I’ve always been a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr., even though I only started getting into NASCAR this year.
He’s just a likeable guy that’s engaging, entertaining and pretty open about a lot of areas of his life, both on and off the track. And he’s especially candid when it comes to the complicated relationship he had with his father.
Dale Jr. stopped by fellow driver Danica Patrick’s Pretty Intensepodcast last week, and while they talked a bunch of topics across the spectrum, they inevitably dove into growing up with NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. as a father.
Danica called it one of the “most open hearted honest interviews” she has done:
“This was truly one of the most open hearted honest interviews I have done. Dale Jr. told so many great stories about his personality, his goals, who his dad was, and what makes him happy. The funny thing that happens when you work with (and for) someone as I did with Dale, is you don’t get this deep. You just deal with the current day to day issues or topics. So, this was really fun and interesting! So glad we did this Dale.”
He also shared a story regarding a touching article he wrote about his father for the racing magazine Winston Cup Scene. It was a heartfelt essay detailing how he felt about his father, but he had to check it over with Dale Sr. first:
“So I asked him if I could see him for a second. He’s up in his office at DEI. I go up there with that piece of paper, and I said, ‘Hey, I got this thing I wrote, and it’s about you. I want to put it in the Winston Cup Scene in a couple weeks, and I just need to make sure you’re ok with it.’
He takes it, and he reads it, and he stands up, and he starts walking around reading it… and he says, ‘You know, we never tell each other how we feel about each other, but in reading this, I know exactly how you feel.’
And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ I was like, ‘Man, that’s exactly how I feel about you, and I didn’t know you didn’t know that, you know, that I thought you were this great, amazing thing. And he was like, ‘I’m so glad you did this. I’m so glad you shared this with me.’ He doesn’t talk this way.”
And at that point, Danica admitted that she was choking up at Dale’s story which he later called the “most important moment” in his life with his dad.
“I think had that not happened, had I not had that written… that moment is the most important moment in my life with my dad, without a doubt. We had won races together and stood in Victory Lane together, but to know that he knew how I felt about him is really important because knowing that he would pass away many months later.”