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Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday June 26, 2008
As many longtime readers know, and even short-time readers can (hopefully) easily figure out, I am responsible for Frontstretch.com’s weekly Top Ten list in addition to this commentary slot.
Our Top Ten list, as you should have correctly surmised by now, is, of course, patterned after the ones made famous by David Letterman. But the main difference between Dave’s list and mine — not counting that mine is always associated in some way with racing — is that Dave employs numerous professional writers, who make sure his final draft is usually pretty darned funny. However, Frontstretch.com has yet to allocate my requested funds from the annual budget to allow me the same luxury, which means I am left to look good on my own. And apparently, some might say I need to keep practicing at it!
Take yesterday’s Top Ten list as an example — Top Ten Reasons Sponsors and Drivers Are Leaving DEI. Now, as Top Ten lists go, I just threw this one together at the last minute just to meet — OK, almost meet — a deadline. I didn’t feel it was all that special — in my opinion, I have written much funnier stuff. I also didn’t think it was all that mean because, as my editors can attest, some of my lists have provoked many an editorial meeting before being published. No, yesterday’s list was just middle of the road… or so I thought. But judging from the number and tone of the comments that yesterday’s list provoked, it would appear that I pulled the equivalent of whacking a hornet’s nest with a stick whilst naked. In light of that, it is at this point that I would like to include my honest thoughts about DEI so some of their fans can see where I was coming from when I wrote the list.
First and foremost, I don’t have any malice towards DEI. I never have. As a matter of fact, I don’t give it all that much thought. For me, the things that are happening at DEI are no different and are of no more special interest than any other team. Like I said, the topic was just something that popped into my head along with a couple of good ideas to go with it, and I thought, sure, I can work with that! So I did; and that was the end of the creative thought process. Nothing more, nothing less…
But the problem, it seems, is that some people forget that the Top Ten list is pure humor. Right away, they assume that I am some evil warmonger that hates Teresa and DEI, and as such, I probably put newborn puppies in a gunny sack with a rock and throw them off a bridge. Well, that simply is not the case. Here’s the real and unexciting truth: I am simply lazy! Take this column, for example; what else is easier than writing a column about something I wrote about yesterday!
I am sorry to burst the bubble of all you who thought otherwise. In an effort to keep the debate alive, however, I will re-hash some things that I have written in the past, in response to some of the comments received yesterday — mainly about the whole of the DEI organization itself. I apologize in advance for the following being everyday common sense…
While I have no proof whatsoever, I am of the belief that Dale Sr. did, in fact, build that business for his kids. That is what people do, for the most part, when they start a business: it is there to be a viable source of income for the future generation should they choose it. How many businesses have the name “and Son(s)” at the end of them? It doesn’t say “and Wife!” It wasn’t “Sanford & Elizabeth!”
It is generally assumed, then, that the wife already has what the husband’s created. Yes, DEI was willed by Dale to his wife Teresa, but don’t you think that was because when the business was started, the kids were a bit young to run a business? Consider, too, that most people just assume that they will be around to run the business themselves. When was the last time any of you changed your will to suit the changes in your life? Does anyone honestly think that any of the things that have happened at DEI over the last few years would have actually happened if Dale had retired from racing instead of died from it? Teresa was good at marketing. Dale was the race team owner. Dale Jr. was the up and coming star that was to be the cornerstone for the business. Seems to me things obviously did not go they way they were planned…
For those of you who say that DEI is not dead or in trouble, you are only partly right. They are not dead, but they are in trouble. Consider this: other than part-time driver Mark Martin, does any team from DEI invoke fear amongst the competitors as a legitimate threat on any given Sunday? Not like they used to. And what does Teresa have to market now: Paul Menard and Martin Truex, Jr.? Both are capable drivers in their own right, but neither are hardly considered “superstars” in the sport.
Now, I’m not going to go into reasons why here in this column. I just wanted to point out some common sense observations as I see them; you can take them for what they’re worth.
Another observation that I see is the unabated enthusiasm exhibited by the DEI fans! That, I do approve of. It is nice to see unbridled passion for the sport — no matter who your team may be or what you’re fighting for.
I thank you all for showing so much enthusiasm over one of my writings.
Stay off the wall,
©2000 - 2008 Jeff Meyer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Well judging by what Jayski has to say it seems DEI will have 1 sponsor, 4 cars and 2 drivers
I’m still laughing at the “meltdown” responses from yesterday.Jeff, I’m glad you’re sorry only for “bursting the bubble” of those that are unable to read the writing on the wall.
