NASCAR’s supportive embrace helps Chris Myers cope with tragedy – Orlando Sentinel
Myers and Hendrick buried their sons. Earnhardt buried his father.
Everyone has pushed on as best they can over the years, despite the occasional tug of the heart, the tears, the emptiness, and the confusion.
“It’s good to be around people who understand what you’re going through,” Myers said. “Sometimes you need the space. Sometimes you need the company. And sometimes you don’t even know.”
Christopher Dakota Myers was 19 when his car ran off the road and crashed in Southern California. That was five years ago, Feb. 16, 2012. Speedweeks, the traditional start of another NASCAR season. The beginning of a new reality for Chris Myers and his family.
Myers — a familiar face for the FOX Sports team in Daytona and beyond — has suffered in silence publically for the most part. But he has felt the loving touch of his extended NASCAR family, and other sports celebrities, through the years.
Hendrick — whose son Ricky died in an airplane crash in Virginia in 2004 — sent a private plane so people from FOX could get to the funeral in California. NASCAR President Mike Helton told him that whenever he was ready to go back to work he could bring his entire family with him.
“I saw the best of people,” Myers said, choking up.
The tragic symmetry goes back to Myers’ first season with FOX and NASCAR broadcasts. It was 2001, the year Earnhardt died on the last lap of the Daytona 500.
Myers is in the midst of completing a resume-stuffing trifecta over the last month. The Super Bowl, when he broke through the scrum to grab Tom Brady for an emotional post-game presser. The Westminster Dog Show, where the winner, Rumor (a German Shepherd), was less communicative. From Dogs to Daytona.
But this week is always bittersweet.
“I had to drive by the same spot where his accident was,” Myers said. “I asked Dale Earnhardt Jr. about his dad afterwards dealing with that, and of course having to relate to it in a different way my own emotions.”
Myers, 57, has found ways to channel those emotions into good things. Christopher Myers was a dog lover who volunteered at an animal shelter in Agoura Hills, Calif.
Myers and his wife Sue has honored their son’s legacy, owning three rescue dogs — a Jack Russell and a Chihuahua and a mixed breed. And they continue to support the shelter(Lifeanimalrescue.com).
“It’s sad and tragic but we have to go on,” Myers said. “We have to go on to help each other. Rick Hendrick had to go on to help Junior, to help me. We’re all intertwined in this. You feel it in moments like this.”
He chokes back tears again. Not to worry. He has a group hug waiting for him again this week.