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Lucky Dog My Paw: Racer Ken Butler III Says There’s More To His Story Than A Powerful Papa

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 4 2009

Ken Butler said that in many ways his son’s path to NASCAR is no different than any other driver.  (NASCAR file photo)

Ken Butler said that in many ways his son’s path to NASCAR is no different than any other driver. (NASCAR file photo)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer

There are a lot of people who would say that Nationwide Series driver Ken Butler III is a “Lucky Dog” because his dad is president of Atlanta-based Aaron’s and therefore has ready access to the funds required for his son’s racing adventures.

Butler, who does have Aaron’s on the side of his No. 23 Chevrolet when he runs in Nationwide, said that’s not exactly the case.

“My dad did not bring any money,” he said, his facial expressions obviously indicating he tired of having to address the subject once again. He points out that while his dad Ken Butler is the high-profile president of the company and appears on TV ads representing Aaron’s, the reason he’s got money to race is because Aaron’s founder Charlie Loudermilk and his son Robin okayed the deal.

And he said that, yes, the look on his face is true. He does get tired of discussing the subject.

“It does get old, I’m telling you,” he said. “It’s all people talk about. It gets very old.

“I wish people would come up with something else to talk about.”

Ironically, the Butlers are among the fathers and sons out there looking for sponsorship for next year. The Aaron’s agreement was a one-year deal. And to make matters more complex, many potential backers want to tie in with Aaron’s and benefit from the company’s exposure in the sport. That’s something that likely won’t work in many situations.

What the Butlers do like to talk about is racing.

They were late-comers to the sport. When Ken Butler III was 18 his father carried him and brother Brett to a go-kart race at a track in Jefferson, Ga. They were instantly intrigued.

“We thought it would be easy, but it was tougher than we thought,” Butler III said.

The brothers advanced from go-karts to Late Models to the Pro Cup series and on to NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series.

Butler III said that despite his late start in the sport and the fact that he races for a comparatively low-budget team, he feels he’s making good progress as a driver.

“I feel like I’m getting close,” he said. “There’s still lots of room to improve, but I feel like I’m learning, learning more about how to qualify and how to race these guys.

“They’re the best in the world. I’m not far off, but I still have quite a bit of improvement to do.”

So far this season, he’s had two finishes of 17th – at Las Vegas and Kentucky – and an average finish of 27.2.

Dad Ken Butler said that in many ways his son’s path to NASCAR is no different than any other driver.

“Everybody’s here because of somebody’s money,” he said. “I’m certainly not rich. I am blessed to have been with Aaron’s for 35 years, and the Loudermilks have been gracious enough to sponsor him… It’s been a great ride. It got him started.”

But there are times when Dad wishes his sons had picked a cheaper hobby.

“When I bought those darn go karts, I told them, ‘I don’t know how to turn wrenches. I don’t know how to do anything. All I’ll do is put in the same amount of time and effort that you do.’

“That’s what I’ve done, and they have exceeded the effort to go into racing, so I’ve just paralleled their efforts.

“If they continue working hard, then I’m going to work hard with them. It would be easier for me of they back off a little bit, and I could go spend life on Lake Lanier and have fun.

“But a long as they want to chase the dream I’m going to help them.”

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 4 2009
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  • Son of Minter says:

    We call these guys the “Daddy’s Development Program”.

    Butler may be better than Townley, and actually has a win.