I think your DEI thing was a bit much!
Why don’t you pick on say, a Roger Penske if you want to bring to light a team in trouble?
Or is DEI just easy pickins?
And, make no mistake, SR. knew what he was doing when he did NOT will DEI to the kids!
On one hand we say Sr. was a very smart businessman, on the other hand we (you) say he just slipped up because the kids were “young” at the time DEI got started. Seems to me that each and every year these kind of issues would be reviewed by Sr. & his advisors!
Leaving the kids of the will was not an oversight on his part!
Just remember Jr. had a drinking problem early on! Heck he may still have one, he just has lots of insulation to the outside world!
Why will DEI to a punk kid that shows no responsibility? Wasn’t it dear old Jr. that NEVER went to the race shop duirng the week to help on the cars?
Dad knew that!
I don’t think there were any real problems at DEI before the women starting going at it. Hmmm Dale Jr. and Kelly’s mother came into the picture more and all of the sudden there are problems, spoiled kids in my opionion.
Jeff…That was another great post yesterday. Your Top Ten lists are always funny and mostly on the mark.
Who knew Jeff, that a Top Ten list could set off such vitriolic commentary. I repeat…c-o-m-e-d-y…and h-u-m-o-r, period. I didn’t know DEI was a sacred cow, not subject to a little poking at. What puts them above Ganassi, Penske or even Petty when it comes to a little ribbing? Heck..poke at my driver (Dale Jr) if you like…if it’s funny I’ll laugh. If it’s nasty but maybe true, I’ll probably cringe before I laugh.
Keep on making me laugh Jeff.
I look foreward to your articles each week and I think they are a funny tongue-in-cheek look at the world of NASCAR. People who look at your Top 10 as if they are the 10 Commandments need to get a life.Seriously though, I figure in 3 years if things don’t change we’ll see JR and Tony Stewart buying DEI for a lot less than 55 million.
Perhpas even though it was humor..it hit close to home. Lets face it, there isnt much “good” going on at DEI. Lighten up folks……it could be worse. Junior could leave the company and the sponsor dollars dry up and the cars not be competitive…Oh wait……..LOL
Never complain, never explain.
Unless you’re REALLY stumped for a column idea.
I so misjudged you. It is obvious by your article today you hold both Mrs. Earnhardt and DEI in high esteem. Also, I am so very proud of you for pointing out that Mr. & Mrs. Earnhardt built DEI together and that before Dale married her, he was broke. You are an honest and fair man and I applaud you. clap,clap,clap.
When Theresa dies the whole kingdom will go to only one child: Hers and Dales.
Do we all believe that is what Dale would have wanted? Did he love only one kid? No one could ever say that for sure. I agree that the will was most likely made when the kids were all to young and or irresponsible to be put in it.
You know… the top 10 list was not scathing enough. Mrs. Earnhardt has mismanaged the organization so much, and handled personal relationships so poorly, that the ship is already at the bottom of the ocean. From keeping her girl-toy Steve Park in her home after Dale’s death (yeah, you never heard about that, did you?), to taking all of Junior’s former publicist’s residuals from the Dale Jr book about his rookie season (because, as she said, he was stealing from her by writing about her intellectual property), the lady has spent all of her good will already with the people who were once loyal to her.
Interesting comment from ‘Inside DEI’ – I had heard that but, like alot of things I’ve heard, just put it up to rumour. ‘Sharon’ on the other hand puts it in true perspective. I always enjoy Jeff’s humourous comments! Don’t stop Jeff!!!
Appluse for pointing out that Teresa is responsible for most of Dale Sr.‘s mega millions.All the Jr. nation fans & his sister refuse to accept that apparently Dale wanted her to run the business because he left it to her in the will, again apparantly.I’t ‘a all about control & money Kelly & Jr.apparantly don’t like Teresa are jealous that she got the company, & Kelly used Jr. to try and get what she wanted & it backfired on her, what arrogance, her & Jr. demanding control of DEI,apparantly not what Dale wanted,& how does Jr.& Kelly’s mother fit into the mix, unless I’m wrong she & Dale had been divorced for a long time,what right does she have to anything?
