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Earnhardts and builder draw up 22 house plans

- anorwood@charlotteobserver.com
Friday, Oct. 21, 2011

If you're from around North Carolina, you might know the connections that racing's Earnhardt family has to Kannapolis and Newton. Maybe even Pocono.

Probably not Speckled Trout, though, or Giant Sequoia.

Those are all names of house plans in the new Earnhardt Collection by Schumacher Homes. Rene and Kerry Earnhardt helped create the 22 plans in partnership with Schumacher. All the plans are named for members of the extended family, or for special places or memories. The connections are explained in family anecdotes on a new website, which I'll share in a moment.

"This has been a very sentimental project for us," Rene said earlier this week.

And the public response has been rewarding. Rene and Kerry announced the partnership during a press conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Then, a few days later, they promoted the collection during last weekend's race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"It has been nonstop," Kerry said this week. "People came up to us and said how appealing this is." The couple, who have four children, live in the Mooresville area.

Kerry Earnhardt is the oldest son of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. He's Dale Jr.'s half-brother. Kerry doesn't race anymore, but his son, Jeffrey - the fourth generation of racing Earnhardts - is scheduled to drive today in a truck race at Talladega.

Paul Schumacher said his company approached Rene and Kerry about the partnership. The builder had an idea, a new collection based on warm, casual living, but no plans. "Not one plan," he said. "We did it with them."

Schumacher Homes is a custom builder based in Canton, Ohio. It doesn't develop neighborhoods, but builds for families who own their lot or land. Customers pick plans and customize them online. Schumacher said the company has built about 150 homes in the greater Charlotte area since opening here in 2007.

The smallest home in the Earnhardt Collection is the Newton, at 960 square feet. Its base price is $93,900. The largest is the Live Oak at 3,420 square feet, with a base price of $268,900.

And Kerry Earnhardt is right: These designs are appealing. They feature lots of warm, familiar cabin details such as roof brackets, board-and-batten siding and welcoming front porches with columns.

Rene said her favorite spaces are the screened porches and other exterior gathering areas that can be customized for families that love the outdoors as much as the Earnhardts. Kerry said the focus on the outdoors was a natural. "Dad was an avid outdoorsman," he said, "whether it was fishing or four-wheeling."

Ever the car guy, Kerry said Schumacher offers lots of amazing garage options, too.

Some might find the partnership between Schumacher and the Earnhardts an unlikely one, but not racing folks. "When some first heard, they asked, 'What are y'all doing in home building?' " Rene said. "But for people who know us really well, (this) was no surprise."

Schumacher said his company has had to bring in extra people to handle online requests for Earnhardt Collection brochures - and already has sold a house from the collection. A customer in Greenville, S.C., plans to build the Honeysuckle plan.

The Honeysuckle features an island kitchen and a private owner's retreat - and is named with the Earnhardts' 19-year-old daughter, Blade, in mind. You can find out why, and discover which homes are named for Kerry's dad and his grandmother, at www.earnhardtcollection.com .

More racing news, blogs, photos and more at www.ThatsRacin.com.

Special to the Observer: Homeinfo@embarqmail.com

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