Steve Hmeil – Takes the High Road October 19, 2007Posted by claireblang in In The Garage, Teams.
Note: Cup practice began here at Martinsville a few minutes ago and it’s been stopped (after 15 minutes) because of rain. Jeff Gordon was leading in practice at 94.718 when practice was halted, (2nd) John Andretti, (3rd) Tony Raines, (4th)Jeff Burton, (5th) Jeff Green.NEXTEL Cup qualifying has been moved to 4:45 p.m. and the weather looks af it will rain on the NASCAR qualifying parade but we are hopeful. Gordon was fast off the truck having run only three laps before the rain came here.
Steve Hmeil LIVE Yesterday on “Dialed In” With Claire B. Lang After Parting Ways with DEI
Everyone here in the garage at Martinsville is talking about the impending rain. That, and the news of Steve Hmeil and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. parting ways. People are shocked – and up and down the garage stalls here they are saying that Hmeil will have no shortage of offers.
Last night on my “Dialed In” show – I called up Hmeil – the former technical director at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. who parted ways with DEI yesterday. He was fresh from clearing his desk out – and making an emotional walk out of the DEI building a place that was part of his character for nine years. I would not have minded if he did not take my cell phone call and took the night to think things over before going on my national show. I would have understood if his cell phone went to voice mail. He did not ignore my call. He agreed to come on and talk with me immediately.
He knew clearly why it was time for him to move on and, with class, he supported the direction DEI is going. During the LIVE interview last night with me he was candid and honest – and supportive of team DEI.
‘I want everybody to know it was a tremendous experience for me,” he told me. “I’ve only had 3 jobs in 33 years and I was glad for what happened at Richard Petty years ago and Jack Roush’s and now at Dale Earnhardt’s. That place will have a spot in my heart forever but this isn’t an emotional time, this is a time where you got to go out and make sure you continue to make a living and continue to make an impact on a sport you dedicated your entire life to. Im not quiting and im not giving up. Im just going to apply my trait to another direction and I just want to be in a situation that appeals to me.”
Hmeil has long been a guy to go to to if you need someone to explain a test session or a technical procedure to the race fans. He can take a mechanical issue and put it into layman’s terms better than anyone I know. He is passionate about the sport and his race team and he doesn’t mind if that passion shows. He’s hard charging and knows it – but the garage is made up of guys like that.
He’s lived through the good and bad parts of the sport. He’s seen it’s thrills an the pain it can deliver and he’s one of the true racers left in the garage.
It may be that the time has come that it was simply time to move on..but it won’t be easy.
“Things change, you know 8, 9 years is a long time,” Hmeil told me on the air yesterday. ” Im not saying things got worse or better, things are just different. I haven’t been as motivated as I was years ago of late. Its not a difficult situation there but its one that requires a lot of patience. I consider myself a young man. I want to do another 20-25 years in this business. Im anxious to go, im anxious to move forward, I want to see things get better. Probably a little over anxious at times but it felt like I would be letting myself down if I didn’t explore myself a little bit and go off and do something different. Its time for both parties to do something different.We shook hands and walked away. I had a terrific time there are some wonderful people there, I have great respect for what all has happened there. It has something to do with the sport changing, with DEI changing, it has a little bit to do with me still chomping at the bit with me wanting to prove something”
As always, when things like this happen – usually something better comes of it. It’s hard for both sides to cut the ties, to agree that it’s time to split. For Hmeil to box up the memories and move on when so much of his life has wrapped around DEI was the kind of pain that everyone understands…. it’s growing pains.
He’ll do just fine.