All this mess about Jr. fans hating Teresa over the treatment of poor little Jr.a mediocre driver at best has in part, plus the media portraying him as the only driver on the track.Log onto Jayski ir NASCAR.Com & all you see is Jr.this Jr. that,the media has made him the most popular driver, that & his last name.His on track performance sure doesn’t make it.Plus all the media reports about DEI troubles. in case no one hasn’t noticed Hendrick has troubles right now too,I guess NASCAR’s watching tham so close they cant cheat as much.I’ve got away from NASCAR, used to I wouldn’t miss a race, now I watch a little of it waiting for NHRA to come on,back to my straight line roots.Having said that Rest in Peace & God Bless Scott Kalitta, & condolences to & God Bless the entire Kalitta family.
Another thing about Jr. According to most documentaries on the Earnhardt family Jr. must have been trouble early on,what they all show is Teresa tried to talk Dale out of sending him to Military school, so taking all this in to consideration maybe Dale thought why put an irresponsible kid in control of all this? Unlike Jr. nation fans I don’t know this to be true, just speculation.
heh I thought your top 10 list was going to be
10) No Dale Jr.
You know, now you COULD take potshots at the other teams too. It’d be awesome! Hell they are all multi-million dollar athletes. Let em take a little humor :)
Wow! Some of the people that comment here are ruthless! (pretty stupid too).
From what I can tell this guy Douglas must have had a personal conversation with Dale Sr. shortly before he died, as he seems to be stating facts. Then this guy Butch Camp must have been around the family for most of their lives since he actually seems to know what all of them are thinking, planning, and maybe even going to have for dinner tonight.
I’m just a race fan. No, I don’t like the COT or Brian France, or the “lack” of clear rules.
With DEI it really all boils down to two things.
1. Drivers – Who’s going, and who’s coming.
2. Sponsors (MONEY) – Who’s going, and who’s coming.
Man, this whole column has brought a smile to my face; made my day actually. Jeff may have just been looking for something to write about but he wasn’t too far from the truth. The people out there that are happy with the direction of DEI and think Teresa is doing a fab job need to take off their rose colored glasses. The only person that could have ever brought that company back she let walk through the door and if you can’t see that then you need to stop living in a dream world. Yep; Teresa is all about planting trees and selling candles, racing is her “side job”. Junior made the right decision by leaving that place, no doubt.
Wow, some people get all jacked out of shape about honest humor. In reality, look in the mirror and ponder how many people think they might die tomorrow that are in good health, not many, I am sure SR didn’t think his last race would be at Daytona. This is how most people behave and don’t update their wills on a regular basis. I don’t work at DEI nor am I buds with JR but it did appear that SR loved all of his children and from interviews and reactions after races that JR won thought highly of his son and wanted to build a race team around him. I am not sure how to grade mediocre racers but if you look at Jr’s stats and compare the other regular 42 drivers to him in win percentage and other areas probably 90% would also be rated mediocre. I am not sure how anyone can call Hendrick Racing as having problems, 2 wins, 3 drivers in the top 10. Is Hendrick having the awesome year like last year, no, but not many teams have done that or repeated that type of domination. DEI has issues, say what you want, none of the are tearing up the track, none in the top 12, probably none that will even sneak into the top 12. They are a 2nd tier team with the guidance they have they probably will continue being a 2nd tier team. Yes they might be a step up from MWR but probably they are like GR and BDR and don’t seem to have what it takes to be a top tier team. Losing JR hurt their cash flow, Jr is doing fine where he is and is much better off, in the end can DEI say that.
I think the list is very good; actually very accurate, as well as humorous. People who are really upset about it need to get off the internet, watch the news and then they would see things that they should be upset about.
To Jeff,No I haven’t been around the Earnhardt family at all, actually only seen them on tv,but if you can read at all go back & notice that I had a few apparantly’s in what I said, maybe you should look in the mirror on the stupid statement, like I said if you can read at all.On the second post you might notice (if you can) that I said that most documentaries,that hardly translates to knowing them or being around them, do you understand that? The closest I’ve ever been to Dale Earnhardt was at the old Texas World Speedway at College Station Texas once when the ARCA car’s & then Winston Cup cars were there,I was hot lapping a friends ARCA car when Earnhardt passed me at over 200 mph & I was going about 175 to 180, he passed me like I was painted on the fence.So if that makes me a personal friend I guess I was, strange though if we were good friends why didn’t he know who I am?
Butch most people that are around JR say that he is a honest, well grounded person, on interviews he appears to be just that. To point back to a boy and say he was troubled and irresponsible because he was sent to military school has as much humor as yesterday’s top 10 list. Let see, hard to motivate, hard to get them to study, not doing as well in school as they should, well that overview fits quite a few boys JR’s age when he attended the military school, and many that age today but in the end he is ended up a decent human being.
