Rick Hendrick says Jeff Gordon in line to take over Hendrick Motorsports

Combined, their organizations have won 1,338 races and 45 championships in NASCAR’s top three series.

Among their 770 Cup Series victories are 17 Daytona 500s, 19 Brickyard 400s, 24 Coca-Cola 600s and 34 at iconic Darlington Raceway. Clearly, team owners Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Joe Gibbs, Roger Penske, Richard Petty and Jack Roush know a thing or two about racing.

But each of these owners are past what many accept as retirement age: Hendrick is 69, Childress is 73, Roush is 76, Gibbs is 78, Penske and Petty are each 81.

Hendrick Motorsports

“I’ve gotta be out here at least one year longer than (fellow owner/automotive magnate) Roger Penske,” Hendrick said, grinning at the thought before adding, “No … just kidding.” He quickly got serious: “Really, I love this and still enjoy it so much, and it’s tied to my automotive businesses. My health is good, so I expect to be around for a long time.”

Until his death in a 2004 plane crash, Ricky Hendrick was poised to take over at HMS.

Nowadays, Hendrick is grooming 47-year-old Jeff Gordon-a four-time Cup champion and 93-time winner-as his successor. “That’s the way we’re going,” Hendrick said. “Whenever I finally step away, it’ll be Jeff Gordon in my place.”

Richard Childress Racing

“RC” turned 73 in the fall. It’s a youngish 73 to be sure, but it’s still 73, and in some ways, he seems as spry and competitive as when he incorporated in 1969.

“We have a succession plan in place,” he said. “I’d rather not go through it, but we have people who can take over if I’m not here. We had a plan when we lost Dale (Earnhardt) in 2001 and that helped us keep going. That taught me that anybody with a business or an organization has to have a succession plan. Ours includes family and people I trust and can count on.

Team Penske

As expected, nothing at Team Penske is left to chance. While 81-year-old Roger rules the realm, Tim Cindric and Mike Nelson do most of the heavy lifting on the racing side. But most indicators are that Greg Penske, the Captain’s 55-year-old son, will take the helm when his father retires.

See much more on other team owners at Autoweek.