Monday, May 24, 2010

I'm such a slacker!!

I'm really sorry for not keeping up with the blog the past few weeks. I am now back on track!

Anyway, here's the update from the Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey's Milk & Milkshakes. Dale really struggled in this race and finished 7 laps down in 30th. Many called this race the 1 year anniversary Lance becoming crew chief. That fact is false, Lance did not become Dale's crew chief until the fall race at Dover.

Sprint Pit Crew Challenge - The 88 pit crew was so strong, and made it to the semi-finals this year. With no penalties until the semi-final round, the boys lost to Denny Hamlin's pit crew, who went on and won the finals.

Sprint All-Star Race - Due to rain which came towards the end of qualifying for the non points race, all drivers already in the race started according to what number they picked. Dale Jr started 12th and had an ill-handling car all evening. He didn't have major damage but brushed against one of the cars during the first "All-Star big one". (that's what I call it) He finished 12th and will either have to win by the end of this year or before the All Star race next year.

Saturday nights woes for Junior did not take away from the moment he and the entire Earnhardt family must have felt early Sunday afternoon. Teresa, Kerry, Dale Jr, Kelley and Taylor accepted 'Big E's' induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame from none other than Richard Childress. Teresa spoke as a wife and business partner, then let each of the children speak on behalf of their father. One thing that stuck out to me was Taylor, who said that she felt like each other them as children knew and saw a different part of their father. Also in attendence were Grandma Martha, Kerry's wife, Dale's bothers and sisters, and two other family members who sat with Kelley and Dale Jr.

Next weekend is the one and only Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It also concludes FOX Sports coverage of the Sprint Cup Series for this year. As a fan, I want to thank Mike Joy, DW, and Larry Mac for their amazing coverage of their share of the Cup races for this year. Along with them, the reporters who cover pit road and victory lane, you all do an awesome job and aren't thanked enough for it, so thank you!! To steal a line from DW, "BOOGITY, BOOGITY, BOOGITY...... SEE YA NEXT YEAR BOYS!!!"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Taking a moment....

To remember a good kid and buddy of Dale Jr's.........

10 years ago yesterday, NASCAR lost a 4th generation driver, Adam Petty. I'm listening to Kyle talk to Mike Massaro on NASCAR Now as I write this and he said just hearing Adam's voice was making him tear up. I'm sure that this day is just as tough for the Petty family as Feb. 18th is for the Earnhardt family.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Showtime Southern 500

Dale was forced to go to his backup car (which was the car that he ran at Atlanta) after wrecking his primary car during practice. Thankfully because his wreck was before qualifying, he did not lose his qualifying position and started 19th. After flirting with the top 10, making an unexpected pit stop due to a tire going flat, and working his way back from 2 laps down, Dale finished the day in 18th and moved up one spot to 12th in the standings. Next week the boys head to Dover, which will be the first track where Dale and Lance had worked together last year in the 88. Let's hope that's a good sign for both driver and crew chief!!

On another note, I have not heard Dale joke around near as much as he did Saturday night. It was nice to hear!! (Personally, I think it was because Brenda was there watching Dale race.)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fledgling mom gleans tips from NASCAR mothers

I posted this for all you Mom's out there. As you know, Mother's Day is on Sunday and this article fits right in.....
As a rookie mom -- yellow stripe evident by the enormity of my gear and products I so foolishly buy such as the pee-pee teepee -- I'm always eager to absorb the knowledge and wisdom offered by veteran matriarchs.

My son Grissom is 7 months old and so far he has yet to roll off the changing table, hit his head on the bathtub faucet or get his fingers smashed in any number of fastening apparatuses he is restrained by on a daily basis.

So far so good, and on Sunday I will be honored for my accomplishments. I haven't forgotten him at Target, left him in a running car or allowed the dog to babysit him while I went shopping, all of which are stories reported on the local news these days.

By comparison, I deserve 'Mother of the Year,' but honestly my job thus far has been only to blanket my little boy with love and affection, cater to most every whim and teach him how to sleep and eat. The hard part, I feel, is in front of me.

