WIN Series Presents - Kimberly Wallace

Kim Wallace renewing her wedding vows
 after 25 years.
“It’s Been a Fun Life!”

I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with Kimberly Wallace, wife of Kenny Wallace, mother of daughters Brooke (24), Brandy (22), and Brittany Wallace (20). Kim is pictured above at the celebration of the couple's 25th wedding anniversary. Kenny and Kim renewed their vows and celebrated with their family and friends on June 23rd, 2009.

During our chat I learned that the couple had actually met in high school. Their meeting had nothing whatsoever to do with NASCAR. During that time Kim had attended races with a family member, never knowing she’d ever meet Kenny. Kenny didn’t really start racing until after the young high school sweethearts had married.

My Chat with Kimberly Wallace
Kim Wallace at the age of 1.
Lindi Bess (LB)- Where were you born and raised?
KW (Kim Wallace)- I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri (to parents Charlie and Dee, seen in above photo). I have two sisters and one brother. One is in Charlotte near me and the other two live in St. Louis still.

LB- Was racing in your family prior to Kenny or after Kenny?
KW- I went to some races with my aunt basically not knowing if I'd ever meet Kenny at a racetrack or not. Looking back, we actually met in school. We went as spectators but Kenny didn’t start racing until after we were married.

Kim in junior high.
LB-What type of sports and hobbies were you into?
KW- I played volleyball and softball in high school. We did the normal things. We were just normal kids.  We were in girl scouts. We were just normal kids.

LB- Did you attend college?
KW- No, actually I could have. I had the grades to do that. But I basically met Kenny and ended up moving south with him and did not do college. I’m a party planner. Had there been the opportunity to go to school for party planning back then, maybe I would have ended up going to some college for that.

LB-So you’re a party planner. I didn’t know that ...
KW- Yes I love it! I think it comes from having such a huge family. My mom is the oldest of 10 children. So there are tons and tons of family members when we get together. I think in the immediate family there are like 125 of us.

You just learn how to deal bigger groups of people and stuff. In fact, right out of high school I worked for a local cafeteria chain. It was a restaurant based in executive buildings so we were their restaurant so sometime we’d stay after hours for their executive parties. So I learned a lot through there.

LB - So was that your aspiration when you were younger or did you have something else you were thinking of getting involved in?
KW- No, that’s probably where I was because I enjoy planning parties. To this day I will get a bunch of girls together, and when I say bunch, I mean like 45-50 of us. We’d get together in my game room at my house and have like a ladies night bingo. Just events in general. Like helping with the fan club meetings, and planning stuff like that. I've also held some benefits for family members who were ill. It's a lot of gathering and thinking and planning. I’ve always just been good at being creative.

When my kids were little I sewed their clothes, and now I’m making Halloween costumes at the last minute.  Or my sister has a wedding next month, so I did all of her flowers for the wedding, and decorations in general. I have a creative mind, I guess.

LB- Did you have any mentors as you were growing up?
KW- You know, I know what you're asking, but I was the oldest in the family. I think my sisters looked up to me. You know what I’m saying?  My parents both worked and stuff like that. I loved my family. So I guess you could say my extended family, I looked up to.

Kim and Kenny when they were dating.

LB- How old were you and Kenny when you first met?
KW- I was 16.  We were in photography class together. At that point I found out who he really was. I didn’t ever hear of Rusty Wallace before, but he had mentioned that he’d just got back from a weekend trip from Milwaukee. Well, I have a large section of my family that lives in Milwaukee as well so that kind of peaked my interest. I used to spend summers up there with family. That kind of got us talking a little bit then one thing led to another and that’s where we all figured out that he was actually gone racing on the weekends. Sometimes he would miss Thursday or Friday to go. So we kind of started talking there. Nothing really happened during that class. When it broke at the semester, he went to jewelry making guitar pics and stuff like that. I went into journalism. Of course journalism is not as fun a photography is. So technically him not being the class clown, it made for a boring class. It made me realize that maybe I did like this guy. 

So we hooked up. He kind of thought I was teasing with him. So I’m the one who actually made the first phone call to see if he wanted to get together and have dinner or whatever. He said sure and we ended up being together ever since. 30 years.

LB - So what was your first date?
KW- Believe it or not, my parents went to a wrestling match. I was babysitting for my little brother and sister so he came over there. It was really kind of strange but Kenny was helping Rusty race, and Rusty was paying for his car insurance and gave him a car to drive. He (Rusty) wasn’t paying him a salary, so Kenny’s wallet was completely empty all the time. So there wasn’t any of your so-called dates.

I remember the first time he ever had a $20 bill in his wallet. Rusty gave it to him for something. We went to the Ponderosa. Then I couldn’t even eat in front of him. Back then girls were always nervous and would never eat in front of the guys when they went out. I don’t understand but we just never did. So he sat there and ate a meal and I just sat there and talked to him.

LB- You're such a busy busy woman. Mother of three girls, wife of a race car driver and you plan parties. How do you get it all done?
KW- I raised my girls to be very independent. They are good girls. Never got into any real trouble which having the lifestyle we did traveling all the time it would’ve been very easy for them to get into some kind of trouble, they but never did. One is a dental hygienist, one is a hair stylist, and the other is a sophomore in college for fashion merchandising and marketing. So they’ve all picked career paths they are happy about. I was the kind of mom that said if you don’t want to go to a four-year college you don't have to. That’s not what it's about. Find something you can fall back on in life because you don’t know what life is gonna deal you. So that’s what they did. It's kind of great. They were able to choose something that they are very happy with going to everyday. Kind of like Kenny. He wanted to be a race car driver and he’s happy. He picked something he really wanted to do and is happy doing it. That’s what he does for a job. That’s what the girls did by following in that path.

