Race Weekend Central

Kenny Wallace Driver Diary: A New Team (Again) & Take Me Out to the Ballgame

I’m almost speechless. This year has been, I think, the most unpredictable year of my racing career. I started the year not knowing if I was going to be in the Daytona 500, then I was in the Daytona 500 and I missed the Nationwide race at Daytona. Then we started running good in the Shark car at Fitz Motorsports. Then that car ran out of money.

You know, at times I don’t know if I’m being picked on or if I’m lucky. I feel as if I’m lucky now, because I could be like a lot of my good friends. I could be on the sidelines watching the race. So I’m really grateful to Jay Robinson Racing. Jay had called me even before Daytona. He was still working on the U.S. Border Patrol sponsorship. I just really feel like I’m lucky. I’m young, I’m a good racecar driver, and it would be a total downer if I was not racing right now. But I also cannot believe all this happened six races into the year. It’s just unbelievable.

I spent the off-week in St. Louis. I have big plans, and big plans cannot be put together real quick. My plans are about a seven-year plan. Kim and I bought 14 acres in St Louis, very close to where we met and grew up. We were real lucky to find some land because it’s all sold around there. It is going to be our estate, meaning that we’re going to have a home on it, we’re going to have a really big race shop which is going to field my dirt cars.

I don’t agree with when NASCAR drivers retire, for example Ricky Rudd, my brother Rusty. When I quit NASCAR, that doesn’t mean I’m never going to get in a racecar again. I’m going to continue to race; I can’t imagine being 50 years old and not getting in a racecar any more.

We really enjoy getting in the motorhome, getting in the dirt car hauler and driving throughout the United States and racing dirt. I’m really looking forward to doing that. So we’re going to do that out of St. Louis. We’re right now, as we speak, working on building my dirt shop. Then in two years, we’re going to build a really big, 100×60 foot building. That building is going to be more about Kim and her family. I told Kim a long time ago that once I started slowing down it was going to be more about her.

A big part of the building will be for her family, because a lot of them have really small homes, so the whole family was not able to celebrate Thanksgiving or things like that together because they had to find a place to do that, so we’re going to build a chalet, somewhat like a ski resort, where the whole family can get together. We’ll also have a place for the motorhome, my cars and things like that.

Then in 2014, we’re looking at moving from North Carolina back to St. Louis, and at that point we will start building our home. If I’m still in TV, which I plan on, I’ve looked at a lot of people, like Darrell Waltrip, who lives in Tennessee, and a lot of other people – you don’t have to live in a certain area. In NASCAR, we’re a traveling road show, in a different state every week. So we might as well make this move to St. Louis – it will be more centrally located and it’s home.

I like North Carolina. I think it’s beautiful, but to be honest, I’ve never really had time to enjoy the mountains or the ocean because all we do is race. I think it’s going to be hard to get our middle daughter, Brandy, or her sister Brittany to come back, because they were born and raised in Charlotte and they’re true North Carolina girls, so I don’t know if they will come back or not. I think Brooke, our oldest, will probably go back because her boyfriend goes to Mizzou.

My brothers Mike and Rusty and our mom and dad are going to stay in North Carolina, so it will be easy for me to come back to Charlotte and stay because everybody has plenty of room.

The Cardinals’ home opener is always a lot of fun. Monday we were there, and it was just fantastic. They had a great big eagle that flew from center field, and that eagle flew around three times in a great big circle and then landed right on the pitcher’s mound. They announced that they were going to retire that eagle; it was its last flight. The wingspan on it had to be five feet, it was like a small airplane. It was unbelievable.

Then, of course, it’s the home of Anheuser-Busch, so the Clydesdales came out with the wagon and they had some really legendary baseball players: Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Red Cheney, and of course Stan the Man Musial.

Of course, it was all to good to be true. We were leading 5-1 in the bottom of the third and along came a huge storm, with lightning, and it wouldn’t stop, so they had to cancel the game. I didn’t like that rule, but the next night we came back. We lost 2-1, but it’s a long season, 162 games. It was a great baseball game and we had a good time.

I would have to say, my favorite player in my era, I just can’t remember anybody quite as good as Ozzie Smith, our shortstop. For quite a while, when he would come out, he would do a backflip on his way out to shortstop, and the ownership made him stop because they didn’t want him to get hurt. He was arguably one of the top-five shortstops to this day. Ozzie is a St. Louisan, he has his own restaurant there.

There are a lot of great players that exemplified St. Louis, whether it was Lou Brock, Bob Gibson or Stan Musial, but the player that I watched and enjoyed the most from my era was Ozzie Smith. He was just crazy good. He didn’t have very many home runs, but he was like the show. He was a show on wheels. He could snap that ball up.

I don’t like it when there’s no baseball. When Kim and I are in the motor home at night, we have FOX Sports Midwest on our TV and we watch the games at night at the racetrack. When baseball season is over it gets real boring at nighttime. I love the saying “the boys of summer.” The boys of summer means June, July, August and 100 degrees and you’re at the ballpark, drinking beer and eating peanuts. Some people play golf, some people go to the bowling alley; we go to the ballpark. That’s the boys of summer. It’s just so much fun.

About the author

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Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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