This is why when I chose to write my annual NASCAR Mother's Day feature I started the process fully aware of a slightly selfish motive. I'll interview mothers of highly talented and successful men -- NASCAR drivers -- and glean valuable parenting insight far superior to anything I could find in a stack of baby books or Parents magazine. At the same time, I'll write a feature for the boss and meet my weekly deadline. Brilliant, free parenting advice from experts with proven results!

In between my questions about the upcoming festivities at Darlington Raceway and how the mothers enjoy the ceremonial walk across the drivers' stage and free flowers, I'll sneak in questions like, 'So how do I raise a well-adjusted, confident, unselfish young man that one day won't move halfway across the country to escape my prying eyes, er, loving arms?"

It was a tough question but I received great advice.

If I can follow Jana Bowyer's blueprint for her son Clint, maybe Grissom will never miss a Christmas at home. If I can harness a bit of Brenda Jackson, Grissom will still be a big hugger well into his 30s like Dale Earnhardt Jr. And if I can somehow tap into the bond Mary Lou Hamlin forged with her son Denny, when Grissom grows up perhaps he will buy me a house 15 minutes from his.

On the other hand, Denny never calls his mother and has forced the poor woman to join Twitter as a legitimate, and at times only, form of communication. And sometimes Bowyer uses "old lady" as a term of endearment for the wonderful woman who carried him nine months and has cared for him 31 years. To top it off, one year, Dale Jr. flat out forgot to call his mom on the sacred maternal holiday!

OK, so maybe NASCAR drivers aren't perfect sons ... but they're pretty darn close.

Like the time at the gas station when Denny, in a gullible yet good-hearted manner, got suckered out of his mom's gas money traveling to a Late Model race.

"He's going to kill me for telling you this but it's just to give you an example," Mary Lou said.

On their way to a late model race about 10 years ago in North Carolina, Denny and Mary Lou stopped for gas.

"He went in and came back out and said 'Mom, I need more money.' I said, 'For what,'" explained Mary Lou. "There was a guy in there who said he had a small baby in the car and he asked Denny for gas money and said the kid hadn't eaten, so he filled up the car and he bought the man whatever food he wanted."

That's Denny, generous without suspicion, always giving to others. Still, Mary Lou is trying to teach the 29-year-old how to answer the phone when she calls.

"Actually a lot of times I have to get on Twitter to find out where he is," she said. "I have to leave him a message and remind him 'you better call me back, I'm the one who brought you into this world so answer my call.'"

Denny and his girlfriend Jordan helped Mary Lou with her Twitter account but now of course he tells her she Tweets too much!

I'm hoping this social networking wave will somehow be replaced with letter writing in 20 years; otherwise I'll have to hold out for human microchipping technology. Just a little shot in the butt, Grissom, and I will know where you are at all times!

Seemingly, when your adult son is surrounded by business managers looking out for his best interests and is as wealthy as a NASCAR driver tends to be, moms don't need to worry about their son's whereabouts. Right?

"Wrong, that never goes away. I know he has everything he needs but I still worry about him every day," Mary Lou added. "You always want to be there for them."

And so does Jana Bowyer which is why her and husband Chris have their own motorhome and travel to all of Clint's races.

"Daddy and I aren't there to be at his motor home 24 hours a day. Sometimes we don't even see him. But we understand racing can be the best day of your life and other times it can be the worst," Jana said. "Regardless of what happens, he knows we're just across the lot, he can come talk to either one of us. When he's upset that's when he'll pop over or when he wants to go eat, he'll pop over. He knows we're there."

The same goes for Jana. Her son Clint has been there for her as well.

In 2005 when her son won his first NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Nashville, Tenn., Clint surprised his mother with a token of gratitude -- in her garage -- back home in Emporia, Kan., the following weekend.

It was the least he could do for his mother after years prior she sold her BMW 3 Series to buy a motor and parts for his modified race car. In return, Clint surprised Jana with a BMW 5 Series.

