Wallace plans on hold

Nationwide Series competitor Kenny Wallace says the NASCAR offseason goes one of two ways for drivers. If a driver is in the middle of a contract, it’s vacation time.

But if a driver’s future is uncertain, it can be a stressful time. And this year, Wallace is facing the stress. His Jay Robinson Racing team has yet to secure sponsorship for 2010, leaving Wallace’s driving future up in the air.

“For the times in my career where I’ve had two- or three-year contracts signed, it’s just lovely," Wallace said recently. “The wintertime is just like Christmas vacation. Now, when you don’t have things signed, you spend the winter trying to gear up for next year, trying to find sponsorship, trying to figure out what’s going to happen, it’s a really long winter."

Wallace is in St. Louis this week, visiting family and friends like he’s done for many years. It’s been a busy offseason for him, juggling time searching for sponsorship with time spent opening Christmas presents.

He said he’s spent more than $2,000 of his own money on marketing materials to try to get sponsors.

“I am not lying, I am not exaggerating, I’ve always got my own sponsors," Wallace said, “and this is the hardest time I’ve ever had in my career."

But to know Wallace is to know that he doesn’t spend time crying over his future. His offseason included a cruise with about 100 of his family and friends, a tradition he’s had for 18 years.

Wallace and his family, wife Kim and daughters Brooke, Brandy and Brittany, began cruising with older brother Rusty many years ago. It developed into a “Kenny Cruise" that now includes a handful of fans, too.

This year’s cruise, Dec. 6 to Dec. 12, included stops in Belize and Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico. Wallace said the cruise is mostly for Kim, but he clearly enjoys it, too.

“When you go on the cruise, it feels like the year 2009," Wallace said. “When you get off the cruise, it feels like a new year because you’ve been gone for a while."

The “new year" also includes Christmas, which starts on Christmas Eve at his parents’ house. But that’s just the start.

Once he’s at home, Wallace carries on a different take of Santa Claus. And he’s been doing it for 23 years.

“I take the cover for the fireplace, and I put it on the carpet like Santa Claus knocked it over," Wallace said. “Then I have the wrought-iron gate where we put logs, and scatter them all around. Then I grab some red felt like Santa Claus ripped his suit. Then I take some milk and cookies and I make it look like it’s all been eaten.

“Then on Christmas morning, the girls are hollering, ‘Come on, Dad.’ And every Christmas morning I go, ‘Oh, my God. What did Santa do?’"

His three girls, now all over 18, still love it. And Wallace and his wife love being the glue of the entire Wallace clan.

“Our house is kind of like the Waltons," Wallace said. “We’re the ones who try to keep the Wallace family together. We hold Thanksgiving, we’re the ones who has the double oven and the big refrigerator. I’m kind of a sensitive guy: I like for everybody to love everybody."

He’d like to have some sponsorship, too, to make it a truly happy New Year.

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