NASCAR Wives: Appendages, Assets, Or Liabilities?

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IFebruary 2, 2009

It seems like there have been lots of engagements and weddings happening on the NASCAR scene recently. 

Scott Speed is the newest driver to announce his engagement to the lovely Amanda Mathis.

Other drivers have gotten married over this long, slow offseason, especially since there is no official testing.  Elliott Sadler tied the knot with Amanda Prince and Carl Edwards married his love Kate Downey.

So, what makes a good NASCAR wife? Will they simply be an appendage of their driver husbands, showing up at the track in their designer clothes to strut their stuff?

Unfortunately, I would put Chandra Johnson in the appendage category. Sure, she is there for all the perfect shots with Jimmie, standing at just the right angles in her modeling poses.

But I've seen her at the track. She does sit on the pit box for the race, but she rarely interacts with the team or crew. In fact, it seems to me that she downright ignores them.

Initially, I would have classified Jeff Gordon's wife, Ingrid, as an appendage as well.  But in spite of her own model poses, Ingrid’s focus on and off the track has now been on her new role, that of devoted mom to Ella Sofia. 

Vandebosch has also embraced the role of ardent supporter and cheerleader extraordinaire of Gordon. With these two attributes, she definitely moves into the asset category.

There has been much written about other NASCAR wives who are assets to their husbands' careers. DeLana Harvick is definitely an asset, and some would say she wears the real pants, or fire suit, in that marriage.

Kim Burton is a huge asset as a NASCAR wife, madly rejoicing or despairing with the crew on Jeff's pit box each and every race. 

Patty Petty is the ultimate asset, standing by her husband Kyle through thick and thin, even through the death of their son.

I would also add Connie Montoya to the mix of assets to their husbands. She and her kids are regulars at the race track and on pit road. 

Montoya seems to be the level-headed one, and perhaps, the only one that can truly talk sense into her sometimes hot-headed husband. In fact, she gets to practice her calming skills quite often, especially with JPM’s propensity for getting into tangles on the track.

Dr. Kate Downey, Carl Edwards' new wife, also seems to fall into the asset category.  After all, with his back-flipping, ricocheting off the wall driving, Carl is bound to need a doctor, especially one who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

I would also classify Amanda Prince, Elliott Sadler's new bride, as a definite asset, perhaps maybe even a saint. Could you imagine planning and going through with your wedding while your beau went through an off and on-again relationship with his team? 

Amanda didn't even get to fully enjoy her honeymoon, since Elliott could not leave the country since he was on terrorist watch after losing his passport. 

She is also a fourth grade teacher so you know she has the patience of job, a skill that will likely come in handy while handling this one of the Sadler brothers.

And then there are the liability NASCAR wives.  Probably the best example of this has been Brooke Gordon, taking Jeff to the cleaners for property, money and "bling".  

She also proved to be such a distraction off the track that Gordon could barely function on the track.

Sadly, Buffy Waltrip may have also fallen into that category. While certainly done in a much quieter way and out of the public eye, there were many sad and poignant moments for Mikey this past season, as he has tried to balance his team demands with being there for daughter, Macy.

So, will Scott  Speed's newly engaged be an appendage, asset or liability? Only time will tell, as it does for all of us in our own relationships.

Of course, the ultimate test will come when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. takes a bride. We can only hope he chooses someone totally opposite of his step-mother, a definite liability in most everyone’s definition of that term.

In whatever the capacity, from appendage to asset to liability, there is no doubt that NASCAR wives will most certainly continue to play a pivotal role in the lives off and on the track of their most famous driver husbands.