Lynne Allmendinger: The Woman Beside the "Dinger"

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IJune 9, 2009

The saying goes that behind every successful man there is a good woman. But in this case, there is a special woman right there beside her man, who just happens to be nicknamed NASCAR's "Dinger."

Lynne Allmendinger, wife of Richard Petty Motorsports driver A. J. Allmendinger, is not just the spouse of a NASCAR race car driver. 

She is a very accomplished woman herself, a former world class rhythmic gymnastic baton twirler and a respected chiropractor.

Lynne grew up in Toronto, the only child of a dry cleaner and an insurance executive. A.J. Allmendinger is also an only child, but he grew up on the west coast of the United States in California.

So, how did these two people from different countries even meet?  When A.J. was a Champ Car World Series race car driver, he used to travel with that series to Toronto. 

Lynne was dabbling at the time in public relations part-time while attending chiropractic college.

She did some of the work for the Toronto race and then started to go to other races "just for fun" to get away from class work on the weekends.

She eventually landed a job with the Champ Car series and in 2005, started a program called "Face of Champ Car."  This was a special program for girls, trying to educate females about racing.

Lynne started traveling with this program and in 2005 met A.J.  She said they "started as friends" but at the race in Cleveland, their friendship went to a higher level when A.J. offered to get Lynne from Cleveland back to Toronto for her graduation with her chiropractic degree. 

A.J. told her that he could definitely get her there "faster than anyone else," which of course was accurate with his skills as a race car driver.  Their friendship continued to deepen throughout the remainder of that year.

But as Lynne acknowledged, "A.J. lived in Denver at the time and I lived in Toronto."  She continued, "And that presented a big challenge."

Lynne went on, saying "I was also buying my chiropractic practice that I had in Toronto at the time".  So for both of them, it was a time of transition and change and they were unsure what that meant for their relationship.

"We were more like friends trying to figure out what to do," said Lynne.  "We didn't progress until 2006 really."

But the relationship really did begin to move along and their romance blossomed. Lynne and A.J. got married in January 2007 and have been inseparable ever since.

Besides her relationship with A.J., one of Lynne's other biggest passions is her chiropractic work.  She always wanted to be a chiropractor after experiencing her share of injuries in her dance, gymnastic, and rhythmic dancing championships.

While Lynne has her own practice now in North Carolina, where she and A.J. currently reside, she works with many patients who are in racing and on the road. Her practice, Advance Spinal Fitness, is in Mooresville, N.C., just north of Charlotte.

"They are my patients in the office, but I'll see them on the road as well," said Lynne.  "I'm on the same schedule as them, so that works out well, too."

Lynne actually has a chiropractic table right outside their motor home. She often sees patients in the motor home lot, including other race car drivers, media and motor coach drivers as well.

In fact, during this interview, one of the motor coach drivers came up, laid down on the table, and announced he was ready for his adjustment.  Lynne kindly rescheduled that appointment and the interview continued.

"My niche is probably athletes and people in sport," said Lynne.  "Those are my favorites because I think I understand them the most."

Lynne also marries her chiropractic passion with her racing name to benefit charities and to help others. 

Recently, she did a promotion where any new patient could come to her office for an initial exam and testing for a $50 donation to the NASCAR Foundation.

Lynne proudly announced that the simple promotion raised over $1,500 for the Foundation.  "It was great.  We raised money to help the charities of the Foundation and we got people healthier in the process," she said.

In addition to her successful chiropractic business and her charitable endeavors, Lynne also devotes herself to her husband's racing career.

She travels with A.J. every race weekend, accompanying him on the plane, setting up house in the motor coach, cooking for the team and guests, and sitting atop the pit box each and every race.

Lynne admits that the past few years have been a challenge. 

"It's actually been a roller coaster for the whole two and a half years that we've been married", said Lynne.

"I don't think there's been a stable moment at all," said Lynne.  "It's challenging.  Even when we were with the team, with Red Bull, there were still moments that we felt insecure about that."

Lynne continued, "A.J. was a complete rookie with the team and with NASCAR, coming from open wheel racing.  Then it got really "turmoilish" at the end of last year with the team switch."

"But it was one of the best things that could have happened to him because it showed him that he can do it, and he can do this as a stock car driver", said Lynne.

"I think it's been a good thing ultimately," said Lynne,  "We're settling in with the team". 

