KNOXVILLE, Iowa – It’s 4 p.m. Wednesday, 27 hours before Kyle Larson straps onto a sprint car at the 60th Knoxville Nationals, and the line-up in front of Larson’s gleaming white merchandise trailer is 20. .
With fans starting to enter the Marion County Fairgrounds, there are certainly patrons who are also mingling with the t-shirt trailers of other drivers. But Larson’s crowd of clients? It’s in another league.
Inside the trailer, four people help fans select the clothes they want. One of them is Katelyn Larson, Kyle’s wife, who has practically a full-time summer job with merchandise.
“I barely helped her once and I was like, ‘I’m not sure I want to do this again,'” Kyle said. “It’s hard work and I think a lot of the wives and girlfriends who do it are not appreciated enough. It takes time during the week, with the organization and ordering and all that, and then you’ve seen the lines once you’re on the track. You don’t have time to barely breathe.
Between storing the trailer and revamping the shirts at home or selling direct to fans every day on the track, it can be a chore for Katelyn. But she doesn’t question it or see the need to hire someone else to fill her role.
“This is who I am,” she said. “I grew up in this sport and I really love (selling). Interacting with fans is fun and constantly refreshing after what happened last summer.
Of course, what happened last summer is quite a journey. Her husband used a racial insult during a live broadcast of a race sim, was suspended from NASCAR and lost his race to Chip Ganassi Racing, then went to dirt racing – where he won at a pace unbelievable.