Daisy Earnhardt has never had a car payment. She's unaffected by high gas prices because she doesn't have to pay for gas. The vivacious blonde — granddaughter of Tex, Valley founder of Earnhardt Auto Centers — even gets to trade in her vehicle (currently a lifted Ford truck) for a new one every other month or so.
But don't think of the 24-year-old as the East Valley's version of Paris Hilton. While she's certainly beautiful and wealthy, there's no denying Earnhardt is down-to-earth.
She shops at Target. She frequents dive bars. And she doesn't drop her name to gain entry into celebrity-filled events.
‘‘I don't think of myself as a socialite,’’ Earnhardt says. ‘‘When I think of a socialite, I think of someone who's snobby, high-maintenance and into brand names.”
Earnhardt works full time at Earnhardt Ford, where she helps coordinate marketing events. She grew up in Queen Creek. She graduated from Gilbert High School in ’99 and went on to Arizona State University, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in communication in 2004.
The daughter of Tex's son Hal, Daisy has three siblings: Dodge, 26, who is being groomed to take over the family business; Derby, 22, an ASU business major; and Dream, 15, a freshman at Basha High School.
Daisy, who insists she's a homebody (she's preparing to trade in her Tempe condo for a house in Chandler), nevertheless invites Get Out to join her and her friends for a Friday night on the town to see how the other half parties.
8:30 p.m. - Pasta Brioni, Scottsdale
Earnhardt arrives at Pasta Brioni — an Italian restaurant known for its attractive staff — in a chauffeured white Ford Excursion (courtesy of Dad's dealership) with a small entourage that includes 23-year-old Audra Wilder, who is visiting from Thousand Oaks, Calif., and 26-year-old Shannon Dunlop of Ahwatukee Foothills.
Shannon Johnson, 23, and Sarah McClanahan, 23, both of Scottsdale, meet up with the dinner party a few minutes later.
Earnhardt, who is wearing a leopard tank top and denim True Religion jeans and wears a small stud in her nose, and her friends are dressed to kill. A few of the restaurant’s staff immediately greet them by name.
Thirty minutes later, a waiter ushers the ladies into a corner booth. They order cocktails: Grey Goose and Seven, Stoli and Red Bull and Earnhardt’s signature drink, Mandarin and Seven.
Over dinner, Earnhardt says she keeps her drinks pretty simple. Favorite shot? Soco Lime. Wine? Usually some kind of shiraz.
‘‘My mom's taught me a lot about wine,’’ she says, smiling. ‘‘She told me to never drink it out of the box.’’
Dinner conversation includes friends, guys and weekend plans.
Although Earnhardt says she doesn't have a boyfriend, her friends reveal she's close to Alex Van Camp, a former Acme Roadhouse bartender who appeared on Fox's reality series “Paradise Hotel” in 2003.
‘‘We tried dating, but it didn't work,’’ she sighs.
A few appetizers and two rounds of cocktails later, the ladies pound Red Headed Sluts (a red Jaeger shot) with two servers and pay their $130 tab, which they tip $50 on.
‘‘What time do you get off?’’ Earnhardt calls out to one of the servers.
‘‘Whenever you want me to,’’ he says.
10 p.m. - Axis/Radius
Earnhardt's tall, buff driver — who refuses to reveal his real name, preferring the nickname "Priest" — also acts as her bodyguard. He navigates down the street to the chic downtown Scottsdale dance club Axis/Radius while Earnhardt and friends sing along loudly to Ludacris and Method Man's “Rodeo,” which is blasting on the SUV's speakers.
Upon arrival, the ladies check in with a hostess, who escorts them upstairs to the quiet VIP room on the Axis side — Radius is closed for remodeling — and they order a round of Soco Lime shots.
Several additional friends arrive and greet Earnhardt along with her brother Derby, who looks part-surfer, part-rocker with his curly blond hair and relaxed black T-shirt and jeans.
Earnhardt is very protective of Derby.
‘‘When I see the girls that are with him for the wrong reasons, it drives me crazy,’’ she says, noting that she approves of her brother's current girlfriend.
An hour later, the shots are still flowing and most of Earnhardt's crew appear to be intoxicated. The siblings dance on the plush chairs, while Daisy begins to meow like a cat with her brother meowing right back.
‘‘When we drink, we replace a word with ‘meow,’ ’’ she explains, grinning.
11:30 p.m. - The Pussycat Lounge
Earnhardt and her posse — with the exception of Derby, who stays behind at Axis/Radius — head over to the Pussycat Lounge and greet the bouncer with hugs. The small club is packed with wall-to-wall people, which makes getting to the bar a challenge.
A DJ is spinning Joan Jett's “I Love Rock N’ Roll” as the crew slam tequila shots at the bar before meeting friends who have a reserved table in the club and a bottle of Grey Goose on ice.
After dancing for 20 minutes in the over-populated area, the girls decide to head back to Axis/Radius for another drink.
Midnight - Axis/Radius (again!)
The girls are definitely intoxicated by now and continue to dance up a storm with a few male friends. Earnhardt's friend Dunlop, a buxom brunette who resembles actress Shannon Elizabeth, is seen seductively dancing on the club's large TV screens. It's clear the party is upstairs with Earnhardt and her friends.
Axis/Radius manager Derek Steindorf checks on Earnhardt to see if she needs anything.
‘‘Daisy comes in here a lot,’’ he explains. ‘‘We love her.’’
And so do her girlfriends.
‘‘She's not like a celebrity or anything to us,’’ says Jamie Weise, 23, of Phoenix. ‘‘She's just Daisy! She's down-to-earth. She's so much fun. We love to be around this girl!’’
‘‘She's the most well-rounded, down-to-earth girl that I've met that is wealthy,’’ she says. ‘‘She doesn't care what anybody thinks of her. She just kind of does her own thing. . . . She's not a name-dropper, and her whole family is the same way. I think people know her name and expect her to be this Paris Hilton, but she's not. She's such a cool person, and people are always surprised by that when they meet her.’’
As a crowd of people look on, Earnhardt busts out a few robot-style dance moves as she grooves with her friends. She has a Cameron Diaz type of wacky energy that sucks people in.
Thirty minutes later, when the large group attempts to pay its $310 tab, they're informed their bill has been comped.
‘‘This happens sometimes when I'm hanging out with Derby,’’ Earnhardt explains, bashfully.
12:45 p.m. - Giligin's
The group discuss moving on to Suede, but a sweaty and tired Earnhardt takes one look at the crowded lounge across the street and says, ‘‘I'm sorry, guys. I can't go to Suede. It looks too packed.’’
Although a couple of friends protest, she soon persuades everyone to instead go to Giligin's, where the server from Pasta Brioni meets up with everyone.
‘‘I'd rather go to a dive bar than go out in Scottsdale,’’ Earnhardt says. ‘‘I'll take a dive over the Scottsdale scene anytime.’’
Her favorite such places include the Coach House and Rusty Spur Saloon in Scottsdale and Chandler's Iguana Mack's.
When she arrives at Giligin's, the laid-back downtown Scottsdale bar is fairly empty. Earnhardt and her friends stand out in their flashy attire.
Some of Earnhardt's friends begin to dance while Earnhardt chats up a few others at a nearby table. They all slam a couple of more drinks before closing time.
By 2 a.m., the bar is closing and almost everyone looks as if they're going to pass out. It's been a long night. Priest helps the remaining party crew back into the Excursion as the night comes to a close.
Total damage for the night?
Nearly $900, Earnhardt estimates, including the comped bill at Axis/Radius.
Partying with an Earnhardt? Priceless.