DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. — Sometimes, as he drives through his Welcome race team campus or his Lexington vineyards, racing legend Richard Childress admits he looks around and wonders how he built his Davidson County empire.
A kid from south Winston-Salem, Childress began his career as an employee at Douglas Battery and drove in small, local stock-car races. He would eventually become one of the state’s wealthiest and most successful residents, employing 400 at two racing companies and 100 more at Childress Vineyards.
“How the hell did all this stuff happen? I don’t know,” Childress said, before reflecting: “A lot of hard work. A lot of risk.”
At 78 years old, Childress may have slowed down a little, but he’s still active running myriad businesses, including Richard Childress Racing, ECR Technologies and Childress Vineyards. One of his little-known ventures is a partnership with Bill Gates to turn flare oils into liquid methane.
If his racing and business accomplishments weren’t enough to make him a legend of the Carolinas — his net worth is estimated at $250 million or more by several sources — he might still seem larger than life.
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