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The Kerry Earnhardt Story
Just in case you weren't aware, here is a little background on Kerry Earnhardt. He most certainly wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth!
From The Orlando Sentinel
By: Ed Hinton
Kerry Earnhardt has the name, not the skills
Published July 17, 2003
There is now a final, slam-dunk answer to all criticism that motor racing's main feeder system for drivers is nepotism -- that to get a top-flight ride and become a star, all you have to be is "son of . . ." fill in the blank.
Kerry Earnhardt is prima facie proof otherwise.
He was the firstborn of the man who arguably has had more influence -- first in life and now in death -- on NASCAR than any other driver. His kid brother is on top of the world, so high up there that he sometimes suffers vertigo.
But this week, Kerry Earnhardt joined the ranks of a lot of Americans who formed the core of his father's following in the first place.
He is unemployed.
Winless in NASCAR for two seasons in its Class AAA league, the Busch Series, the eldest Earnhardt heir was fired by his mediocre team on Tuesday. Co-owners Armando Fitz and Terry Bradshaw (yeah, that one) spoke some nice platitudes and replaced him with -- how's this for a marquee name with family connections? -- a guy named Tim Fedewa.
If name and resemblance alone bought rides, Kerry would have $35 million a year in sponsorship, a 10-year contract with a $10 million base salary and 50 percent of team winnings, a Learjet or two and a mansion on Lake Norman, N.C., which is sort of the Beverly Hills for NASCAR drivers.
He looks almost exactly like his father did at this age, 33. His mannerisms are identical, from the furtive glance in the eyes to the twitchy turns of the head.
His father at this age was still very much in touch with the hard times of which Kerry was begotten.
We were riding along some country highway in North Carolina, sometime in the 1980s, when Dale Earnhardt first told me about the son almost nobody knew about.
We all knew the blond-haired kid, Dale Jr., who was maybe 12 at the time, and his sister, Kelley, about 15. We thought their mother, Brenda, was Earnhardt's first wife. Turned out she was his second. (The widow who now runs Dale Earnhardt Inc., Teresa, was the third.)
The year Kerry Earnhardt was born, 1969, his father was a nowhere-bound (so it seemed) dirt-tracker, racing hand-to-mouth on 90-day loans at $500 a pop, for tire bills. The first wife couldn't take it.
After the divorce, "I couldn't even afford to make the child-support payments," Dale Earnhardt said, driving along that road that day. "So I let her new husband adopt him."
So Kerry grew up as far removed from the explosion of the Dale Earnhardt Inc. business empire as a first male heir can be. What's more, his formative years were spent without the real reason why the sons and nephews of drivers become drivers -- the environment for development of eye-hand coordination.
Twin brothers Mario and Aldo Andretti raised their sons, Michael and John respectively, on motorized toys. Go-karts, jet skis, dirt bikes, you name it -- rather than batting balls and shooting hoops, Andretti central nervous and muscular systems were fine-tuned from toddlerhood to accelerate, shift, clutch, brake . . .
With only minor variations, the same was true of Allisons, Pettys, Unsers, et al., and is currently true of Labontes, Mearses, Jarretts, Martins . . . and even more Andrettis. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray and the other from-cradle-up drivers had their reflexes thusly honed, though by families that weren't so famous.
Kerry Earnhardt grew up a working-class North Carolina kid. Period. And you know how expensive motorized toys are.
He already had a family by the time his father, at last in a position of wealth, fame and power, reached out to find the son he hardly knew -- but the son who in so many ways was so nearly identical to the father.
If Dale Earnhardt's core public, the downtrodden, the beleaguered, the very masses of what Henry David Thoreau meant when he said, "The majority of men live lives of quiet desperation . . . ."
If those masses only knew, then there would have been 100,000 or so jackets and T-shirts proclaiming "Great Clips Racing -- Kerry Earnhardt" in the grandstands at every Saturday's Busch race, and Fitz and Bradshaw would have had no trouble pleasing their sponsors, and they'd have been in Winston Cup full-time by now.
If they only knew how like the father the elder son is . . . "I'm one of them," Dale Earnhardt used to say of the working, desperate majority of men and women and children. "I'm not better than them."
If they only knew, the grandstands would have rocked and thundered with ovations for Kerry Earnhardt.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a genuinely good-hearted human being, chronically humbled at how far he's come because of who he is and how he grew up, and often uncomfortable at all that swirls around him . . . perhaps part of that discomfort is seeing how his older half-brother has had to struggle.
If Dale Jr. had control of DEI, Kerry might well be his teammate now. But big business -- which NASCAR racing certainly is -- doesn't work that way.
Kerry won four races at the truly blue-collar level of stock-car racing, the ARCA series. One win came in a finish-line duel and wreck with Blaise Alexander, the last stock-car driver to die of the epidemic injury that killed Dale Earnhardt, basilar skull fracture.
So even the meager wins have come hard and tragic for Kerry.
His eye-hand coordination and his fine motor skills got no head start. And so he is not a particularly good driver.
He did not grow up within the platinum realm his father built. He is, to this day, one of them, not better than the people who adore the Earnhardts.
Like them, he's out of work, worse off than his daddy was at the same age, with no benefits.
Not even from his name.
Swinging in the hammock
Interesting article, a bit critical of him in a way though. Makes it sound like he doesn't have a chance in hell of ever succeeding in racing cause his hand eye coordination wasn't developed in electronic toys... weirdest excuse I ever heard
edited to include: I think the growning up part for getting coordination is a crock. It's skill thats learned behind the wheel that gets you going. The team you are on is a great factor. I don't think Bradshaw's team will ever be a main contender in the series. Look at Judy Donlevy in WC, he has been in it for years and hasn't won a thing hardly. There are other teams in the same boat. I also do agree with Mary below, he has an estate so he can't be hurting while unemployed like us peons would be. And just cause he can't drive doesn't mean he won't find a position in the racing family somewhere.
Last edited by Ilikai; 07-19-2003 at 01:39 PM.
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What a piece of drivel and it makes no sense. First off Kerry Earnhardt never would have been in a race car period if he weren't Dale Earnhardt's son.
He had all the same chances that Dale Jr. to hone his skills....if you think Jr was out in the back yard tooling around in motorized vehicles....think again. Dale Jr. was sweeping floors and any other of a number of odd jobs they could come up with to keep him occupied. When they were old enough, Dale put both his boys to work in the car dealership. They weren't out honing their skills like the youngsters of today.
You have to have some talent to start with and just because you are the son of...doesn't mean you got the gene. Dale Jr. did, Kerry didn't. Dale Jarrett did...Glenn Jarrett didn't. Justin Labonte and Jason Jarrett didn't either and hopefully they will figure that out soon.
Kerry didn't have the same background growing up...but then Junior didn't have the whole world handed to him at an early age either. Dale made them earn everything. Kerry was never able to "keep his head screwed on straight" (Dale's words not mine) long enough to succeed. What he got ...he got from having the Earnhardt name so this whole article is based on a false premise.
Do I feel sorry because he is unemployed as a race car driver...no....because he is the son of Dale Earnhardt I am sure that some part of the estate was his. If not I am sure he will land a job somewhere in the vast Earnhardt empire. He and his family aren't going to go hungry anytime soon unlike the thousands perhaps millions of unemployed blue collar families that this article claims he is one of. He isn't.
This whole article is a crock and insulting.
As i said in another thread, It always seemed like a black cloud was over Kerry's car all the time. after all that driving, you either get great of platau out. I think Kerry platau'ed out and will never get to the cup league. Sad in a way, but you know he isn't hurting for money I'm sure.
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