Thursday, January 18, 2007

There has to be a news story when Teresa Earnhardt talks

LOS ANGELES – By the time you read this, I will have spoken with Teresa Earnhardt.
For the first time since Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001, she agreed to sit down and let me, on behalf of race fans and readers of The Charlotte Observer and, ask her questions Thursday afternoon. Actually, it was sort of her idea.
There’s a documentary coming out real soon that’s simply titled, "Dale," and it’s the first such project about the late seven-time champion’s life that his family, including Teresa, has been completely behind.
Part of the deal in coming out here for the media day for that movie and getting a chance to talk to Teresa was that I’m not supposed to write specifically about it until an agreed time in the near future. And I will stick to that.
I got an invitation late last week offering to arrange a telephone interview during the day of media sessions she was doing. It took me about 30 seconds to say, "No, I believe I’ll come on out." I want to make sure she has a chance to say whatever it is she wants to say and that I hear it and understand it and don’t have to worry about another call beeping in or any of that nonsense.
Whatever she says, there will be a story about it in Friday’s Observer. In agreeing to hold back on stuff related to what the movie shows and how it’s structured and things like that, I told the representatives who set this up that there had to be a news story written about the fact she’s talking at all.
I’ve gone on the record in my columns that I think Teresa needs to talk to the racing media about her job as CEO of Dale Earnhardt Inc. She, of course, has every right to disagree and not talk to anyone. But I still think that’s part of the job she needs to do.
I’ve been instructed that I can only ask questions pertaining to the movie.
That’s fine, because part of her job at DEI is to sustain the legacy she and her husband built together, and that role of carrying on the legacy is part of the heavy burden she carries in her life after Dale’s death. Sharing the memories that will be in the film is a way to do that, and so questions that relate to the movie also will relate to how Teresa is doing as a person and as a CEO six years after having her life change even more dramatically than the sport her husband loved changed after his passing.
All I’ve ever wanted to do is let Teresa tell her side of the story, whether it’s about how the team is running or about how she’s doing as a car owner and as the leader of a business that is very important to the success of NASCAR.
When I send this blog in, I am going to shut down my laptop and pack it into a briefcase to take over to the hotel where the interview is scheduled to take place. Thanks to the time difference, I’ll be pushing deadline to get a story in the newspaper in time to make deadline tonight.
Look for it on, and sometime early tomorrow I will follow up on this blog with more about what went on and how things went.
Talk to you then.


Anonymous said...

People forget, her husband did die, and she certainly didn't ask to ascend the DEI thrown. That said, maybe they should have pushed harder a few years back to get Mike Helton, remember that story!

Anonymous said...

Teresa E is simply the Jackie O' of the 21st Century.

Anonymous said...

I think Jr& DEI will work things out. Everybody needs to stop this RCR thing. As much as I want to see a black #3 out on the race track, I can’t imagine seeing somebody else in a red #8. Think about it… If I was Jr, I would not want to stay in my Dad’s shadow all the time. Believe me, Jr is a great racecar driver with an unbelievable image and popularity in a red #8. Teresa needs to wake up and realize that DEI. Is Dale Earnhardt Jr!! Without him, DEI. Will not survive.