Many NASCAR competitors can trace their racing roots to family members, those from a generation or so removed who raced on either the local or national stage.
Daniel Hemric, driver of the Richard Childress Racing No. 8 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, has a different sports heritage. And it’s a fitting one to note this weekend as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four gets under way in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Hemric, 28, will start 26th in Sunday’s Food City 500 here at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Race fans might not recognize the name Dickie Hemric. He never won the Southern 500 or the Daytona 500 or any other legendary NASCAR event. But Dickie Hemric etched his name in the record books of both the NCAA as well as the NBA.
“He was my grandfather’s first cousin,” Daniel Hemric told the NASCAR Wire Service. “My grandfather, my dad’s dad, I think he was six-foot three, six-four. Obviously, Dickie Hemric (at 6’6”) was in that realm. (The height gene) definitely skipped me.”
Dickie Hemric held the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) scoring record for 50 years, totaling 2,587 points as a Wake Forest Demon Deacon. He was named player of the year during the first two seasons of the ACC’s existence (1954-55). The mark stood until 2006 when it was finally broken by J.J. Reddick of Duke University.
His 1,802 career rebounds still stands as a conference record.
A third-team All-American as a junior and a second-team All-American selection as a senior, Hemric was a member of the Boston Celtics’ first championship-winning team in 1956-57.
Daniel Hemric had no idea of his relative’s exploits on the court until taking in a college game with current RCR teammate Austin Dillon and younger brother Ty Dillon.
“I found out about it, believe it or not, this goes way back,” Hemric recalled. “Almost 13 years ago. I went to my first college basketball game and I went with Austin and Ty. We went to see North Carolina and Wake Forest. We get there inside the arena and I see Hemric hanging from the rafters, the jersey. I had no idea.
“It was something I started doing a little research on after I got out of that situation. It was pretty cool to find out.”
Racing won out over other endeavors when he suffered a knee injury as a teenager.
“That’s something that sidelined me a little bit, led me to staying on four wheels, sitting in the seat,” he said. “I figured that was my path and my knee showed me that. So that’s what I ended up doing.”