Sunday, February 20, 2011

WIN Series Presents: NASCAR's First Lady

DeLana Harvick

DeLana Harvick shares a mantra with her Twitter followers within her bio.

“It's not the number of breaths you take in life, but the moments in life that take your breath.”

DeLana (Linville) Harvick was born in Kernersville, N.C., to parents Joyce and John Paul Linville. Although early on it was her dream to be a engineer, she then worked toward a degree in teaching. But it was her passion for racing that won out. It was the years spent at the racetrack as an infant with her father that set the groundwork for the woman we see today.

John Paul Linville, DeLana’s father, made quite a name for himself in the late 1960s. He won his first stockcar race at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., at the tender age of 20.

Linville went on to win championships throughout North Carolina. He was voted MPD in 1970 after winning 12 out of the 15 races at the Raleigh Fairgrounds. For many years to follow, John Paul competed at such tracks as North Carolina Fairgrounds,
North Wilkesboro Speedway, Metrolina Speedway and Ace Speedway.

I can go on and on with his many credits, including his time spent racing in the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series. From 1982 to 1992, Linville made 136 series starts, collecting three top-10 finishes.

After a 20-year battle with cancer, Linville passed away November 1, 2005.

Growing up around racing, DeLana observed a lot from the sidelines. She entered the sport on the public relations side, representing two-time Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie and others. Her strong work ethic gained her respect throughout the garage.


DeLana married driver Kevin Harvick in February 2001, and that year the couple founded Kevin Harvick Inc., based in Kernersville, N.C. The race team has grown to become one of the most successful in the Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide Series.

Below you will find a short Q and A with DeLana Harvick, in which she discusses how she feels about her father's legacy, how she and Kevin met, and the female driver she sees with the most potential.

First, thank you DeLana for taking the time for this interview. I admire your strength and your commitment to NASCAR and to KHI. But most of all, I admire the walls you’ve helped to remove and the doors you have opened for women everywhere. It was a privilege getting to know you a little better.

LB-Where did you grow up? College experience? Course of study? Aspirations?
DH-“I was born and raised in Kernersville, N.C. I attended NC State University and finished my degree at UNC-Greensboro. I originally wanted to be an engineer, which is why I went to NC State, but I quickly realized that was not the right choice for me! I transferred to UNCG to be closer to home and pursue a degree in English. I thought I wanted to teach, but I realized how much I missed being at the track so I focused my efforts on PR.”


LB-Did you have any icons or mentors that really moved you?

DH-“No, I really didn’t have any specific mentors or icons growing up. I was very close to my dad, who was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer when I was 12 years old.”

LB-Who has been the biggest inspiration for you?

DH-“My dad was truly an inspiration and a very big motivator in my life. I watched him battle cancer for much of my life and although the doctors gave him a very grim initial diagnosis, he was determined not to let that keep him from living his life."

They gave him six months to live when I was 12, and despite the numerous chemo and radiation treatments and the surgeries, he lived a full 20 years longer than they expected. His bravery and determination to live is my inspiration.”


LB-Have you personally ran into any barriers being a female?
DH-“I have had my share of detractors but I never let their biases stop me.”

LB-Have you ever competed at any level within motorsports, NASCAR or otherwise?

DH-“I had a Late Model and a Legends car that I had hoped to race when I graduated from college, but between working and traveling and then meeting Kevin, it just wasn’t in the cards for me. Now these kids start racing when they are so young, and I was definitely over the hill!”


LB-How did you meet Kevin? Did you have a romantic proposal?
DH-“I met Kevin by pure coincidence. Todd Berrier (crew chief of RCR’s No. 31 Sprint Cup car), who was like my big brother growing up (our dads raced together and I’m an only child) asked me to go to the RCR Christmas party with him because he didn’t have anyone to take. (I was always Todd’s stand-in because he never found too much time or paid too much attention to girls because he was always so focused on racing) I agreed but only if he found a date for my friend who was visiting from out of town. Well you guessed it, her date was Kevin. We were running a tad bit late and as soon as we walked in the door, Kevin had a smart a** comment (shocking, right?) so I fired one right back at him. And, I guess as they say, the rest is history because we’ve never been a part since that day.”

