Monday, January 7, 2013

Growing up with NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski

Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
We've heard all there is to know about Brad Keselowski, but what about someone who grew up with the 2012 Sprint Cup champion? I had the privilege to interview his older sister, Ginger. She was kind enough to share some stories and her experiences growing up with our champion.

Here's a little getting-to-know Ginger Hoffman: The oldest of the bunch, Hoffman is 18 years older than Brad, 28. They have the same mom but different dads. Hoffman didn't live much at the family's Michigan home when Brad was growing up, as she wanted to be independent.

"My job was always the babysitter in the family, so when our parents would have to leave town for the races, most of the time I filled in for mom, either staying at home with the boys or them staying with me. It was a good way to stay close to the boys and I appreciate that opportunity now more than I ever did back then."

Credit: Holly Machuga for Skirts and Scuffs.
For Hoffman, Michigan International Speedway is close to home and is a racetrack she knows her way around. She has attended other races in the past, like Talladega in 2011 and the Daytona Nationwide race in 2012, but racing just isn't like it used to be for Hoffman.

"Going to the races isn't nearly as much fun as it used to be when dad was racing local tracks, at least for me," Hoffman said. "These days I feel like I'm just in the way and find it much more comfortable to just watch from home. My neighbors may think I'm crazy come weekends in the summertime, but that's OK - at least somebody can hear me cheer them on."

Hoffman also owns and runs her own business, Diversified Documents.

"(It's) a home-based transcription and document production service providing general corporate and legal support since 1998," Hoffman said. "You may have seen the logo on Brian's ARCA car last year. We are looking at ways to expand our services in order to work with media, insurance companies and movie producers." 

What’s it like for a sibling to see her little brother win a NASCAR championship? What was it like growing up with family racing? Ginger answers those questions and more. 
Credit: Lisa Janie Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs.

Lacy Keyser (LK): As a child, did Brad always want to race?

Ginger Hoffman (GH): Definitely! Brad and Brian spent virtually all their time playing with something race-related, usually with Brian as the mechanic/crew chief and Brad as the driver or at the family race shop helping out and learning their skills through hands-on interactions. Dad seemed to innately know what they needed to learn to succeed in the racing world. There was never another option for Brad that I can recall even being remotely considered, although he did mention the lawyer track at one point, referencing his love for arguing. Growing up in the shop alongside dad and brother Brian pretty much sealed his fate.

LK: What was it like growing up with your dad and brothers racing?

GH: Being at the race track provided opportunities to meet new people who obviously enjoyed racecars, and then later on to do what I could to support a small but growing race team. I remember working with mom and dad setting up the office at the old shop on Auburn Road. The boys were still little, and the focus then was on building dad's career. By the time the boys were ready to drive, the team had grown to the point they had purchased the shop in Auburn Hills, had a bunch of crew members, and lots of race equipment. The boys spent most of their free time working on racecars and preparing for the next weekend. Racing has been their main focus all the boys' lives. If you weren't into racing, you pretty much weren't doing much with the family.

"Pretty sure it's at a house I rented at the time, more than likely one of the times the boys were staying with me while our parents were away at the races. You can see the Bob Keselowski hero card hanging on the fridge, and Brad's very stylish ARCA tee. I'm at the far right cooking something on the stove." (1994)

LK: Why did Brad take so much blame for when your parents lost their racing business?

GH: It's easy to feel like you could have done something different to change the course of your life and those around you. I can't speak for Brad, though, so I can't say why he would feel that way.

LK: To have grown up with Brad and to see him as a champion today, what kind of feelings and emotions does that give you?

GH: I've felt very happy at times and very sad at others.

LK: Your sister Dawn helps Brad with his racing, and your brother Brian races. Why is it that we don’t ever hear much about you?

GH:  I am not much for being under a spotlight and feel absolutely no need to be talked about. It's really hard reading some of the comments posted under articles regarding my brothers and our family so staying out of the media sounds like a lot better plan to me. The positive comments are wonderful; the nastier ones make me want to do dumb things like reply.

LK: Can you tell us any funny stories about growing up with Brad?

GH:  Brad loves to be warm. Living in Michigan means it's really cold sometimes. Mornings getting ready for school would often find Brad laying over the furnace vent curled up under a blanket when he was supposed to be getting breakfast and ready for the bus. Pretty sure he's still very much into being "warm" and it probably has something to do with his ability to maintain such composure inside those 100-plus degree racecars!  

I would like to say a special thank you to Ginger for taking the time and doing this interview with me.

2 comments :

The story about the heater is priceless. Great stuff, Lacy!

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