Dale had not updated his will since 1992.
I missed the top 10 yesterday, but I’m glad you brought this up. After Jr. made his decision, there seemed to be many articles about Truex taking the lead and basically that DEI would NOT be negatively affected by Jr. leaving. DEI will be lucky if Truex stays. Jr. and his sister are building their own business. They have proven themselves and are better off away from the drama at DEI.
What happened to Max Siegel? Haven’t seen or heard of him at the track since Junior left DEI. Anyone have a clue? Wasn’t he to be a sort of “miracle worker” for DEI? Keep up with your columns , Jeff. Go Hawks!
Since reading this and all the comments I’ve started to wonder if DEI is even going to be as good as MWR in 2009.
Really, what “positive” is going on at DEI since Dale Jr left?
Mark Martin is gone. It looks like Truex will be able to choose where he will be next year. If he goes, what is left?
I would really like for you people to weigh in. I don’t mean as a DEI fan, or a DEI non-fan. Just logically say what the positives are for the company.
I’m beginning to think Teresa may actually run DEI “into the ground”.
As for Butch, I stand corrected. I have to say “apparently” is, apparently, one of his favorite words.
By the way, I wonder if he and Larry McReynolds had the same english grammer teacher???
Oh, and yes, I look in the mirror every day and see “stupid”. I guess that old saying is correct, “It takes one to know one”
Have a good one all!!
What happened to Max Siegel? He’s off working the “entertainment” division of DEI. You know, the marketing of the legacy of Dale Sr. Afterall, that is the most important part of DEI, isn’t it??? LOL Don’t know where he is really but it’s still amusing to me that a Sony Exec. was hired to start with.
Oh, yes Susan, I agree about the DEI priorities. I think there are plans for Martin Truex Jr. to do a few rap videos.
Also, the rumor mill has a “major” rap star (50 cents???) in a DEI ride next year.
Don’t worry all, Teresa has a handle on things. Remember, as so many here have pointed out, the woman knows how to make money!
Not to sure about running a race team, but what the hell. It’s all about MONEY….right?? LOL..
Jeff, If you look around some teams tried to run their teams as the same as in the 90’s, 80’s and so on. Yates Racing was nearly with the dinosaurs and will probably be many years before it returns to the top tier status it once had, if it ever does return. Kyle Petty did what was needed to at least stave off the downward spiral in that organization, Kyle and the King are out there being in the public’s eye trying to improve Petty racing team. If you look at DEI if you pull Mark and Martin out of the equation their driver pool is low on the talent pole, surely not what sponsors are wanting to sink millions into. Just as in MWR, sponsors not only want to be on the track but at times in victory lane, which with Mark and Martin leaving would be hard for DEI to do. DEI has the stigma cloud hanging low over them and some might be bitter grapes but some seems to be a honest overview of the situation at that company. With SR and JR now gone from the company there doesn’t seem to be much racing direction on the long term strategy for the company, other than SR’s legend.
Everyone should update their wills or, at the very least, review them once a year. Regardless if Sr. did or did not do that, the will stands as written. Jr has moved on and its patently obvious that he’s happy where he is and has matured and grown as a human being.Teresa has to answer only to herself and if it crumbles around her, she has only herself to blame. I do think, though, that DEI will rise from the ashes once it is sold. Thanks Jeff!
Jeff Well I wish I was as smart as Larry McReynolds, he took Davy Allison to many wins,& Dale Sr. to his only Daytona 500 win, I would say the guy knows what he’s doing,but you could probably do the same I’ll bet.The use of the word apparantly,I used that because I didn’t know if that’s what was meant as to what was going on with the family & DEI,again apparantly like you do. only my perception of it.You seem to be in the know of what’s going on with the Earnhardts & DEI.For R.J. I don’t know JR. & I’m sure I never will, from what I understand about him he’s a very astute business man & all around good guy, but he wasn’t always that way by some reports from people who are supposed to know, but I guess you know more.I particularly admire the way he handled his father’s death.I feel for him in that living in his dad’s shadow must be tough he seems to handle it very well though.
Douglas, where did you get your information that Junior had a drinking PROBLEM early on? Yeah, he liked to party hard as do many folks at a young age, but I have never heard of him having a problem.
Rumor has it that Tony Stewart is looking at Truex to drive for him. Hmmmm.
