By: Ashley McCubbin
Photo Courtesy of Nigel Kinrade | Nigel Kinrade Photography
As one of the most successful individuals involved in motorsports, Kelley Earnhardt-Miller has helped JR Motorsports earn championships and victories in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
She is now sharing some of tips from her experience in new book, DRIVE: 9 Lessons to win in Business and Life, which releases to the public on April 7.
For Earnhardt Miller, the idea behind writing the book evolved after watching her brother Dale Earnhardt Jr. release his book, Racing to the Finish: My Story, a couple years ago.
“I kind of got the idea of wanting to write a book and share my story, which was more at that time an autobiography and growing up as Dale Earnhardt’s daughter,” she told POPULAR SPEED. “I was talking to his book publisher and we were talking about the story and they were like, ‘That’s all good, but we think you should focus on your business experience and kind of incorporating a bit from both worlds’.”
The suggestion from the publisher made sense, as Earnhardt Miller notes that she has been asked in several interviews about how she has been able to be successful thus far.
Though once she began putting everything together, she admits the 18 month process was not easy, as she sat down with Beth Clark for several conversations and Q&As to ensure everything was covered in the book.
“It’s not easy. I started second-guessing myself,” she admits. “Is this important enough? Are people going to want to read this? It’s pretty overwhelming, especially from the self-help, inspiring type of book, because I don’t really feel like a self-help, inspiring type of person. But everybody has something important to say and learn from.
“It was a tough process to put pen to paper and have that confidence in yourself in what you were doing was important and would be respected.”
The book begins with Earnhardt Miller sharing her story, growing up as Dale Earnhardt’s daughter and how she got to where she is now in her life.
“For me, it was kind of therapeutic,” she offered. “Talking about my relationship with my dad was something that was important to me, just to put out there because he’s such a good racecar driver and that’s what he’s known for, but just to share my story as growing up as his daughter and things that I wanted to share.”
Her childhood story also touches upon her relationship with her brother Dale Earnhardt Jr., and ultimately why they are close as siblings.
When asked about a funny sibling story, Earnhardt Miller admits that she never thought her brother would’ve ultimately become a racecar driver.
“An example was that is my dad bought me this old Volkswagen when I was 13 and I drove it around on the logging roads on our property,” she recalled. “It was a little stick shift and I got one day, Dale was riding with me, and I came around this curb and slammed into this tree on his side. So in the Volkswagen, there’s these running boards and the running boards folded up into the door, and obviously we were into a tree. So he’s trying to get out his side, and of course, the running boards are in his way. He finally gets out and he’s yelling at me that he’s never going to ride with me again, and that he’s going back to tell dad.
“We had go-kart wrecks and bicycle wrecks and different things that he would always get upset about, then he ends up being the one that goes 200 mph at Daytona and is okay with it.
The second half then breaks into the new lessons, including how important communication is.
“At the heart of everything that we do there’s communication,” she commented. “When I talk about communication, I talk about knowing your audience, and communicating with facts and not emotion, and different things like that. It’s overused and over said, but you can’t say enough about good, effective communication.”
As people read through those lessons, Earnhardt hopes that people can use them to help change the way they work, lead, and live for the better.
Following guidelines in the book, from managing emotions, to living a balanced life, letting go to move forward, Earnhardt has been successful across the board in motorsports, from working at Action Performance, to eventually being the Vice President of JR Motorsports. While racing is known for being male-dominated, Earnhardt Miller says that nobody has ever treated her differently in being a female.
“I know it’s a male dominated sport – I get that, but I just never really looked like what it’s like being here as a woman,” she commented. “I think that being an Earnhardt has completely been helpful from a credibility standpoint. My dad set the bar there as far as what our family stands for and what we’re like, so I think that was very helpful as a I started my career in this business, too, to have some immediate credibility.
“Nobody really picks on me for being a female in the sport or anything like that as they’re very welcoming. I just feel that my business acumen and the way I handle myself and do things has earned a lot of respect, and I’ve never had any problem with it.”
As noted, JR Motorsports has been successful in the NASCAR Xfinity Series through the years, and that has continued into 2020 with Noah Gragson winning the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
“We started the year great in Daytona. Those superspeedway races are always great for us in most cases; we’ve had a lot of success there,” she commented. “Moving into some of the other tracks, we’ve struggled and I think we want to do better. You’re always trying to find an edge and do things different to find speed and pick up speed.
“I think we’re very early into it to get a hand on where we sit. We have new competitors out there this year, and seeing how we stack up against those teams and what we can do. I feel very confident about the year – if we can ever get it back going would be great, and I look forward to it.”
Be sure to check out http://www.kelleyearnhardtdrive.com and order your own copy of her book DRIVE: 9 Lessons to win in Business and Life.