Darlington Throwback Scheme Honors Childers and South Carolina racing legends

Our racing roots are in the grass.

In the dirt, to be more specific. At late model tracks around the Carolinas, the Harrison’s name has adorned cars for four decades.

Now, you’ll find our name in NASCAR’s premier series. But you’ll still find that grassroots connection, as we’re proud to appear on the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford Mustang, with Josh Berry as the driver and Rodney Childers as the crew chief.

That grassroots connection will come to the forefront at the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway in May. The track’s annual throwback weekend, this year themed “Celebrate Our Roots Through Grassroots Racing”, will feature a Harrison’s-sponsored SHR No. 4 that commemorates Childers’ rookie year in Late Model Stock at Tri-County (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The throwback scheme was unveiled in a ceremony on April 9 at the South Carolina’s Governor’s Mansion.

Childers said he got about two feet into the car’s unveiling before the moment hit him.

“After that, I was just trying not to cry,” he said. “I didn’t know this was happening. It’s extremely special to me. Racing in South Carolina in the South Carolina Dirt Series and winning those seven state championships here and then moving on actually to this car, this scheme to run my rookie year at Tri-County Speedway, I sat on the pole 10 times and won 11 races that first year.”

With grassroots racing as this year’s throwback theme, Childers said he expected some blasts from the past in the late model realm. Just not this one.

“I figured there would be a lot of late model schemes,” he said. “I really didn’t picture one of them being mine. I kind of assumed ours would look like Josh’s the year he won the National Championship in the Weekly Racing Series. I thought that was what we were going to see when we pulled that cover off. To see my old car was a shock to me. It was all I could do not to cry. It’s a special day for me to see this thing, and to be able to race it at Darlington is going to be extremely special.”

It's pretty special to Berry, too.

“I think as soon as you hear that it’s going to be a throwback, your gears get turning and you start thinking about how you can use that,” Berry said. “Obviously the throwback to one of Rodney’s late model cars that he was so successful in is really cool. Big shoutout to our partner Harrison’s, and thank them for everything they do and allowing this to be possible. We’re excited to get on track here in a couple weeks.

In addition to featuring the look of Childers’ early ride, the throwback scheme features a tribute to a pair of legendary short track facilities in the Greenville-Pickens Speedway and the Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds Speedway, both cradles of the sport. The names of the four NASCAR Hall of Fame members from Spartanburg – David Pearson, Bud Moore, Cotton Owens, and Rex White – adorn the hood, while the deck lid features more names instrumental to both racing in the Upstate of South Carolina and NASCAR in general, with Ned Jarrett, Tim Flock, Fireball Roberts, Buck Baker, Lee Petty, and Junior Johnson all represented.

The throwback scheme has South Carolina roots from nose to tail.

Childers is no stranger to the Palmetto State, having forged a career in the World Karting Association, with a lot of the competition coming in South Carolina.

“Being born and raised in North Carolina, and racing a lot in South Carolina as a kid, the South Carolina dirt series is where it was at. That’s where the most competition was, and the biggest trophies, and all that stuff when I was a kid, so that’s where we went. There were a lot of great go-kart tracks around, and a lot of competitive people. I have a lot of great memories of doing that stuff.”

Childers’ talent was apparent, and he got a chance to compete at the highest level early on.

“I was really fortunate,” he said. “When I was 14 years old, I got a call to go drive for a factory team, and once you start driving for a factory team you’re involved in every single part of it: what tubing are we using, what spindles are we using, caster, camber, axle thickness, everything. You start learning all that stuff at a young age and start making those decisions and making a new frame every week and going and testing and figuring out what all that did. Really without all that, I wouldn’t have made it to where I am today. It was a huge key of just learning all that stuff at a young age and starting to figure it out, and being around a lot of good people was a big part of it, too.”

Childers spent much of his career with Kevin Harvick, himself a grassroots racer. Adding Berry to the mix has been a lot of fun, and the two seem to understand each other well. Even the language of racers is different when you have someone who knows exactly what you mean.

“That part is really fun,” Childers said. “Being able to talk about late models and talk about tires and stagger and doing all the things that we’ve done our whole lives, there are so many similarities in all that stuff. Whether I drove a late model stock car in 1998 to 2001 and Josh doing it the last 10 years or whatever, those cars haven’t really changed a lot. They haven’t gone through what the Cup cars went through in such a hurry. They’re still very much like what they were back then, and it makes us communicate well and be able to talk about that stuff. And going and doing some late model races together has been a lot of fun to kind of help that communication also.”

More than that, though, Berry’s presence and ability is something that made Childers, who had planned to step away at the same time as Harvick, want to stick around.

“The biggest thing for me was just being around Josh,” he said. “I’ve been a huge fan of Josh for many years. He’ll tell you, we didn’t even know each other and I’d send him direct messages through Twitter and Instagram and stuff telling him good job, or that pass was awesome, or whatever. I just admired him, and I loved what he was doing and where he was going. When he finally got his shot, I was pretty wound tight. I was excited for Josh, and excited for our sport. What we need are grassroots racers like him being able to move up and not make it on family money. Just to go out there and make it purely on talent and prove yourself.”


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