But I’ve always been there for them. They come to Mom and Dad for certain things. Like Kenny taught all of them how to drive. I couldn't, I am nervous in the car. That was his job. When they need money they come to me. Then I can tell dad that they need money. That was when they were growing up. They've never missed a birthday party. They've always had spectacular birthday parties and graduation parties.

We always had a deal with the girls growing up. When they turn 16 they got a car, when they turned 18 and graduated from high school they got to pick a trip within the United States and the Caribbean - They could take two friends and go. When they turned 21 we took them to Vegas for three or four days. That’s really all the time we had. We couldn't just take them for week long vacations with our racing schedule.

Raising them we’ve always had group, family meetings in the living room and it doesn’t mean because someone was in trouble. It could be because (it was) just an informative meeting. Kenny sees on TV that kids are using Mickey Mouse tattoos that are laced with LCD or something so we’d pull them into the living room. TV would be turned off, and no phone calls coming through. They were young at the time. We’d sit down and tell them you can’t do this or we don’t want you to do this because this can happen. We didn’t start out to have these family meetings, but somehow someway they’ve become very influential in raising our kids because they don’t forget any of that stuff. Not at all!

It was neat because we would often see things come back full circle (as a result of the meetings and what was talked about). For instance, when my kids were little we’d go tuck them in bed, and Kenny would go to the kitchen and get on our telephone. We had an intercom system. He would tell them a story over the intercom, as they laid in their beds listening. The stories were basically made up, but the stories always had a lesson learned. It may have been something that was going on in our own family amongst the girls. Like something that one of them came home and talked to us about one of their friends, so Kenny tried to put a positive spin on them. He’d tell the girls in a way that would help them to make their decision, no matter what way they were going.

(Side note: Kim said that one night during an ice storm about four years ago the power got knocked out and everyone was at their house. They had a fire going and everyone, including Kenny was running around. One of the girls asked Kenny to tell a story like he did when they would younger. Kenny told the story and as always ended it by singing "and that's the end of the story." The girls joined in the singing and at that moment Kim and Kenny realized how special these stories had been to the girls when they were growing up and what an impact Kenny had on their lives, even with his busy schedule.)  

Whenever Kenny was home for those two or three days, he would spend as much time with the girls as he could. I was never the mom that said just wait until your dad comes home. I would take care of the discipline right then and there, because there was no reason to bring it up once he got home.

Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Kenny Wallace
LB- How long were the two of you engaged before one or the other asked them to marry and who was it that asked?
KW- (laughing) We were engaged for about three years. He asked me. First of all for a whole week he was teasing me. He’d have his hands in his pocket, maybe pull out a penny or some lint and hand it to me all week long. So the night we went to the tractor pulls we were with another couple and they said let's go down by the St. Louis Arch. And we said OK. So we get out and we’re walking up to the arch and Kenny does it to me again. He says, “Hey I got something for you.” Well I just blow it off because I’m thinking OK, what's in your pocket now. 

It was at that time that he got down on his knee and proposed. My friends were nowhere to be found. They had walked away because they knew what Kenny was going to do. So he is the one who proposed under the arch.

A day in my life goes something like this …
Busy, chaotic, and always changing.

When I need time to relax and unwind, I like to …
Go get a pedicure and a manicure every single week.     
Food: Seafood, Fish
Music: '60-'70s
Movie: "The Green Mile"
Time of the Day: Morning
Holiday: Christmas


Renewal of Vows after 25 Years

When the couple renewed their vows after 25 years, they chose to hold the ceremony at the St. Louis Arch. Kim wore a new gown and they had a reception at the same hall they did after their first ceremony. Kim said that they wanted everything to be brand new because their original wedding was not perfect because of the long distance planning they had to endure. (Kenny was living in North Carolina at the time working as a crew chief while Kim was living in St. Louis). Of the second wedding and reception, Kim said, "It was the most fun ever! It didn't last long enough!" Coincidently it was Kenny who came up with the idea for a second ceremony after 25 years and he told the girls, "I'm gonna marry your mom again. I'm still in love with your mom and I want to marry her again."

At each wedding, Kim and Kenny danced to Karen Carpenter's "We've Only Just Begun." The couple concluded the second reception dancing on chairs with their family to The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling."

Below is a part of a special dedication that was presented to the high school sweethearts at the ceremony by their daughters. 

“...We are so blessed to have such wonderful parents! They truly are amazing! I guess the saying "opposites attract" is very true. We all know my Dad, he is crazy, loud, funny and loves to have a good time. And, we all know my Mom, she is calm, collective, mature and loves to throw the party. But the one thing they both have in common is they are sincerely good people who love each other unconditionally! 

"So with that being said, please raise your glasses to this amazing couple who have made it through 25 years of happiness, joys, sorrows, and losses and have remained committed to each other and IN LOVE through it all. Their love and marriage is an example to all of us what true love really is and that if you are dedicated, you can realize a marriage until death do you part."

"Mom and Dad, thank you for allowing all of us to celebrate this awesome occasion with you today as you celebrate 25 years of togetherness and TRUE LOVE. None of us would miss this for the world. Here is to meeting back in another 25 years to celebrate your golden anniversary ... 50 years!

When speaking to any member of the Wallace clan, it's evident how important Kenny's fans are to them. The family would like to thank everyone who has cheered Kenny on over the years and who stood by them through the highs and lows.

A special thank you to Kim, Kenny and their daughters Brooke, Brandy and Brittany for speaking with me and providing me with great insight into growing up in the Wallace household. It was a pleasure to work with you on this post and on our special Mother's Day tribute.

WIN Series Presents - Kimberly Wallace WIN Series Presents - Kimberly Wallace Reviewed by Lindi Bess on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 Rating: 5