LB-Where did you marry? What song did you dance to at your reception?

DH-“We got married in Las Vegas, and no it wasn’t a drive-thru Elvis kind of ceremony! Our first dance was ‘When You Say Nothing at All’ by Alison Krauss, because that’s a very fitting song for our relationship.”

L
B-When it gets hectic, what do you do to unwind?
DH- “I spend time with our furry babies. There is nothing better than cuddling or playing with them after a bad day. They don’t care about anything else in the world other than being with you.”

LB-Of the up and coming female drivers, who do you seeing having the most
potential?

DH-“I have been pretty impressed by Johanna Long. I noticed her last year when she ran some truck races and most recently she won the famous Snowball Derby. That in itself is a huge accomplishment.”

LB-Who do you think will be the first to race in Sprint Cup ?

DH-“That’s hard to say. There’s so much that goes into it… They’ve got to have some talent obviously, but it’s also about being at the right place at the right time.”

LB-If you had to pick one NASCAR "hero," past or present, to have lunch with, who would it be and why?

DH-“I never got the chance to meet Tim Richmond, so I’d like to be able to have lunch with him. He was immensely talented and I’d be curious to see how his career would have turned out and the impact he could have had on the sport had he lived.”

LB-Do you think NASCAR's decision to simplify the points system is a positive step for the sport as a whole?

DH-“Yes, I think any time you can simplify a process, with ultimately the same result, it’s a good thing. The points system was complicated for everyone to understand, even for someone who had been in the sport for years, so imagine how difficult it was to understand for the new fans that are tuning in.”
DeLane and Richard Childress had a great view for this race.
LB-How do you feel about the decision to require drivers to choose in which series they will earn points?
DH-“I honestly don’t think it will change anything. I think the drivers that want to compete in other series will continue to do so even though they can’t run for a championship. They can still win races, and I think that’s always been the ultimate motivation for the majority of the drivers.”

LB-I commend you on turning a negative situation into a positive when you reacted to the "firesuit" comment from Joey Logano. Was your reaction immediate or were you first angered?
DH- “I was confused. I had nothing to do with the pit road melee so I didn’t understand why my name was brought into the situation.”


LB-Do you have a count on how many of the "firesuit" shirts sold?
DH-“Thousands! They are still available at kevinharvick.com and the No. 29 trackside souvenir trailer.”

LB-What do you think of social media? Twitter or Facebook and their place in NASCAR?

DH-“I love social media. It gives Kevin and I the unique ability to instantly connect with his fans, or even with people that aren’t his fans. There’s no waiting for a press release or a media interview with social media. I like the fact that I can communicate with Kevin’s fans the morning of a race or on the pit box while the race is going on.”

LB-Do you have a "Happy (lol) place" that you visit?

DH-“I know people probably don’t believe that home is my ‘Happy’ place but it’s the truth. We spend so much time on the road that I cherish being at home.”

Championship rings being presented to Kevin and DeLane Harvick.

LB-Where do you see yourself and Kevin 10 years from now?
DH-“I’m not sure where I see us in 10 years. It doesn’t matter to me because I know I’ll be with my best friend no matter what the circumstances.”

LB-What are your pet peeves ?

DH-“My biggest pet peeve in general is not telling the truth. Nothing can be gained without being honest. I’ll always tell you the truth, what I think or what you may not want to hear!”

LB- Favorites:
DH-
Food: Italian
Music: Hip hop
Designer: Anything comfortable
Vacation spot: Home
Favorite Time of Day: Dusk

Follow DeLana on Twitter
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DeLanaHarvick

As always, any opinions expressed or implied are those of the writer and not of the other contributors on this site.

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