Kelley Earnhardt: “I could have been something big on the race track.”
It’s long been rumored and speculated that in the early stages of the Earnhardt children’s racing career, Kelley was the one who had the most potential.
However, she climbed out of the racing seat and went into a different role within the racing industry. She eventually landed as the co-owner and VP of JR Motorsports in 2001.
Her brother, Dale Earnhardt Jr went on to run 631 NASCAR Cup Series wins and collect 26 race wins. Kelley Earnhardt went into the paperwork side of the sport.
In 2007, she was handed the top 25 Women in Business Achievement Award by Charlotte Business Journal.
Kelley Earnhardt Miller on her racing career
“I was the first kid out of the four of us to go to college,” Kelley Earnhardt Miller stated on her new show ‘Beyond Racing’ via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“That was very important to my dad, for me to go to college.”
“I went to college in Wilmington and stayed there three years and finished up my schooling at UNC Charlotte. During that two year period as I finished up school, my dad really begged me to come back home.”
“My dad said, ‘If you move back home, I’ll buy you a race car. You can race. You can get your own apartment.’ “
“I had this checklist of all these things that I wanted to happen if I was going to move back home. He stayed true to his word and I started street stock racing.”
“Granted, I had to drive a car that my brothers, both of them, had already flipped upside down and put scratches on every single piece of sheet metal that there was possible to put a scratch on.”
“Then, my dad started to put together a program with one of his sponsors, Western Steer Mom ‘n’ Pops. That gave us the late model program that my brother Dale, Kerry and I all raced. We had a three year program.”
Kelley Earnhardt Miller made the decision to step away from the seat
“Meanwhile, I graduated college is 1995,” she continued.
“I was working part time from 93-95 in Charlotte. My dad bought Sports Image, which was the company that made t-shirts and hats. I worked there.”
“I would leave there on Friday’s at 2pm. Drive to the races and race on Friday or Saturday night. I just really started doing well at my job and getting promotions.”
At this point, the sponsorship with Western Steer-Mom ‘n’ Pop’s was soon to go away.
Note: In 2017, the company came back to JR Motorsports to sponsor events in the late model division. The flat black #28 was entered with CARS Tour driver Josh Berry behind the wheel.
“Dale Jr was kind of left alone in 1997. He was kinda running on his own. It just kind of disintegrated from that standpoint of our racing careers. And I was working, I was content and happy with that.”
Kelley Earnhardt reflects
“Looking back on that situation, I’m really grateful. There’s so many times that I miss the adrenaline of racing. I think about what could have been.”
“I honestly thing that I could have been something good and big on the race track.”
“But, knowing now that we lost my dad and not knowing then that’s what was going to happen… I was primed and in the perfect position to be able to take over Dale’s career and be who I am today. I’m completely satisfied with that.”
Today, she essentially operates JR Motorsports. She’s currently in the middle of putting out a new tell-all book which she called a ‘miserable’ experience.
Earnhardt Miller is married to L.W. Miller. She is the mother to three kids – Karsyn, Kennedy and Wyatt. This year, Karsyn made the decision to go full-time racing in the USAC National Midget Series.