08/18/04 — Kerry Earnhardt loves working in the family business

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Kerry Earnhardt loves working in the family business

By David Williams
Published in Sports on August 18, 2004 1:57 PM

So, what did you do with your Monday?

Probably got up, got dressed, took the kids to school and headed off for a day's work.

Welcome to the life of up-and-coming stock car star Kerry Earnhardt.

"I woke up, took my 12-year old and her friend to school," Earnhardt said.

This is where daily life for all of us and life for the oldest son of NASCAR's famed Dale Earnhardt part ways.

Well, sort of -- this is his day at work.

"I went to DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.), had a few meetings, put a seat in a car that we're doing a brake test for next week, then to the airport to come here."

Earnhardt was in Goldsboro Tuesday, signing autographs, meeting fans and helping to raise money for the county's high school chapters of the Future Farmers of America. He spent much of the late afternoon at Chevrolet Cadillac of Goldsboro, meeting and greeting fans that had been waiting in line for up to two hours just to see him and get an autograph or picture.

Usually Earnhardt spends his time between DEI and Richard Childress Racing on the east coast and Bill McAnally Racing on the west coast, driving in the Grand National West Series this summer and fall. It's all part of the upcoming debut of Earnhardt on the Nextel Cup circuit, scheduled for 2005.

Earnhardt is running a limited number of Cup races with Childress this season -- to ensure he starts next season as a rookie -- and he felt he needed more seat time.

"Richard is good friends with Bill McAnally," Earnhardt said. "So Richard gave him a call and put it all together to go out there and race the little short tracks ... keep my skills and everything together."

Earnhardt said the Grand National circuit is teaching him valuable lessons for next season.

"It involves a lot of patience," he said, "and that plays a key role in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series."

This weekend, however, a California short track is not on the schedule.

"This weekend we get to go Michigan International Speedway with the No. 33 Bass Pro Shops car and run the Michigan race this weekend and have a good time," said Earnhardt with the slow smile that reminds any race fan of his famous father.

Spending more than a minute with Kerry Earnhardt has to make anyone think of The Intimidator. The son has the same features, the same brushy mustache, the same twinkle in his mischievous eyes, and the same friendly way with the fans.

While some sons might not want to live as a reminder of their fathers, Kerry does not ever tire of hearing how much he looks like Dad.

"No, I don't, he said. "And I really shouldn't. That's a big compliment to me. To resemble Dad, and the achievements he had in life."

Earnhardt, now age 34, can't say he jumped into racing as a boy. He has done other things -- he just didn't like them as well as he did racing.

"I've tried everything else -- no, I don't," he said when asked if he ever wanted to do anything else. "I've been in textiles, worked at the dealership as a mechanic and in customer service. Nothing was making me happy until I started racing."

And the best thing about being a stock car driver?

"Racing is the best part," Earnhardt said. "But outside of that it's meeting all these fans out here and hearing the stories they have to tell. It's amazing the people I run into that's met Dad and Dale Jr. and hear the stories they tell about when they met them."