championships
with Kevin Harvick as a driver."