To Butchcamp, ex-spouses are entitled to alot of things when someone dies. They can actually contest the will. I have to leave $1.00 to my ex-husband in my will so he can’t say that I forgot about him. Speaking of which, all of you commenters need to get one or update it. You never know.
I remember watching an interview with Sr. at his farm and he stated that “he started DEI to leave to the kids.” Those words came right out of his own mouth. He knew that Teresa would be fine financially and once the kids were old enough they would take over the business. In this interview Sr. was wearing a red shirt and black pants and he was fishing. The same clothes he was wearing in the movie “Dale”. I wonder why that part of the interview was left out?
DJones I’ve been divorced 3 times, if it ever happens again I can represent myself, by now I should have an honorary divorce law degree.Being as DEI was built long after Jr’s mom & Dale were divorced I doubt she’s entitled to squat.Mike I saw that same interview, if he really felt that way seems he would have changed his will,after all he wasn’t in the safest business around.
Just so there is no confusion….When I, Jeff Meyer, the author of the article, make a post in this comment section, I always sign it “Jeff Meyer”
Too bad all the smart people on here were’nt avaliable to Dale Sr. with the legal advise on his will.I mean being as everyone seems to have known him so well & has all the legal knowledge.
R.J. Hendrick having problems? Take it up with Jimmie Johnson that was a quote from, he said yeah we’re having problems now but working to straighten them out.As far as Jr.being sent to military school, it came from a documentary, said Dale was having problems with Jr.decided the best way to deal with it was military school, Teresa tried to talk him out of it.Instead of calling me on it I suggest you take it up with the media.
Butch – Who do you think gave most of the info for the documentary? I saw a interview with Jr about the documentary and he made the comment that he wished that they had asked MORE of the family for input. Sounds like that was a made up documentary to me, or at least one persons story what they (she?) want us to believe.
It’s amazing to me that all the Jr. fans are ready to blame Teresa for all thing’s bad, I’m willing to bet that none of the whole bunch including the guy that calls hisself DEI insider & tries to say that she had Steve Park as a boy toy & unless he has proof that is actually so he should be ashamed of hisself, & could be treading on dangerous ground, by making such accusations that are untrue, if in fact they are, ‘cuz all the Jr.Nation Teresa haters will jump on that like a shark on a seal,true or not.But most have never even been any closer than a tv set or nosebleed seat at a race to anyone named Earnhardt.I don’t know if she did or not, but you know what, if she did it’s none of my business just as it’s none of “DEI insider’s”.All the rest of Jr. fans are true fans though, most act as if they grew up with the Earnhardt family,everything I have said on here about the Earnhardt’s was taken from news reports & the two movies.& documentaries, I have no idea if they are true or not,but they were reported as such.That being said I’m tired of argueing about someone that I don’t even know & never will.Also I’m argueing with a bunch of people that know only what they want to believe ,cuz they don’t know the inside of the family either.
DEI (the racing part of the business) is going down fast. If Dale Sr. wanted his kids or his wife to have the business really doesn’t matter. His wife owns it. She may be good at marketing, but she can’t run a business.
In the end Dale Jr. was only an employee. He went to another team because he and his sister (a carbon copy of her Dad) saw where DEI was going.
I don’t think Teresa should get all the “flack” everyone is giving her, BUT, she is the boss. It all ends up on her shoulders.
I know the family. I live close and know Brenda, Kelley, and have met Jr. several times.
They are all good people. Really just regular people.
Hey Butch… what do you want me to do to prove what I said? Post surveillance footage of Mrs. Earnhardt and Steve Park in their love nest? Or a transcript of her meeting/interrogation of Jade a few days before the Junior book was released where she told him he could have a set fee for writing the book (Junior wrote about 20 pages… sorry Junior fans)?
Well, I cannot do those things, but you can believe whatever you like and I will stick with what I know is the truth. Mrs. Earnhardt is lucky her earliest business ventures paid dividends, because her current actions would have caused any organization to implode. DEI will survive only because of their NASCAR IP ownerships and revenue sharing rights.
Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:
Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
Top Ten Reasons Fans Failed To Show Up At Bristol Sunday
BSNews! NASCAR CEO Given "Special" Award Amidst Lavish Fanfare
Fan Coun-ci-What? Just What Is It That NASCAR Wants To Study?
Want to know more about Jeff Meyer or view his complete article archives? Then hop on over to his archive and bio page.