NASCAR Then and Now: Kerry Earnhardt
His last name is one of the most recognized in NASCAR and he comes from a racing pedigree like no other. And while Kerry Earnhardt may have made the choice to step away from racing, his life is now full with family, friends and his newest business ventures.
“When you’re racing, you’re always at the track, with sponsors and in the media center,”told POPULAR SPEED. “So, you have very little time for family. Now that I’m not racing, me and my wife Rene’ have taken on several business ventures, including one with Shumacher Homes, America’s largest custom home builders.
“We’ve started with designing 24 new homes, all of which are based on what we like and what fits our lifestyle in the outdoors.”
The Earnhardt’s not only design the homes but also are collaborating on home furnishings as well through their partnership with the New Buck Corporation.
“Rene’ and I created the Earnhardt Collection brand based off our family’s love of the outdoors,” Earnhardt said. “And it means a lot to work with both Schumacher Homes and New Buck Corporation, which are family owned and operated companies.”
In addition to designing and furnishing homes, Earnhardt is also taking to the airways through a podcast on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Dirty Mo Radio network.
“Dale Jr. has a podcast, which Kelley, my sister, and him have been doing for a while,” Earnhardt said. “We’re going to start this year hosting a show that’s going to be all about hunting, fishing, kayaking, snowboarding, skiing and whatever else we can think of to do outdoors.”
“We’ll have a great co-host with Hank Parker Jr., a long-time friend of the family,” Earnhardt continued. “His dad raced with my dad quite a bit and he’s a great outdoorsman. Hank Jr and I also raced on the NASCAR circuit and share the same passion for the outdoors.
“So, I thought he would be a great partner for this type of podcast show.”
Earnhardt also has designs on a new television show, which he hopes will come to fruition by next year. It’s a project Earnhardt has been working on for six years that will feature hunting and some fishing.
From designing homes, furniture and developing radio and television programming, Earnhardt credits his entrepreneurial drive and spirit to his wife, as well as his late father, who was a true businessman on and off the track.
“My wife, we were dating at the time, and she learned from my dad too as far as business sense,” he said. “She’s pretty intelligent in business and I just have the desire, dreams and things I’d like to see. We work together well.”
While Earnhardt has his fingers in many business pots since leaving the seat of a racecar, he also is committed to taking time for his family. He is particularly involved with his twelve year old daughter and her competitive passion.
“My daughter competes in various rodeos,” Earnhardt said. “She’s an all-around cowgirl, which means she competes in roping calves, tying goats, barrel racing and pole bending. So, we do that every weekend right now.
“I like being at the rodeo. Not knowing much about the kind of horse power competition, I figured the best way to learn was be a part of it so I’m the Vice President of the Jr Southern Rodeo Association, which is the oldest Jr. rodeo organization east of the Mississippi.
“We have a great group of parents that volunteer that work the rodeos. I get the fun job of sorting the livestock like the bulls, steers, calves and get them in order for the riders to ride or rope.”
But with the last name of Earnhardt, there are still ties to the racing world that cannot be broken, even without being in the race car.
“When I walked away from racing, I walked away,” Earnhardt said. “I do sometimes get an itch to get back to the track and catch up with a lot of the old people that I worked around. Those guys are what I miss.”
Earnhardt will have the opportunity to be back at the track to catch up with his buddies and also support his son Jeffrey, who is in the seat of the Go FAS Racing’s No. 32 Ford for twenty races of the 2016 season.
“We have plans to be at several of Jeffrey’s races,” Earnhardt said. “I want to get as many as I can. We support him 100% and we’re there for him if he asks any questions or needs anybody to help him with what to do or not to do.”
While Earnhardt may not have an itch to get back racing at this time in his life, he has fond memories of his time on the track and is also committed to carrying on the legacy left by his father in the sport that his family has cherished for years.
“We’ve had several highlights from my racing career but the one that stands out most for me was my first win at Pocono in an ARCA car,” Earnhardt said. “I was driving for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Dad was there. It was a special thing to have that moment with him.
“I worried because everybody talked about how difficult that track was. We went up and tested, me and Dale Jr. He had his Cup car and I had the ARCA car and we spent two days testing there. He helped me a lot with pointers and shifting. It didn’t take long and we caught on pretty quick and we pretty much had it made the whole race.
“Those were good memories.”
“And as much as I can, I always try to carry on Dad’s legacy,” Earnhardt continued. “I always looked up to my dad in life and he helped me a lot of times to figure out how to handle situations and how to deal with things as they come up.
“I still think back on those times and I still think about him every day. We just talk about his memory at every opportunity.”
So what does Earnhardt want his fans, past and present, to know about his life at this point in time?
“I enjoyed my time in racing and all that,” Earnhardt said. “When dad passed away and things changed as much as they having in racing, I just didn’t have the passion for it. I just didn’t have the desire to do it anymore.
“We’re enjoying our family and being with the kids as much as we can and being involved in their lives but more important, we are just doing all the things that we love right now.”
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