'The Bachelorette' and the car dealer have ties that bind

Emily Maynard was engaged to NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick before he died in a 2004 plane crash.
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Editor's note: Update corrects name of race series.

Wine, roses, flirting and make-out sessions typically characterize ABC's reality show "The Bachelorette." But this season's show had an auto industry twist to it.

The single gal looking for love was Emily Maynard who just happens to be the mother of retailer and race car enthusiast Rick Hendrick's granddaughter.

Maynard, 26, concluded the series Sunday with a proposal from contestant Jef Holm, which she accepted. But before that happy ending, she and Hendrick lived through tragedy.

Hendrick owns Hendrick Motorsports team and Hendrick Automotive Group. The retail group ranks No. 6 on Automotive News top 125 U.S. dealership groups with 69,676 total new retail vehicle sales in 2011.

Maynard was engaged to Hendrick's son, NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick. He died in a 2004 plane crash on his way to the Sprint Cup race in Martinsville, Va., according to a Sporting News article. He was 24 at the time.

Maynard learned she was pregnant just a few days after his death. Her daughter, Ricki, is now 7.

In that article, Maynard said Rick Hendrick and his wife, Linda, have been supportive of her search for a husband on the show.

"The Hendricks are just like my own family," Maynard said. "I love them like my own mom and dad. They love me just like a daughter. I've been very close to them for a lot of years."

A spokeswoman for Hendrick Automotive Group declined to comment on "the personal life of Mr. Hendrick, Emily or the show."

But Maynard said in a media conference call the Hendricks will soon meet her betrothed.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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