CHARLOTTE, N.C., (July 25, 2000) -- Kim Wallace, wife of Kenny Wallace, driver of the Square D/ Cooper Lighting Chevrolet, says that if she wants to find Kenny in a crowded NASCAR Winston Cup Series garage, she just listens for his boisterous, ...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (July 25, 2000) -- Kim Wallace, wife of Kenny Wallace, driver of the Square D/ Cooper Lighting Chevrolet, says that if she wants to find Kenny in a crowded NASCAR Winston Cup Series garage, she just listens for his boisterous, energetic laugh. Wallace's cackle has been his trademark for more than a decade, and anyone who has ever met the 36-year-old St. Louis native knows what Kim is talking about.
"I don't think I've ever heard a laugh quite like his," said Gastonia (N.C.) Gazette writer, Monte Dutton. "It's like a cartoon. One would have to compare it to the likes of Woody Woodpecker. His laugh needs some sort of musical accompaniment to follow him around the garage."
"I don't think there are words in this language to describe his laugh," added Charlotte Observer writer, David Poole. "You can hear his laugh all around the track. It's almost like a bad cell phone ring, or a cartoon character's laugh. It's infectious."
That contagious laugh and mischievous personality have earned Wallace the nickname, "Herman," which comes from his childhood days. As a kid, Wallace could never sit still long enough to stay out of trouble. Kenny's mother would actually pay him money to be quiet. In those days, a St. Louis newspaper was running a comic strip called "Herman the German," a character similar to Dennis the Menace. Bob Miller, president of the Central Auto Racing Association of St. Louis, was the gentleman who dubbed Wallace, "Herman," after meeting the hyperactive youngster.
Wallace admits that the nickname has stuck with him because he still can't sit quietly to this day. If he is not working on his home, he is playing with his three daughters, Brooke (age 13), Brandi (age 11) and Brittany (age 9) or you can find him driving around his hometown of Concord, N.C. While Wallace is a Winston Cup driver, he hasn't let it go to his head. The Square D/Cooper Lighting driver has remained a humble husband and father of three who treats everyone as his equal.
"He's a breath of fresh air," said Chevrolet Manufacturer contact, Ray Cooper. "Being a Winston Cup driver, he could walk around like he's something special, but he's just a regular Joe. He's very serious about racing, but at the same time, he's a down to earth guy. Even when he's in a hurry, he has time to stop and talk to me or give me some quotes. He makes my job easy. One time he even gave me his personal cell-phone number so I could interview him on his day off.
"He's got the best attitude of any driver I've been around in a long time," proclaimed MRN announcer, Barney Hall. "He takes everything in stride, and if he has a bad day, he just shrugs it off and keeps going. He just says 'Well, that's racing, and we'll get them next week'. I like seeing that in a guy. From the same token, he's always ready to help other people out. If you need a favor, he's the first guy there. He's one of my favorite people in this sport."
Staying true to his character has also landed Wallace one of the most unique sponsorship roles in Winston Cup racing. The No. 55 race car sponsors, Square D and Cooper Lighting, use Wallace's outgoing personality to entertain prospective business clients, as well as, showcase their logos. The union is a perfect match, and Wallace is one of the few drivers scheduled to make hospitality appearances every Sunday morning before a Winston Cup race.
"Square D and Cooper Lighting are not your typical Winston Cup sponsors," said Wallace. "I'm not like Superman wearing a big logo on my chest. I'm more of a salesman for the two companies. I help entertain their clients, and they support our racing program at Andy Petree Racing. It's a relationship I hope to continue for a long time."
But don't misunderstand Wallace, after his 30-minute appearance in the hospitality suite, his focus is on racing. Two things you'll never hear at the same time during a Winston Cup event are the roars of the engines and Wallace's laugh. It's almost like he is NASCAR's version of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. As soon as the green flag drops, his grin turns into a growl.
"A lot of times he's goofy and crazy, but he's still a 'true Wallace,' and a 'true Wallace' is very competitive," said Square D/Cooper Lighting crew chief Jimmy Elledge. "People need to understand that he isn't cracking jokes when he's in a race car, he's very serious and intense. Nobody hates losing more than Kenny."
With that kind of attitude, it won't be long before we hear his laugh in victory lane.