Emily Maynard: NASCAR and the Nation's New Sweetheart

Michael ChungCorrespondent IIIFebruary 5, 2011

from www.poptower.com
from www.poptower.com

America is falling in love with Emily Maynard.

An event planner for a children’s hospital and a contestant on the Bachelor 15, Emily is vying to be the winner of Brad Womack’s heart. Her tragic story has become national news.

Emily is ready to love again after the love of her life, NASCAR's Ricky Hendrick, was killed in a plane crash on October 4, 2004. He was 24.

Ricky Hendrick began his racing career at the age 15. On July 7, 2001, Ricky Hendrick became the youngest driver to win his first race.

On the show, Emily and seven other contestants had a group date with Brad at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway where Ricky had his last race. His crash during the 2002 race injured his shoulder that required at least two months of recuperation before he would be medically cleared to race again. Ricky decided to retire at the young age of 22 and focused his NASCAR passion towards ownership. 

During the group date, Emily told Brad about how Ricky was a race car driver and how his last race was at the motor speedway in Las Vegas. Brad told her she did not have to drive the race car, but Emily insisted she was O.K. and needed to do it.

She is an example of embracing our grief and not running from it. Grief specialists often encourage the living to do these types of things because it brings healing to the soul despite having to relive pain.

On the show, a tearful Emily courageously raced her car around the motor speedway. She proclaimed that the first few laps were for Ricky and the last one was for her.

Those of us who have lost loved ones can sympathize and understand what Emily is going through. It is clear that Ricky will have a place in Emily’s heart forever.

Some people like Emily, never open themselves up to love again but Emily has taken the courageous step to put her heart out on the line and let people know that the world of NASCAR is deeper than just speed and races.

Emily has been described by one of the contestants as having the looks of a Barbie Doll but the soul of Mother Theresa. The girls want to hate her but cannot. Though only 25, Emily has displayed maturity beyond her years.

She is an example of how overcoming life’s hurts and disappointments can make our hearts and souls grow. Emily is showing the nation that beauty is much deeper than the outward appearances of the eyes but the inner character and kindness of the heart. She is becoming NASCAR's and the nation’s sweetheart.