Behind My Interview With NASCAR’s Kelley Earnhardt Miller
It might come as a shock to some people… but I was not a fan of NASCAR.
See the ACTUAL interview over on TravelingMom.com. Let me know how I did!?
I know. Don’t judge.
- First, I didn’t understand it as a sport?
- Second, I couldn’t see myself sitting on a track watching cars going in circles for a few hours.
- Third, there was no racetrack anywhere near my world in rural Oregon.
- Last, why would a WHOLE family TRAVEL to see a race?
When in Charlotte, do like the natives?
Recently I was asked if I could take a morning and interview Kelley Earnhardt Miller for TravelingMom.com. I was all… Earnhardt as in Dale, Jr.?! (I knew that much.) Yes, turns out Kelley is Dale’s brother (and Dale Senior’s daughter).
Oh heck yes! I would LOVE to interview one of THE most famous race car driving families of all time!
Then reality set in and I freaked out a little bit. My interview was one week away and…um… I knew nothing about racing, NASCAR or well… you get it. NOTHING. But there are people out there who love it, right?
Crowd Sourcing Anyone?
Of course, I turned to Facebook and asked my friends what THEY would ask Kelley if they had the chance… and oh, ho, ho… they didn’t disappoint. Folks who love the sport, others who like me know the name and that Dale Sr. died while racing in 2001 and a few more who had no clue but love the idea of meeting a celebrity! You can see all the comments on my Facebook Stream.
I began researching all that I could find about the Earnhardts and Kelley, what she does (she’s the General Manager of JR Motorsports), her family (she has 3 kids–2 girls and a boy) wait.. so do I? She is 41–I just turned 40! Hello this is a woman a lot like myself… okay I never raced in a stock car like she did in her twenties. But as a working mother with 3 kids and fun career working closely with her brother. I figured she’s more LIKE me than not… Okay so I’ve never even seen a NASCAR race. Nevermind.
The day came and I took the mandatory ‘selfie’ in my official TravelingMom shirt and asked my Instagram network to wish me luck!
Kelley’s offices are in Mooresville, about 45 minutes north of where I now live. So I had that car ride to get my thoughts together and try not to seem like an idiot! I called Kim Orlando (creator of TravelingMom.com) and asked for any last minute advice. She reminded me that video is absolutely a must, make sure I get Kelley on video answering travel related questions (oh yeah… we’re about travel for this… did I forget that?). Also my assignment was to ask Kelley about her ‘Vomit Story’. You know… the one EVERY mom has. Likely in the car, likely on an important day or probably after a long road trip?
When I got there, I was directed to ask for a different Kelly in the offices and she would take me to the real Kelley (with an EY). Except a few minutes later a woman who looked a lot like the images of Kelley Earnhardt came walking out to greet me. I was confused and acted like I knew what I was doing… I joked about thinking I was first meeting the ‘other’ Kelly. She laughed about two Kelly’s in her office and I was relieved I guessed the CORRECT Kelley!
Cool Office! But yikes, no direct sunlight?
From then on, the interview was surprisingly easy. I didn’t take a lot of notes but I scribbled a few one word jots as I asked the questions I had brought with me. I scanned the office and panicked at one point because the only windows in her large office face out into the working area of the Stock Car garage… lucky her… but I was hoping for a little indirect sunlight for the videos I was supposed to capture?
I gave her a minute to think about how she would respond to the couple questions I wanted to capture on video and then I asked her to move to a chair located by the window looking over the garage anyway, it seemed like the light there was still better than in her office alone?? I said a prayer and held up my HTC One phone and kind of hunched close to her across from a coffee table while she answered.
It went great! I didn’t retake either of the videos. I just let her talk and that was that. WHEW! You have no idea how much JUST the video alone scared the crap out of me!
I tried VERY hard to keep the interview to 45 minutes… but we were more like a whole hour. By the time it was over I got the impression I could totally hang with this fast paced mom (getit?). Sure she’s a high powered NASCAR GM directing her brother’s marketing portion of the business as well as the family foundation, but she stresses about her daughter that just turned 13. And she even has moments where she wonders what life would be like if she had become a teacher instead of joining the family business.
When I was leaving I really wanted to grab some silly photos down in the gift store, but first Kelley posed a photo with me. And she graciously let me know if I had any follow up questions I could simply email her directly. I was FLOORED. How genuinely nice is that?
Here’s what I learned about WHY people love the sport of NASCAR.
They can follow the sport all year and their heroes are so much more accessible than any foot/basket/base/ball player.
- Families travel to a race and spend several days enjoying the ‘festival’-like nature of the area. Kid friendly, mom friendly and all around FAMILY friendly.
- I now have more than one race track near enough to drive for a weekend… why not?!
- I could totally see myself sitting at a race track watching those cars go round and round.
Please read my full interview of Kelley Earnhardt Miller over on TravelingMom.com. I’m pleased to say, it was a lot of fun for me and I learned a lot about the Earnhardt family as well as the sport they have helped make accessible.
I might kinda, sorta like this sport. We’re going to the Dollar General race this weekend in fact. I’ll let you know what we think after that. Who knows? I might be a junkie. I certainly live in the right town for it! The NASCAR Hall of Fame is right here in Charlotte!
See the 3 articles in my NASCAR in Charlotte series: