Celebrity status is no easy hike. The road to the top is traversed by few. NASCAR standouts, high-profile actors and comedians, rock and country stars achieve their lofty positions through focused efforts and extraordinary circumstances.
The question here is whether successful stars have common methods. Probing star power begins with asking stars what they have and what others have that catapult them to ubiquitous name recognition.
Many stock car drivers, local actors and countless musicians never rise above their limited territory. Quite simply, the ranks of the unemployed include musicians and actors. And many stock car drivers, musicians and actors must seek other jobs to fuel their lives.
This reporter recently asked more than 30 NASCAR drivers and celebrities, many of whom are nationally renowned, a question about star power.
The access was made possible to select individuals, arranged by the Homestead-Miami Speedway, the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour, hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C. and Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks.
A three-part series will feature the thoughts from inside NASCAR minds and celebrities to fully cover their sincerity and great insight. As the focus proceeds, a mix of top stars and lesser-known drivers will present the best quotes from those who answered a single question about star power.
The question: You’ve got star power or you know a lot of stars. What do you believe champions, celebrities, top actors and comedians, rock and country stars have that sets them apart and helps them to rise to the top?
Dale Earnhardt Jr. surprised many reporters with his quick take on his immense popularity. It’s noted that Earnhardt probably picked up a few more legions of fans with his dramatic win of the Daytona 500, after he answered this question in Charlotte.
“I never thought about myself in high school about being a future star,” Earnhardt said. “I don’t know what the hell really happened to be honest with you. It just happened.”
Larry the Cable Guy (Lawrence "Larry" Whitney) is a popular radio, TV and stage comedian known for a strong Southern accent and cunning jokes. Whitney recently entertained swarms of NASCAR fans at the infield FanZone of DIS before the green flag dropped at the Daytona 500.
“I love making people laugh,” Whitney said. “I always have. I never thought I’d be an entertainer. It was just something that happened. I didn’t really think about it.”
Fans might note a similarity in Earnhardt and Whitney comments that they might not have expected. It doesn’t stop here. It becomes oddly clear to some that Earnhardt and Whitney don’t get star-struck even by the enormous aura of their own stardust.
“I don’t see my personality as anything special or unique in anyway,” Earnhardt said. “All the things, the success, the star power of celebrity have been just short of a fluke. Like an oddity that could happen to anybody.”
Whitney seemed to echo Earnhardt once again.
“I’m going to try to be a comedian and the next thing I know it happened,” he said. “One thing led to another and I liked it. I was good at it. I just worked hard at it. I kept my eye on the prize and I didn’t waiver from it. That’s what I wanted to do.”
Earnhardt shared some insight into his experience.
“You get into racing thinking you’re working your guts out, and then you learn there’s another step, then you learn there’s another step,” He said. “You just keep finding more of yourself over a long period of time.”
Earnhardt also disclosed some regrets on his rise to the top.
“You look back and think about all those things you wished you had known when you were a kid to make it easier.”
Whitney expanded his take on what it takes to reach a pinnacle.
"It’s just the drive,” he said. “It’s something that you just love to do so much. And if you love doing it—It’s in ya, it’s in ya. It must have been in me. There is nothing I like better than getting on stage and making people laugh. It’s the funnest thing ever. ”
Larry the Cable Guy finished his stage appearance at DIS before a record crowd of fans in the infield stage area with his trademark comment, “Git-R-Done."
About nine hours later, after a rain delay, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished his racing night with a huge win in the Daytona 500.
Whitney shared his comical advice, and even though Earnhardt wasn’t in the Cable Guy’s audience to hear, he got his racing done in a spectacular manner.
The Daytona finish for both was special.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.