"You don't always hear it from him but he told me he knew how much we sacrificed for him and he wanted me to have that car," Jana said.

Bowyer takes care of the BMW's lease and mom gets a new version every three years!

Sacrifice, yes, I get that part of parenting already. Sacrifice now and hopefully one day Grissom will be grateful and not move to Malawi.

But what Brenda told me is important. Don't get caught up in the geography. She's had to be away from both Dale Jr. and his sister Kelley in the past.

"You do the best you can from the beginning and all you want for them to be is happy regardless of what they decide to do," she said. "You'll be happy if he's happy, no matter where that may be."

It's good advice coming from a mother who has raised one of the most successful sports figures and personalities in the world.

When I asked her how, she said she couldn't take much credit for the product.

"A lot of it is just Dale's personality, he's softhearted, kind and easygoing," she said.

As a boy he was quiet, fine to play alone and content to stay home most days. He was most comfortable on Mom's lap or right beside her and aside from a caterpillar incident at the church and a tendency towards laziness, he was a perfect child.

In those days, Brenda's job was easy.

Today, however, she has her plate full of parenting duties because what I learned from her is that you don't clock out on their 18th birthday. Actually, for Brenda, this is when her job became more involved, parenting her adult child.

"I most certainly do more parenting now and it's most important now because I am trying to keep Dale grounded, explain to him how people perceive him when they don't necessarily understand everything going on and help him look at all life's avenues when he doesn't have time to do so," she said.

Also, 30 years ago Brenda didn't need to explain to Dale Jr. the responsibilities of being a role model or remind him of the ramifications that come with the job. He was just a child. The most trouble he could get into at that time involved a jar of caterpillars.

His grandmother, Martha Earnhardt, had two large trees out front that always had these furry little creatures that Dale Jr. couldn't keep his hands away from. One day with some help he put a bunch in a jar.

"I guess he was maybe three or four at the time," Brenda recalled. "He went to daycare at church while I worked. The next day at daycare he took the jar with him and snuck it in his little bag. And when he got to daycare he and another little boy went and turned all those caterpillars loose in the bathroom."

The fuzzy worms went everywhere and still today Dale Jr. is a jokester. He gets his sarcastic sense of humor from Brenda.

Her little prankster with the shaggy, bowl haircut is all grown up but he'll never be too big for hugs, Brenda said.

"I work at JR Motorsports and once or twice a week he'll come by my office, come straight in and tell me to 'stand up and give me a good hug.' He never forgets to hug me when he leaves a room," she said. "If he did, he knows that would really hurt me. So whenever he leaves he comes and hugs on my neck. That means a lot to me."

I've always been told how lucky I am to have a son because the bond is unique and special. No one can tell me exactly why but I trust and don't question what the moms say because others have said the same thing for years.

Only now, after speaking with these three women, I have a greater understanding of how the relationship evolves.

What I learned from Brenda, Jana and Mary Lou is that for a mother a son is never a fully-grown man, and a son is never a fully-grown man until he understands and accepts this about his mother.

So now I'm going to print this story out, put it in Grissom's baby book along with three simple instructions.

You better answer when I call, never miss a holiday and always remember to hug me before you leave.

If he can manage these three simple tasks and I hold up my end of the deal, we're sure to enjoy many happy Mother's Day celebrations together.

Happy Mother's Day, ladies!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Check it out!

I decided to change the header up a little bit. Like it? It was time for a change, and also I almost forgot to say this, but......

Monday, May 3, 2010

Crown Royal presents the Heath Calhoun 400

Dale's day started ok good, but quickly went from bad to worse. After a bad pit stop and bad changes to the car, he had a tire go flat and that just made it worse from there. With Richmond being a short track, it's very easy for half of the field to get lapped in no time at all. Dale started 25th and finished 3 laps down in 32nd. At the end of the race, Dale praised his team for staying positive and said that had it not been for the tire going down, they would have run better. Not only is next week Darlington, but it's also Mother's Day. Don't forget about your mom!!