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More to Life

Richard Childress and Kevin Harvick
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By Carol Einarsson | 11/26/2013
Category: More to Life
 


Photo: NASCAR.


Here we are, then, the first week of the off-season. It doesn't usually feel like it's really over until after the banquet, but this year, I'm feeling it right away. So many other things I enjoy in life that sometimes get put on the back burner between February and November are suddenly on the calendar. What? There's more to life than racing? Why yes there is! I'm glad you asked!

I'm developing a new column that will be called "More to Life". You may or may not find it listed on Jayski's page because it may or may not be race-related on any given week. If you come here looking only for technical race-only commentary (and I have no idea why you'd have any reasonable expectation of that), this column may not be for you. See, in case this has escaped you (and I know it has for a few), my interest in NASCAR has never really been of a technical nature. I don't write about valve springs or wedge or chassis adjustments too much of the time. Rather, what I like about NASCAR has always been from a human-interest story point of view. I like the players and the side stories. I like the humor and the rivalry and the families.

I like that the Waltrips (Darrell and Stevie) home schooled because so did I. I like that Joey Logano (despite how he's grown apart from some of it) was brought up in a home where he was taught to call his elders "Mr." or "Mrs.", and when he first arrived in NASCAR, he referred to Dick Berggren as "Mr. Berggren." I like that when a crewman is expecting a baby at home, aircraft from other teams is often made available to him.

So here we are and my first observation is one of being corrected. I was very harsh to Richard Childress in the most recent things I said about him. I felt his encouragement to his grandson to turn Harvick over on the race track was so far beneath the character we'd been led to believe he had, that I at once turned my own opinion to believe we had finally seen the true heart of the man.

I was wrong.

I wrote in anger the same way he'd spoken in anger. Kevin Harvick's subsequent apology for what he said about Childress' grandsons, I felt, had been mandated and was a PR move with all the sincerity of a brother telling his sister he was sorry only because his mother had him by the back of the collar and was threatening to ground him for two weeks if he didn't apologize.

I believed that the year couldn't end soon enough for these two men -- the owner looking to the next generation to rebuild his dynasty, and the driver looking to finally become someone other than RCR's replacement driver when Dale Earnhardt died. Don't get me wrong, Kevin Harvick most certainly has become his own man, but the ties to RCR -- the  knot in the rope that held them together was stamped with a #3 on it, and always would be.

And then it happened -- one little gesture that I hope will forever stay in my mind.

It was a press conference with Richard Childress and Kevin Harvick at Phoenix. You can find the video if you look on YouTube, but I needed to see it only the first time for it to be firmly fixed in my head as one of my best RCR memories of Richard and Kevin together. Kevin had already said with a smile and a nod to Richard, "We've had a lot of life lessons together." He went on to say, "You wanna make the race team better, but in the end, you wanna be a better person."  For his part, Richard spoke about how fleeting time is. "This is just another chapter in life that we're all living. It's a tough sport and we did a lot together."

But "the moment"... that gesture that showed me the error I'd made in being so harsh in my words about Richard Childress was when he spoke about how we're family. The context in which he used that term was smaller than the entire body of NASCAR, and referring rather to the race team. He spoke about how in a family there are arguments and disagreements; even fights. But in a family, you move past it. You might quarrel with your brother, but you love him, and you both move past it.

And at that moment, Kevin Harvick's hand went up and rested on the back of Richard Childress. It was a hand of brotherhood, love, understanding, and encouragement. It was forgiveness and respect. It was all of those things in one gesture.

That's when all the other good memories flooded back, from Harvick's first win in that car, to the comforting fatherly embrace of Richard Childress around Kevin Harvick as he won a race, but wept for the recent loss of his best friend and father-in-law. Richard protected him from spying cameras, and held him as a father holds his son. It was one of the most emotional post-race moments I've ever seen, and it was genuine.

THAT is the true character of Richard Childress. Racers and contracts and even wins and losses will come and go. Relationships last. Love lasts. And the respect two men have for one another will rest on those kinds of memories long after contracts have expired.

There's so very much more to life than racing, even within the world we refer to as the NASCAR family. Richard Childress and Kevin Harvick are just one example. Maybe even the best example.

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Comments:
SalT
11/26/2013 5:31 am (1)
I'm really happy that you are able to right an article that allows you to see someone in a different light Carol, but the fact is you don't give the same courtesy to everyone. I see a different side of Kurt Busch then you do. You found the good in Richard Childress and deservingly so I might add, Kurt has those same good qaulities if you would just try and take a look. Yes this man has done somethings that have made me cringe, but I follow and see the good in him also, not just the bad like most people. I refuse to be his judge
whigbee
11/26/2013 10:07 am (2)
Hi Carol, just a few thoughts... 1st of all, may your "More to Life" project be fruitful and bless many. 2nd of all, may your own family's Thanksgiving be a time of creating new and lasting memories. And 3rd & last of all, I'd like to share a gratitude quote with you: "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
-- Melody Beattie
Bill B
11/26/2013 5:34 pm (3)
First off, no matter how far off the NASCAR track your articles go I am sure I will continue checking them out because... there is more to life than NASCAR. Besides, NASCAR has become a double edged sword to me. Sometimes it brings me great enjoyment and other times it annoys the 'ell out of me.

Now with this article you've derailed my expectations. I was all set to defend RC given the negative comments you made toward him but since you've changed your tune all I can say is, I agree. IMO neither RC nor KH are without fault. I thought KH was way out of line with his comments towards the grandkids and I think RC is fooling himself if he thinks his grandsons are going to "restore RCR back to their glory days". They very well might but there are no guarantees as we have seen with other promising young drivers. Perhaps we just need to file this under: nothing lasts forever and change happens (for whatever reason).

Finally, Happy Thanksgiving to you Carol and all the RJO readers.

Oh yeah, regarding the banquet. For the first time most of us will not be able to watch it live. That's alright though, I've found the banquets to be less and less interesting as my tenure as a NASCAR fan has progressed. This is the first year that I can say I'm glad the season is over and I am in no hurry for Daytona (beyond the fact that it means spring is right around the corner).
vpat48
11/27/2013 4:20 pm (4)
Is the banquet on that god forsaken FS2?

FS2 is like the big foot. Every one has heard about it and very few have seen it.
Bill B
11/27/2013 6:17 pm (5)
vpat48,
Yes, the live broadcast is on FS2 (Dec 6). It will be rebroadcast on FS1 (Dec 8).
If you've ever seen the movie "Dodgeball", FS2 is the equivalent of "the Ocho".
So much for NASCAR's relevance.
Mims
11/30/2013 12:10 pm (6)
I agree with the comments that SalT made. And it is true of a few other drivers as well. Sometimes it is hard to do but we need to look at their good as well as bad behaviors. I will look forward too your new articles, Carol. I enjoy your writing most of the time.

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