Dale Jr. didn’t talk about racing with his dad

I wasn’t around when Dale Earnhardt Sr. was racing, so maybe his relationship with Dale Earnhardt Jr. was well-known and well-documented at the time. I don’t have a good feel for what was reported back then.

Most of what I know is from the question-and-answer sessions when Dale Jr. drops little nuggets about how things were. So when he discusses their relationship, my ears perk up every time.

Saturday was another example. Earnhardt was wrapping up his news conference at Pocono Raceway when Scott Walsh from the Scranton Times-Tribune asked about the driver’s memory of the 2000 race when Jeremy Mayfield did a bump-and-run on Dale Sr. to win.

Did Dale Jr. recall his dad saying anything about the incident in the aftermath?

“We didn’t talk (about it),” Dale Jr. said quickly, almost before the question was finished. “Me and my dad never talked racing. We just didn’t. I wouldn’t go up and ask him about that unless I wanted to upset him.

“Knowing my dad, it’s nothing I would have brought up in conversation on the rental car ride back to the airport.”

From an outsider’s perception, it seems like the Earnhardts would have been tighter than they really were — especially since both were involved in racing. But every time Dale Jr. is asked about advice or input from his father, there doesn’t seem to be much there.

“I was running Late Models for four years never seeing him,” Dale Jr. said of his developmental years. “I don’t think he ever saw me race Late Models in the mid-90s. Then we got in the Xfinity Series. I had two years of that and one year of Cup, and he was gone.”

And during those three years of NASCAR racing before his father’s death, Dale Jr. said, the two never really talked much about driving or advice relating to on-track performance.

“He was more worried about me keeping my head on straight, keeping focused, than how to get into the corner,” he said. “He was just making sure I wasn’t going to be an idiot outside the car. We talked about that all the time — getting up all time and not sleeping until noon and being on time for appearances and all that.”

I’ve known for awhile Earnhardt Jr. made it through the lower ranks on his own, with no financial help from his dad. But it’s sort of remarkable he ended up with a successful career without getting much of his dad’s on-track advice, either.

13 Replies to “Dale Jr. didn’t talk about racing with his dad”

  1. I actually look at this as a positive. Dale Sr. seemed to be most concerned with the kinds of things that sunk guys like Tim Richmond and Rob Moroso and knew Dale Jr. had the talent (and needed to figure it out on his own) to learn the on-track things.

  2. Kelly’s podcast that had his mother on gave some interesting information. Sr wasn’t necessarily the best family man.

  3. Well since you’re a rookie on Dale Earnhardt senior you want me to send you some books. For you can get you some knowledge Can’t believe we have a reporter that has no regulation of Dale Earnhardt seniors past

    1. He’s a reporter of current events, not a historian. I reapwct he acknowledges what he doesn’t know.

  4. I’m with you, Jeff. This is a very different perspective than most people have of what life was like for Dale Jr. His mom and sister were great supporters of his career and continue to be.

  5. Dale Sr was not the father of the year. And his relationship with Kerry is a good example. He did not grow up Kerry Earnhardt because Dale signed away his parental rights when Kerry was a baby. He was Kerry Key and saw nothing of his biological father. He took the Earnhardt name after he grew up. And basically showed up at his house one day. His dad welcomed him back but there was no relationship there. He sent Jr off to military school and Kelley went on her own to stay with Jr. Otherwise they had nannys and stayed at home most weekends.

  6. I always thought this exact thing. Dale Sr was respected for things he achieved on the track, but homewise he just could not have been there for any of them on a regular nightly like basis. Military School was chosen for the troublesome son, not wild, but not easily intimidated by the big bad Father. Siblings hung tough together (Kelly joining brother at the MilSch). I’m not calling a hero a bad Dad, but how could he parent when he was constantly at the track, rustling up sponsors, hunting (without kids), fishing (without kids), running a farm? Those men labeled “Man’s Man” hardly ever have a close bond with their children. I believe the Earnhardt children were given plenty of discipline, but not much affection. They have all survived well and become truly great adults and people…..so you can’t criticize “success”, but you can visualize the shortages……..

  7. Dumbest article and dumbest opinion I’ve ever heard Jeff Gluck. This guy’s name 100% carried him. Anyone who says otherwise is a delusional psychotic idiot.

    1. Burt… they make an ointment for your problem bubba. Sorry your daddy didn’t “carry you.”

  8. From all the interviews I’ve heard/read, both Dale Jr. and Kelley indicate the Sr. wasn’t the most outwardly loving dad, hard to please. That’s the reason Jr. wanted to race, so maybe….. his dad would give him some of the attention he so desired. And most likely the reason he caused trouble, if he couldn’t get it naturally he’d get it by being a brat. There are a lot of dads like that, mine was growing up.

  9. Junior wrote plenty of articles about Senior after his death. If you can find those it will give you an appreciation of the situation. He wasn’t there but Junior still admired his Dad in some ways and Regretted their relationship in other ways.

  10. Hi Jeff, Weeks ago, in a comment here on your site, I promised to send you an email. Here it is.

    At the time I thought my subject matter would be the on-going stuff in my life – surgery to remove my right kidney and a cancerous tumor there while also processing an application for a Re-financing our home to ensure financial security for our family.

    But, today after watching my favorite Haas F-1 team have a miserable weekend by the Danube,I’ve paused Jeff Bagwell’s acceptance speech in Cooperstown to warm up the keyboard.
    when I hit ‘Send’ I’ll resume the speech and finish the Hall programming. I’ll also be spending the balance of the year focused on MLB, not NASCAR. My ongoing mototorsports attention will be on F-1.

    MLB has gone through many changes over the years just like NASCAR, but those changes have been far more acceptable, in my mind, than what this generation of the France family has done the past few years.

    I’m especially happy about your success and that of your wife and glad that we had the occasional contact at BMS .. .glad I ”knew him when!

    From a supporter that turned 75 two days ago,

    Tom in Bristol

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