Kenny Wallace Serious about May 28 CARQUEST 300
"Charlotte Motor Speedway is in my backyard and has been since I moved here from St. Louis in 1984," said Wallace, driver of the No. 22 Stacker 2 Ford out of the ppc Racing stable. "Every time I race at Charlotte, I think about drivers like David Pearson who sat on so many poles when he was driving for the Wood Brothers. I remember hearing about one of the first races when the track was coming apart and the winner finished the race with a potato stuck in his radiator to plug a hole up. This place is just legendary for so many reasons."
Wallace admits he's spent many nights dreaming about what it would be like to win at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"That would mean the world to me," he said. "When people ask me where I want to win, I tell them I'll take a win anywhere. But deep down in my heart, I want to win at Charlotte. Charlotte Motor Speedway is the granddaddy in my eyes. The only problem I have when the races at Charlotte roll around is finding a place for all my family members from St. Louis who come to town because they love the track so much."
In a sport where the stress level remains at a constant high, Wallace is recognized as NASCAR's class clown.
"I have the opportunity to be mad, upset and depressed at myself because of the competitive nature that comes along with being a race car driver," Wallace explained. "In racing, you lose a lot more than you win. Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and even my brother Rusty lose a lot more than they win-some more than others. That's what competition is all about.
"A lot of people don't realize how much of a burning desire I have inside me. I think that in order to compete, you've got to keep a strong mind. If you're depressed, you can't have that positive mental attitude. I think it's important to stay positive if you want to compete at this level."
Heading into the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300, Wallace sits comfortably in the top 10 of the NASCAR Busch Series standings and is enjoying his most competitive season since finishing second to Bobby Labonte in the 1991 standings.
"One thing that strikes me as being odd is when people come up and ask me how I stay so happy all the time. I just tell them that they should try it because it takes a lot of work," Wallace said. "Staying happy and upbeat is a challenge. I don't like being depressed. It's very bad for you health-wise. That's kind of the way I look at life because I only get one chance, so I better have some fun."
Does Wallace feel any of his critics see his attitude as being too care free and that he doesn't take his job seriously?
"Most definitely," he said. "But of all my critics, I have to say that more of them understand me than don't understand me, and I'm happy with that. People that don't understand me just don't know me. It's the people I surround myself with who really know and understand me. You really have to consider the sources."
Wallace lives five miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway in the tight-knit community of Concord, N.C., where he and wife Kim are raising three daughters. Don't be surprised to see Wallace roaming the stores at the nearby Concord Mills mall or cheering his daughters to a softball or basketball victory at Northwest Cabarrus High School.
"We've always tried to be very supportive of our community as well as the schools our daughters attend," Wallace said. "We try to help out in any way we can. Our oldest daughter and middle daughter fulfill their lives being athletes by playing basketball and softball. My wife and I joke that we've turned into a cab service for them. What's great about our community is everybody knows me and they don't treat me like a superstar. I absolutely can not stand being treated like a superstar. I want people to know I'm just an average guy like anybody else."
One fact many people don't know about Wallace is that he is a very successful businessman. His company, Aerowing LLC, owns and manages several rental properties in Concord.
"If people were to see the business side of me, it would ruin my image because I take it seriously," Wallace said with his familiar laugh. "I've always thought I should look to the future once my racing career ends. My wife and I have always been pretty diversified, so we decided to get into domestic real estate.
"It started out where we built nine homes and now I'm up to 12 that are really close to Charlotte Motor Speedway. So far everything is going great and we don't have a problem keeping those homes rented."
Wallace, who admits to being hyperactive, is also spending a lot more time in the television broadcast booth where he works as a color commentator.
"My work in television is keeping me busier and busier all the time," said Wallace. "I've just signed a two-year extension with the SPEED Channel. Every Sunday morning we do a show called 'NASCAR This Morning.' Then right after the race we come back on and do another show called 'NASCAR Victory Lane.' Another show that a lot of people will recognize me through is the reality show 'NASCAR Drivers: 360.' I also fill in on 'Inside NEXTEL Cup' on Monday nights sometimes when my buddies Ken Schrader, Michael Waltrip and Johnny Benson have something come up and they can't make it."
Tickets for all May events at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 on Saturday night, May 28, can be obtained online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-455-FANS.