This year has been filled with awards and accolades for Charlie Langenstein, mechanical director for two of the Hendrick Motorsports championship teams, the No. 24 driven by Jeff Gordon and the No. 48 driven by Jimmie Johnson.
Not only did Langenstein win the most coveted award in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing this year with three-peat Championship driver Jimmie Johnson, but he was also inducted earlier in the year to the Dirt Motorsports Hall of Fame.
But no accolade is sweeter to Charlie Langenstein than the Papa Joe Hendrick Award of Excellence, bestowed just a few weeks ago at the Hendrick Motorsports Christmas Party.
This award is the highest honor that can be achieved by any employee at Hendrick Motorsports. As Langenstein remarked, "I feel so honored to be considered, let alone to win this award. I look at this as the "Heisman Trophy" in motorsports."
The Papa Joe Hendrick Award of Excellence was founded in 1995 to honor a Hendrick Motorsports employee displaying leadership, teamwork, job performance and exceeding expectations to achieve the goals of the company. It bears the name of Hendrick Motorsports legend, Papa Joe.
Others who have received the Papa Joe award include Kenny Schrader, Rick Wetzel, Robert Thorpe, Jim Wall, Dan Lohwasser, Dennis Connor, Jim McKenzie, Rick Hendrick, Brian Whitesell and Ken Howes.
In 2004, the award was given to those team members lost in the plane crash, including Randy Dorton, Jennifer Hendrick, John Hendrick, Kimberly Hendrick, Ricky Hendrick, Joe Jackson, Scott Lathram, Liz Morrison, and Jeff Turner.
Langenstein, a forty year racing veteran and nine year employee of HMS, was voted by his teammates and peers to join this most prestigious group of awardees.
"Words cannot express how much this means to me and my family and to be considered in the same sentence as Papa Joe Hendrick is quite an honor," said Langenstein.
The award was especially meaningful as Charlie had the pleasure of working with Papa Joe on the Jerry Nadeau No. 25 team and respected the elder Hendrick immensely.
Langenstein is active off the track as well, working with his wife Beth in raising money for children's charities. Their most beloved charity is the Riley and Friends Awareness Foundation, founded with love in honor of their daughter Riley, who was born with special needs.
In accepting the Papa Joe Hendrick Award of Excellence, Langenstein ended his remarks with these words, "I look at ALL of the 550 plus staff here at HMS and I consider each and every one of them champions".
Congratulations, Charlie, on your well-deserved recognition.