Race Weekend Central

Kenny Wallace Driver Diary: Searching for Sponsors & Home at Last

I feel like we went to Daytona on a wing and a prayer. A week before the race we didn’t even have a sponsor. But we got lucky and got a little bit of money from Blue Ox hitches and towing equipment. We went down there with no money. We practiced four laps for the whole event so we wouldn’t use tires. We just survived and finished 16th. My car was really good at the end.

We did have a few problems. The radio did not work. That came from no practice; because we didn’t practice more than four laps, we didn’t realize it didn’t work. It was like the old days. Every time the caution would come out, I’d come down pit road and me and the crew, we’d yell back and forth with each other. We tried different helmets. So anyway, we finished 16th. I feel like we dodged a bullet there – we got real lucky. It was the wettest race I’ve ever run. It was wet the whole damn time we were there – we got record rains.

California was another deal like Daytona. It became very real to me that we have no money. We were going racing on literally what the race paid. I announced on Twitter and Facebook that we had no sponsorship and to the rescue came a company named Zimmzang. This company sells promotional products to small businesses, like golf balls, pens, koozies, flashlights and magnets. We were able to go out to California, and once again we were able to practice I believe four laps. It’s crazy – just crazy. We finished 29th. It was really a non-drama weekend.

I must say, it is very strange to show up at the racetrack and not practice. It’s totally different and I don’t look forward to doing it very much. It’s definitely not fun with no chance to compete. We’re just trying to make it through these tough times. There was a lady named Betsy. She called me three or four days before, the race, and this lady really stood out to me. She was definitely an inspiration to me. She gave the team a little bit of money. Her father Chuck was a big fan of mine and we were able to put a logo on the car – “In memory of Chuck Cross.”

We left California Sunday night. My brother Mike rode with us in the rental car as we drove over to Vegas. We got over there and I made some commercials for a website that’s not quite ready to go yet. The highlight was that NASCAR and the Nationwide Series asked me to represent all of the Nationwide drivers at a Friday night dinner for Nationwide. The 50 top agents in the United States and the board of directors were there. Mike Helton and I sat with the board of directors. It made me feel pretty good about myself and my whole career in NASCAR – they like me.

Then we ran the race. We practiced a bit more. We had a great sponsor in Federated Auto Parts. We practiced eight or 10 laps. We put minimal laps on the motor, but the motor blew up. It was a brutal weekend.

My daughter Brandy is going to be 21 on April 5. She wants to move in with one of her friends. That is going to take some getting used to. She’s going to move about six miles from home, so now it’s just me and Kim and Brittany. The house is getting pretty big – lots of empty bedrooms now! I’m proud of Brandy – she’s a hair stylist. She saved up the money she needed to start, and she’s sharing an apartment with a friend.

I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks off. There’s no Nationwide race, and I just have to do TV on Sunday in Atlanta. I’ve got some dirt races to run March 12 and 13 at Humboldt, Kans. I left on Jan. 30 and went to Volusia to race, then we went to Daytona, then California and then Vegas. I’ve only been home for two days, so I’m really excited to spend some time at home now.

About the author

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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