NASCAR WCUP: Eddie Jarvis: A Driver & Friend Nobody Knows
5 May 1999Jarvis Pilots NASCAR Driver Steve Park's Motorhome
Most fans haven't heard of Eddie Jarvis. But if you ask any Winston Cup driver to list some of the most important people in his life, Jarvis and his compatriots are as high on that list as friends, family, and crew members.
Jarvis is the motorhome driver for #1 Pennzoil Monte Carlo race driver Steve Park. It doesn't take long for Park to let anyone know his feelings for his coach driver.
"Sweet Daddy is the man," laughs Park whenever asked about Jarvis whom he helped nickname. "I can't even begin to tell you what my life would be like without him. Sometimes people even mistake him for my Dad."
Jarvis takes his job as seriously as any crew chief, tire changer or mechanic on the Dale Earnhardt Inc. team.
"My job is basically to take care of Steve," said the silver-haired Jarvis. "That means driving to the track, setting up the motorhome, cooking, doing his laundry, making sure he gets to where he needs to be on time and anything he needs done. That's what I do."
But it's more than just the work and driving 50,000 miles each year.
"We are friends. When Steve broke his leg last year we got real tight. I was at his house every day for about 8 weeks," said the Paducah, Ky. native. "I'd do just about anything for him."
Jarvis's typical weekend begins on Thursday when he leaves Dale Earnhardt Inc. in Park's 50-foot, red and white American Eagle motorhome. Usually he and Jimbo Diggs, Dale Earnhardt's coach driver, travel together to the track where they setup the motorhomes in a special lot set aside by the racetrack. For the next three days that lot is home for Park and most Winston Cup drivers.
Jarvis's next stop is a local grocery store where he knows just what type of foods to buy for Park. After stocking the refrigerator, Jarvis arranges Park's clothes, uniforms, hats, autograph pens, and posts his weekend schedule.
"Steve is a very organized person and so am I," Jarvis said. "I try to make that motorhome as much like a regular home as possible. He's got so many things to worry about during the weekend that it helps when I can take care of a lot of the details."
When Park arrives Thursday night; Jarvis gives him the keys and then heads to a local hotel where he will stay throughout the weekend. But his duties aren't over. He still cleans the interior and exterior of the motorhome on Fridays and Saturday, helps Park with his scheduling, and even cooks for the second-year driver.
"We kind of have a tradition where I cook Steve pasta on Saturday nights and then on Sunday I accompany him to driver introductions and stand with him at the race car," Jarvis said.
When the race is over, Jarvis joins racefans in waiting for traffic to disperse then he fires up the motorhome and returns to North Carolina. He'll clean the motorhome on Monday and then take a few days off to spend time with wife Dana, and daughters Shannon, 19, and Stacey, 15. Then the schedule begins again.
"It's a rewarding life. I get to go around the country and see places I never thought I would ever see," said Jarvis. "But the time away from home is tough. You have to have a good wife to do this and I do."
Jarvis worked for Kenny Wallace two years before he joined Park in 1998 and worked for a souvenir company for several years driving a truck all over the country. The 41-year-old likes his life.
He and his fellow coach drivers in the "trailer park" as they call it are all friendly and ready to lend a helping hand. They often travel in a convoy to the race and eagerly help the other out whenever there is a problem.
"There isn't a lot of fame or glory but it is rewarding. I kind of share in Steve's ups and downs. When he hurts I hurt and when he's happy I'm happy. I told him when we started in 1998 that I'd like to be his coach driver until he retires and I hope that includes many trips for the Pennzoil car to victory lane."