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DeLana Harvick Firesuit T-Shirt & KHF Merchandise
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DeLana dishes on firesuits, T-shirts, Logano's words
Attire on pit road came about after thinking about safety
By Joe Menzer, NASCAR.COM
June 9, 2010
The last thing DeLana Harvick expected when she attended last Sunday's Gillette 500 at Pocono Raceway was to find herself in the center of a controversial firestorm -- over her firesuit, nonetheless.
But that's exactly what happened after her husband, Kevin Harvick, got involved in a crash with Joey Logano on what was the last scheduled lap of the long event. Harvick and those in his No. 29 Chevrolet camp thought it was Logano's fault or just one of those "racing incidents" where two guys end up going for the same piece of real estate late in a race and one inevitably loses. Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota, thought otherwise.
In fact, Logano was so infuriated that he drove his car right next to Harvick's on pit road following the race. Then he revved his engine and later his mouth, telling reporters: "His wife wears the firesuit in the family and tells him what to do. It's probably not his fault."
DeLana Harvick said Tuesday that she wasn't sure why Logano chose to bring her into it.
"I was at the race and I started getting all these text messages, and I wasn't really sure what they were all referring to. I just didn't understand," she said. "I didn't understand how my name got brought into the situation. I wasn't anywhere near where it happened. I was standing back, watching it take place. So it threw me off in the beginning.
"But the more I thought about it later, I was kind of like, well, if I had my way with Kevin, I would like to have him take me out to a nice dinner or maybe give me a back rub or an ankle rub. Having him wreck Joey Logano wouldn't even make my radar screen if I had almighty control over Kevin."
DeLana said she and Kevin Harvick have been bombarded with e-mails, text messages and phone calls since the incident by outraged supporters of the No. 29. Logano's choice of post-race words have been a hot topic on NASCAR.COM as well, with some e-mailers, bloggers and comment-makers wondering why in the heck DeLana wears a firesuit in the first place and others insisting that Logano somehow offended women everywhere with his post-race comment.
First things first. DeLana Harvick said she already has dismissed Logano's comment as something said merely in the heat of a tense moment.
"They were showing replays way after the race was over, and I happened to catch the comment. It caught me off-guard. I was kind of confused," she admitted. "Like I said, I didn't understand why I got brought into a situation that I wasn't involved in at all. So at first I wasn't sure how to take it.
“I guess it's been over seven years now that I've been wearing the suit. And really when Kevin first came into the Cup Series it was in the wake of Adam [Petty] and Kenny [Irwin] and Dale [Earnhardt] passing -- and at the time there was a big safety push.”-- DeLana Harvick "But the more I thought about it, it was a 20-year-old kid who was really mad. And you know what? I've said things when I was really mad when I was really young; heck, I say things now -- I'm not going to tell you how old I am, but it's older than 20 -- and I still say things that are kind of silly sometimes. So I wasn't offended by it; I was more confused by it."
Within 24 hours, she decided to take advantage of the entire incident by having a little fun with it. She got together with some marketing folks and started selling T-shirts on the Kevin Harvick Inc. web site. The shirts are white with pink lettering that say, "I wear the firesuit in this family."
As of Tuesday, DeLana Harvick said hundreds had been sold and she was having trouble keeping them in stock after the initial allotment went out the door quicker than expected.
"We got home later that night and Kevin said something," she said. "And I just fired back, 'Don't forget, I wear the firesuit in this family.' Then all of a sudden it was like a lightbulb went off in my head and I thought, 'You know, I have a lot of really loyal fans who are women who I'm quite sure wear the pants -- or the firesuit -- in their family.' So I thought it would be kind of fun, just to poke fun at it."
"We've had to reorder twice already. The funny thing is, I really didn't think it would be that big a deal. I wanted to poke fun at a situation that I really didn't understand how I got brought into, to be honest with you."
So why does she wear the team firesuit while sitting atop Harvick's pit box for Sprint Cup races?
"I guess it's been over seven years now that I've been wearing the suit. And really when Kevin first came into the Cup Series it was in the wake of Adam [Petty] and Kenny [Irwin] and Dale [Earnhardt] passing -- and at the time there was a big safety push," DeLana Harvick said.
"There were a lot of things coming on that we had never seen before -- the Hutchens device, the HANS device, carbon-fiber seats. And so I was constantly on Kevin. I was constantly asking him, 'What are you doing to be safe in the car? What are they doing to the car? What are you doing with all these devices?' And he finally came back and said, 'Well, what are you doing to be safe?' I was like, 'What do you mean?' And he was like, 'Well, you're sitting up there on the pit box. What are you doing to be safe?' My response was, 'I don't know. I've never really thought about that.'
"At the time you didn't see the elaborate pit boxes that you see today. They were pretty simple, like some of the ones you still see now. But it got me to thinking about it, and I thought he made a pretty valid point. Coincidentally, about that time, there started to be a lot of fires on pit road. I just started to take more notice of my surroundings on pit road and the pit box. So I asked him, 'What do you think about me wearing a firesuit?' And he said, 'I think that's pretty smart.' Especially now with the pit boxes being so big, if the gas spills out of the gas can and ignites around the generator and it erupts, it takes only one time to get injured.
"So for me, it's a personal choice. I would like to see everyone on pit road in a firesuit. That would make me feel a lot better. But I don't know. For me, it's just the right thing to do."
She said she understands that some people do not get it.
"It can be seen both ways. I think a lot of people want to mock and make fun of it. I guess maybe they don't understand the reasons behind why I do it," she said. "And then there are a lot of people who do understand and are very supportive. They feel like it's my decision and they also see it as my way of being supportive of the team. I don't know. I just feel like it's the right decision for me."
Critics also have pointed out that when she's on top of Kevin's pit box for Nationwide races, she frequently is spotted in "regular clothes" without a firesuit on. She explained her reasoning behind that as well, citing increased responsibilities on the Nationwide and Truck Series teams she co-owns with her husband. Kevin Harvick drives for Richard Childress Racing in the Cup Series.
"The challenge I face [on Saturdays] is I have a lot more responsibilities as KHI has continued to grow -- with sponsors and things that I do before the race," DeLana said. "I'm usually hustling right up until the time of the race. So for me, I have all these other commitments. The challenge for me is how do I work those in and then do I make the time to change [into a firesuit] or not. It doesn't make me feel comfortable [to not be in one], and what I like to do is get off the pit box during pit stops. Have I been on the pit box during the pit stops [and not in a firesuit]? Yep. Absolutely. It doesn't make me comfortable. But for the most part -- I'm going to say 99.9 percent of the time -- I get off of the pit box and leave the pit-box area. I won't even stand in the pit-box area on Saturdays.
"For me, it's more of a timing issue on Saturdays -- because I've got a lot of stuff going on. Sometimes I go straight down from a suite for driver introduction and the invocation and national anthem with Kevin, and I certainly don't want to miss that time with him before the race starts. So it is a challenge. But I hope I can find a good solution to that."
In the end, DeLana Harvick said wearing a firesuit is a personal decision. She also said she understands why some people question it.
"I wouldn't say that I don't care," she said. "But I get a lot of questions on why I don't remove my hat for the national anthem. I was brought up that women don't have to remove their hat. I'm not being disrespectful; that's just my choice and that's what I believe.
"So for me and my personal choice of wearing the firesuit, that's just what I want to do. I certainly care what people think. But if I think I've made a personal decision or a right decision, I'm not going to change what I believe."