Richard Childress learned a valuable lesson in the 1970s when it came to getting into a brawl. Take off your watch.
“We used to go out to the bars and have a good time and everything,” Childress recalled on this week’s Dale Jr. Download (airs today at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN). “We were up at an old bar at Daytona one night and a big fight broke out. I happened to be in it. I had a Rolex. First Rolex I ever had in my life. I lost it in that fight. Ever since that you always take your watch off.”
That creed is now synonymous with Childress thanks to a 2011 altercation with Kyle Busch.
But the buildup to that confrontation began the previous year in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“We were running for the (Cup) championship,” Childress said. “The 18 (Busch) was kind of holding Kevin (Harvick) up. Kevin wrecked him coming off of (Turn) 4.
“That night, hell, I was good friends with Kyle. We were eating at a place and him and I think his girlfriend at the time, this was before he got married, and a guy from Toyota was there. (Toyota) had won the (Truck) championship.”
Childress went over to congratulate them on the Truck championship.
“You know I’m going to wreck your car?” Busch said, according to Childress.
“What do you mean?” Childress asked.
“Kevin wrecked me today. I’m going to wreck your car,” Busch repeated.
“What you need to do is wreck his Xfinity car, don’t wreck my car,” Childress said.
“Nope, I got to do it in Cup,” Busch said, according to Childress.
That didn’t sit well with Childress.
“If you wreck my car I’m going to whip your ass,” he told Busch.
Six months later, Busch and Harvick were in a wreck in the closing laps at Darlington. The fallout spilled onto pit road, where Harvick reached into Busch’s car and Busch sped away, pushing Harvick’s car into the pit wall.
“So they carried us over in the (NASCAR) trailer,” Childress said. “Got on to all four of us. I think Joe (Gibbs) was in there. Kyle and me and Kevin. I just told them what I was going to do and I kept my word.”
Three race weekends later, Busch was upset by how RCR driver Joey Coulter raced him in the closing laps of the Truck Series event at Kansas Speedway. That led to Busch rubbing fenders with him on the cool down lap.
Afterward, a watchless Childress confronted Busch in the garage and put him in a headlock
During Childress’ visit to the Dale Jr. Download, he also recalled a feud from Dale Earnhardt’s heyday.
Childress doesn’t remember how the late 1980s rivalry between Earnhardt and Geoff Bodine started, but he’s sure of one thing.
“It was one of those deals where whatever he gave that guy, Bodine, he deserved,” Childress said. “It was one of them deals we didn’t want to be run over and they started it. In my opinion, he started it. Once it started, we wasn’t going to be the ones to give up. Mr. France helped us give up.”
“Mr. France” was Bill France, Jr., the president of NASCAR at the time who played a hand in diffusing the rivalry that inspired Cole Trickle and Rowdy Burns’ feud in the 1990 film, Days of Thunder.
“A lot of the story part was true,” Childress recalled. “But it didn’t all go down like that. I remember Bill France bringing us in there and telling us, ‘I want to see you guys running and if you have to run on each side of the race track, you’re not going to get together again.’ He said, ‘You’re not going to destroy our sport.'”
There is one detail about the film, which Childress has only seen once, that he took issue with.
“They had some fat guy doing me as the owner (actor Randy Quaid) and I didn’t like that,” Childress said.