Considered one of the most prominent businesswomen in NASCAR today, Kelley Earnhardt Miller is the backbone to JR Motorsports, as she oversees the company’s race team, management team, and business ventures for her brother, Dale Earnhardt Jr. She began working for Earnhardt Jr., in 2001 when she joined JR Motorsports in its infancy as the vice president and general manager. Under her leadership, JRM has grown to more than 100 employees, and it fields teams in the NASCAR Nationwide Series as well as a late model touring program. In 2010 Earnhardt Miller joined her brother and prominent businessman Rick Hendrick in making up the ownership group of JR Motorsports.
Despite being the daughter of seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt and dabbling with a driving career of her own, Earnhardt Miller’s rise in the business ranks was a traditional one. She graduated from UNC-Charlotte in 1995 with a B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in Production and Operations Management. Earnhardt immediately landed at Action Performance, lending her creative intuition and business flair to a souvenir sales company that became the benchmark in NASCAR merchandising. Her many roles during the six-year span included vice president of sales and vice president of procurement.
Earnhardt Miller’s move to JR Motorsports in 2001 was significant in the career of her racing brother, who had burst onto the NASCAR scene with Nationwide Series championships in 1998 and 1999. He then became one of the sport’s most publicized figures when he surged into full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition in 2000. His immediate success on the track further catapulted his popularity, and it beckoned for savvy leadership that could maximize his immense appeal. Earnhardt Miller instantly began expanding her brother’s business portfolio, landing corporate deals that would intensify his reach as both a racer and businessman.
In 2007 Earnhardt Miller was the recipient of the Top 25 Women in Business Achievement Award by Charlotte Business Journal. In an Associated Press article in April 2007, Earnhardt Miller was referred to as “one of the most powerful people in the sport of NASCAR.” In December 2009, Earnhardt Miller was listed as the third-most powerful woman in NASCAR by ESPN.com columnist Ryan McGee.
In February 2010 Earnhardt Miller was named Opportunity Award winner by Lyn St. James’ Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation for her part in bringing IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick to NASCAR. With numerous teams vying for Patrick’s attention, it was Earnhardt Miller who lured the 28-year-old driver to JR Motorsports, giving the company one of the most recognized driver tandems in NASCAR with Earnhardt Jr. and Patrick.
Aside from duties as general manager at JR Motorsports and agent for her brother, Earnhardt Miller is on the board of directors for The Dale Jr. Foundation. Additionally, she serves as chairman of the board of Blueharbor Bank, she is on the board of trustees for Iredell Memorial Hospital, and she is a prominent member of the North Carolina Governor’s Motorsports Advisory Council.