"Things are going really well, continued Lynne. "But all in all, A.J. is really happy here and especially enjoys working with Richard Petty".

"The King is awesome", said Lynne.  "He's always here and always present.  He tries to help the drivers in any way he can."

While things are going well for A.J. and his new team, sponsorship is still a challenge.  "There are still certain races where we need sponsors," said Lynne.  "We're still hoping that AJ will run until the end of the year."

"We're still a little guy," said Lynne.  "We're still working our way up the food chain."

Talk about working hard, both Lynne and A.J. worked liked demons to try to get A.J. into the recent All-Star Race.  They fell just shy of that goal, with Joey Logano getting the top votes to get into the race.

"We were disappointed yet happy," said Lynne. "Knowing who we were up against, that's a big thing."

"I told A.J., to me, you're still the fan pick," said Lynne. "I told A.J. that I think you're the little guy and knowing you did that well, that means that a lot of people respect you and wanted you to get in."

She went on to share that both A.J. and Logano were asked to go to the gas pumps prior to the All-Star Race.  At that time, they were told that Logano had some damage to the car and they wanted A.J. to be ready just in case, since he was No. 2."

"So we were both happy and sad," Lynne summarized.

Lynne relishes her life with A.J. on the road and has attended every race since their marriage.  She shows the "race rookies" (those at the track for the very first time) how it all works.

Lynne also prides herself on her culinary abilities at the track. Her favorite dish to fix is called "Sex in a Pan."

"Sex in a Pan is awesome," said Lynne. "This dish is a five layer special dessert made with a pecan crust, cheating cheese cake, vanilla pudding, chocolate pudding, Cool Whip and then it's topped with chocolate shavings."

A.J.'s other favorite dishes are either chicken or pasta, which is the routine meal before every race.  Lynne shared that A.J. was "pleasantly surprised" by her cooking prowess, especially her baking and grilling abilities.

Lynne and A.J. have recently added another companion on the road, their new puppy Misty (pictured with Lynne above).  If Misty looks familiar, it is because she has starred as the puppy Marley in the recent movie Marley and Me.

When asked about adding to the family with a child, Lynne admits that they are not quite ready to take that step yet.  "Maybe down the road," said Lynne.

Right now, Lynne is focused on her career, as well as supporting A.J in his racing career.  She is also getting more involved with WAM, Women's Auxiliary of Motorsports, an organization focused on the women behind the men on the track. 

"Maybe that's an avenue that I'm going to go down soon," said Lynne.  "I can get to know some of the other women in the garage."

Lynne is close to Mike Skinner's wife, Angie, and she has been working with her on various charity events.  Angie also was responsible for hooking up the Allmendingers with their new puppy Misty.

Lynne is also committed to connecting with A.J.'s fans.  She has a Facebook page and regularly posts pictures for the fans, as well as answering their questions.

She shared that A.J. has a new website.  He has also begun to Twitter, although not while driving the race car.

"Both of us are really grateful for those people, who when it was really rough, have still stuck with us," said Lynne.

One of her favorite fan groups is a group of "cops, paramedics and firemen" that routinely go to Talladega.  "It's kind of cool because those guys were liking A.J. from Day One" said Lynne.  "Those are the people that we can't thank enough for sticking with us".

Lynne Allmendinger describes herself as a sensible driver's wife. "I'm always asking myself what flat shoes can I wear that can get me to the medical center quickly" in case of any mishap by A.J. on the track.

The final five questions of the interview and Lynne's answers were as follows:

1.  Favorite Indulgence?  "Food in general. Going to dinner with me can be expensive, as I like a little bit of everything".

2.  Favorite movie?  "Grease, Dirty Dancing, and Top Gun"

3.  Favorite curse word?  "I'll use quite a few; track mouth I call it.  I don't lean on one more than any...have used them all".

4.  Favorite piece of clothing?  "Jeans are my favorite.  Anything Victoria's Secret, not because it's Victoria's Secret, but because it makes my figure look good."

5.  Thing You Like About Yourself the Most?  "I'm proud of my accomplishments, and my drive and motivation."

In short, A.J. Allmendinger is most fortunate to have Lynne as a partner, in life and in racing.  Lynne hopes that in five years both she and A.J. will "still be sitting here in NASCAR, moving up the ranks as we go."


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