UPDATE – Congrats to Emily Maynard for being named The Bachelorette for Season 8!
Millions of viewers will be tuned in Monday night when the 15th season of ABC’s reality romance competition The Bachelor premieres at 8/7c featuring Brad Womack taking a second stab at finding true love among 30 beautiful women assembled from all over North America. For most of the women contestants it will be the first time they will find themselves in the national spotlight, but the same cannot be said for Emily Maynard, a 24-year-old blond beauty originally from Morgantown, West Virginia.
Emily’s tragic story and triumphant recovery is covered in detail in this installment of The Bachelor Files.
Emily Maynard was engaged to former NASCAR Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series driver Ricky Hendrick for about six months when he died tragically in a plane crash. Ricky was traveling with nine others to a race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia on October 24, 2004. From Catchfence.com:
En route from North Carolina to Martinsville Speedway to watch the Subway 500, which would later be triumphed by Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson, the plane apparently trickled into dense fog, before slamming into the Bull Mountain area tragically killing all ten passengers aboard.
^ Emily Maynard and her deceased fiance Ricky Hendrick
Among the members of the Hendrick Motorsports racing team who died was Ricky’s uncle (and team president) John Hendrick and his twin daughters, Kimberly and Jennifer Hendrick. The crash was a devastating blow to one of the most respected families in NASCAR. But, just when things were at their darkest, they were given a small ray of light thanks to Ricky’s 19-year-old fiance Emily Maynard.
Ricky’s father Rick Hendrick talked with Scene Daily in June of 2005:
“Emily came over to the house the night after the memorial service and told us [Hendrick and his wife, Linda] she was pregnant,” Hendrick said. “At the lowest time of our life, it was like a miracle that happened for us because we get a chance to have a piece of Ricky left.”
“I can’t describe how happy and how excited we are,” Hendrick said. “We can’t wait to see that baby’s eyes. When she told us, it was hard to even believe. It was like God had given us back something. We had lost so much.”
Emily Maynard gave birth to daughter Josephine Riddick “Ricki” Hendrick on June 29, 2005.
^ Emily Maynard’s daughter Josephine Riddick “Ricki” Hendrick
Since giving birth to little Ricki, Emily has used her connections to NASCAR to further her career in broadcast journalism. She was first a host of the Speed Channel’s podcast Emily On The Scene in 2006, and later hosted the nationally televised behind-the-scenes series Three Wide Life.
At the time of being cast on The Bachelor 15, Emily Maynard was working as an event coordinator at the Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, N.C.. The hospital includes the Ricky Hendrick Centers for Intensive Care, a pediatric intensive-care facility named for Ricky after his father Rick Hendrick and mother Linda Hendrick donated $3 million to the hospital.
Emily Maynard’s name surfaced in the tabloids in late 2006 when rumors linked her to NASCAR driver Dale Earhardt, Jr. The National Enquirer went so far as to announce that the two were engaged in this story from their January 29, 2007 issue (Click to enlarge):
The 2007 story was completely bogus but it does appear as though Emily and Dale, Jr. dated for a brief while prior to Emily dating Ricky Hendrick. There is no absolute concrete proof one way or the other, but here is a photo of Emily Maynard and Dale Earhardt, Jr. together from an unknown time period:
UPDATE: Thanks to the emails from a couple Dale Jr. fans I have a bit of clarification regarding his relationship with Emily. According to one of the emailers, “They never officially declared themselves a couple, but did go out together and spend a lot of time with one another in early 2006.” Another emailer said that Dale and Ricky Hendrick were friends and that’s why she felt comfortable approaching him, because she thought Ricky would have approved. (Thanks so much readers! I should have known a post having anything to do with NASCAR would get an immediate response with people in the know!)
I can’t imagine Emily Maynard won’t instantly win over Brad Womack and make it far this season! In addition to being absolutely gorgeous, she’s overcome a crippling tragedy and has emerged a strong woman with a beautiful young 5-year-old daughter. And with her background in journalism she will most certainly come off well on television, which in addition to all her other positive qualities should help her win over television audiences as well.
I think her odds are very good at walking home with that final rose. If not, I think we may be seeing that beautiful face again this summer when Emily Maynard takes her own stab at romance as The Bachelorette!
Here’s a photo sent in by a reader from a Ricky Hendrick Facebook fan page with Emily proudly showing off what looks to be an amazing engagement ring:
Here is a YouTube video slideshow of Emily Maynard and Ricky Hendrick photos, followed by excerpts from an interview with Nashville Lifestyles’ “Single In The City” from 2009 to close things out. If you have any other info on or photos of Emily you would like to share please drop us a line at starcasmtips (at) yahoo.com! (We welcome and encourage positive comments!)
What three words describe you best?
Free spirit, real and honest
What three words describe your ideal partner?
Funny, laid back and modest
^ Emily Maynard poses for a Three Wide Life promo photo
What trait or habit would keep you from going on a second date with someone?
Obviously I wouldn’t go out with someone who was disrespectful, but also I’d say no to someone who had nothing to say. Nothing is worse than an awkward silence.
Where do you spend time, aside from work, by yourself?
I love putting on a baseball hat and going to the movies in my pajamas. Other that that, in my bed because I love to sleep.
Describe your idea of the perfect date?
I think with the right person, even the most ordinary date can be perfect. However, I’m not going to lie, if a candlelit dinner on a beach were involved I probably wouldn’t complain!
And here’s Emily Maynard’s intro video clip from The Bachelor in which she talks about Ricky Hendrick’s death:
Check out our other Bachelor File posts on Chantal O’Brien, Ashley Hebert and Shawntel Newton! For photos as well as very brief bios and Q&As with the other contestants be sure to check out our “Brad Bunch” post HERE!