Recently, Dana Wilson took a little time to answer some questions for Queers4Gears. Wife of Shane Wilson (crew chief for the RCR 33), her friendliness, wit, and charm have made her one of the most popular NASCAR personalities on Twitter. The most fan-friendly of the NASCAR spouses, you can find her on Twitter at@MrsCrewChief. Many thanks to Dana for her time and her humor!
Carla Page: Thanks so much for taking a little time to talk with Q4G, Dana. Obvious question first. Tell us a little bit about how you and Shane met. Was it love at first sight?
Dana Wilson: Thank you for asking me!
I was the Public Relations Coordinator at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and I had to interview Shane for the cover story of the program for the (then) NASCAR Winston West Series race. He was only my second interview- the first was Brendan Gaughan- Shane’s driver at the time. I had no clue what I was doing, made a total fool of myself (at least it felt that way). Then to top it all off, I had been told the wrong last name for Shane, and throughout the story I referred to him as Shane Hall. He never corrected me. It became particularly funny later after we’d been dating for several months, when they called him Shane Hall in a Dallas Star article written after they won their 4th race in a row at Texas Motor Speedway in the Truck Series. Why is it funny? My maiden name is Hall. The guys picked on Shane forever.
I wouldn’t call it love at first sight, but there is something about Shane. You can’t help but like him. It took us both awhile before we would even admit we were dating. I remember finally asking him, “What exactly are we? Dating? Boyfriend and girlfriend? What?” He paused and then said, “We’re together, but I don’t want you to move in with me.” Haha, I still laugh about that. I of course said, “I don’t want to live with you!” Six months later I moved in. About a year later, he proposed.
CP: Were you a fan of racing before you and Shane became a couple?
DW: I’ve always loved anything that goes fast- cars, boats, motorcycles, horses, planes, anything… but I wasn’t a NASCAR fan specifically. In fact, I used to make fun of people that “drive in circles” for a living. Even now when people ask me if I’m a NASCAR fan, I tell them, “I’m a Shane fan.”
CP: What is it like for you to now be a NASCAR personality with your own fans?
DW: I have to admit, I laughed at first when I read that question. I hope that doesn’t come across the wrong way, but I can’t help but think, “You’re kidding, right? Me?” Sort of how when you asked me for the interview, I asked, “Why would you want to talk to me?” I just don’t think of myself that way. I’m a person that’s never met a stranger. I love people. I love meeting new people, hearing their stories. I’m assuming the fans you’re referring to are on twitter, so my answer is that I don’t think of them as my fans. They’re just my buddies on twitter, and I enjoy interacting with them very much. I will say this though- the outpouring after New Hampshire last year was amazing. It really did help to know people care. I feel like the fans give that to each other on Twitter as well, not just to the people in the industry. It’s a beautiful thing.
CP: How hard is it to stay out of the NASCAR drama that inevitably pops up on Twitter? How difficult is it to not react when people say unpleasant things about Shane’s choices as a crew chief?
DW: Sometimes I really have to bite my tongue, and that can be difficult since I am pretty vocal and honest. First and foremost though, I would never want to say anything that could inadvertently hurt Shane somehow. (Or our wallet for that matter, have you seen some of those fines from people spouting off?!) I also care what people think of me, maybe more than I should. But, I try to remember that I’m there for fun, for camaraderie… so I try very hard to just not engage.
Earlier this summer, people started saying ugly things about Shane, which eventually led me to take a break from Twitter for about a month. I don’t think I will ever get used to people thinking it’s acceptable to be downright vicious, simply because you’re not looking the person in the face. It’s very, very hurtful. And honestly, what people have said to us is nothing compared to what some of our racing friends have to tolerate. However, I understand that fans are very passionate about their drivers and passion is what the sport is about. When all else fails, I focus on the fact that the hateful ones are equally as uninformed as they are mean, they really have no clue. I also have some outstanding “followers” that have intervened on my behalf, giving me both reprieve and a hearty chuckle.
CP: You’ve talked a little bit on Twitter about enjoying your alone time. What is your favorite thing to do by yourself?
DW: Quality alone time, I have a lot of it! Especially with all these rain delays lately. Shane usually leaves on Thursdays, and I have a bit of a ritual for that night. Whatever book I’m reading at the time takes me out on a date to my favorite Italian restaurant. I get a corner booth, read my book, sip some red wine, eat my penne with broccoli. As Shane would say, it’s “civilized.” I also love trail riding the horses, or just loving on them, brushing them. I can’t remember a day in my life when I didn’t love them. Oh, and I Twitter. A lot.
CP: You’ve also talked about barrel racing. How did you get involved in barrel racing? What is your favorite thing about the sport?
DW: I’ve always loved horses and the western lifestyle; I wanted to be Annie Oakley when I was a kid. In high school, I got to know a woman named Marjie, who lived not far down the road from my parent’s house. I worked for her in exchange for riding lessons, and we became friends. It didn’t take long for us to realize I wouldn’t be showing horses in walk/trot classes (aka SLOW). I began helping her exercise her barrel horses, and going to barrel races to help her (she raced multiple horses and put shows on). I never raced back then though. I fell in love with how much spirit the barrel horses have, how much they want to do their jobs. All through college, and then my four years in Las Vegas, I did anything I could just to be able to ride. At the end of 2003, Shane got his first cup crew chief job (at Penske) and we were moving from Las Vegas to North Carolina. I said to him, “Here’s the deal. If you get to have your dream, so do I.” He was all for it. It took about a year of looking, but 10 years after I met her, Marjie helped me find my first horse, Cody. Five years later, I got my grey horse Dashy, who I eventually won my first race on. On July 4th, I bought a year old colt I named Rio. He’s the first horse I’ll try to train myself, break to ride, the whole she-bang. That story should be interesting for Twitter followers, haha! But what do I love MOST about barrel racing? Even more than the adrenaline\speed, I love the relationship with the horse. I’ve come out the alleyway after a run with tears of happiness streaming down my face, and not because we won. Because of what we accomplished together, because the horse chose to give me all they had and we did it together. Aside from Shane, my horses make me the best version of myself.
CP: Are there any other sports you’re involved in, or would like to get involved in?
DW: As far as what I actually participate in… I’ve competed in triathlons. I enjoy working out and staying fit. I love to shoot, my favorite is sporting clays. I compete on the Remington Ladies team, but our main goal is to mentor and get more women involved in shooting. I also love being on the water. I can wakeboard, but I like slalom skiing better. (Higher speed, ya know.) I grew up skiing and snowboarding, but haven’t gone in a long time. [Sidenote from DW: Also, I can’t believe I forgot, probably because I don’t practice regularly, but I have a blackbelt in Taekwondo.]
CP: If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would it be? What about Shane?
DW: I wish I didn’t worry so much. I swear I could make a career of it. As for Shane? Hm. I wish he would talk more! It’s like pulling teeth, getting him to talk. And seeing as how I have so much quality alone time, it would be terrific if he could chat it up a bit! But then….I’d have to stop talking, so maybe that wouldn’t work after all.
CP: When Shane is home, what do you do to unwind and relax?
DW: We always try to have dinner together, and TVs and phones aren’t allowed. We sit down at the table, and I try to get him to talk, haha. Seriously though, the dinner table is where some of our best quiet time together happens. We also take the dogs up to feed the horses in the evening, let them run, have a couple cold ones, dream big.
CP: Did you attend college? What did you study?
DW: Michigan State University. BS in Hospitality Business (Hotel, Restaurant and Casino Management), minors in Spanish and German.
CP: Now for a slightly more fun question. Your love of animals is well known. So, if you could be any animal, what animal would you be?
DW: Being any one of our animals would suffice, haha. They have the life. Otherwise, a lioness.
CP: What do you consider your favorite kind of music? Your guilty pleasure?
DW: The music depends on the mood. I listen to almost everything except the really angry rap. I like Classic Rock, Country, bubble gum pop (did I really just say that?), alternative. Love Mumford & Sons. I also have a lot of music in other languages. [Sidenote from DW via Twitter: I studied piano for 12 years, so I also enjoy classical or anything acoustic.]
Guilty pleasure… definitely my “antioxidants”! I love Hershey’s dark chocolate chips (the big bag from the baking aisle) and red wine.
CP: What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
DW: I wish Shane wouldn’t make so much noise and wake me up this early. If Shane isn’t there… I wish Shane were here to feed the dogs & cats so they would be quiet and let me sleep. (I enjoy sleeping immensely.)
CP: When you look ahead to the future, where do you see yourself in 10 years?
DW: Sitting with Shane on the back porch of the house we will build eventually, overlooking the 18 acres we bought, horses grazing in the fields. My dream come true.