And not only having him as your father, but also sharing his name and having all the pressure that comes with it?
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has opened up a lot about growing up in the shadow of the late, great Dale Earnhardt and having the Intimidator as a father. And besides the pressure from the rest of the world that comes from carrying on his name and legacy, it sounds like Earnhardt himself was as rough as a dad as he was on the track.
But on a recent episode of his podcast, The Dale Jr. Download, Dale and former Executive Vice President of Motorsports at DEI Ty Norris recalled one particular time when Dale Jr. finally stood up to his father in a moment that led to what Junior calls “the greatest conversation” he ever had with his dad.
“I Ain’t Been a Pimple On Your Ass”
It was back in 1997 when Dale Jr. was driving part time in the then-Busch Series, before he had even begun competing full time in NASCAR.
Junior was driving the #31 Wrangler car, and on this particular weekend he was attempting to qualify for the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Well before he even got to qualify for the race, Dale Jr. wrecked his car during practice. And he thought his career was over.
Junior went back home to hang out with some friends, drink some vodka and smoke some cigarettes.
But what he didn’t realize was that his team had loaded up his wrecked racecar and had brought it to the shop that was just across the street to fix it for the next race.
And then Dale Sr. showed up.
According to Junior:
“The door swings open, BAM! Slams against the washer and dryer.
Dad comes walking in, he looks over at my buddies and goes ‘Get your fuckin’ shoes on and get off my property.’
And they grabbed their shoes and took off out the front door and drive down the road.”
Senior tells his son that his guys are across the street fixing his car right now, to Junior’s surprise.
Junior and his dad then walk out onto the front porch, where Norris (who had ridden to Junior’s house with Dale Sr.) was waiting outside.
According to Norris, at first Dale Sr. had just come over to check on Junior after his wreck.
But when Earnhardt realized that Junior was just hanging out at his house drinking with his friends while his team was working on his racecar, Dale Sr. was PISSED.
“He starts yelling at him about getting his shit together, about getting his life together, figure out what you’re gonna do, I’m trying to do all this stuff for you…”
Everybody probably knows that feeling, getting a reality check from your parents when they don’t think you’re living up to your full potential.
But then Junior stood up to his dad:
“He goes ‘I ain’t been a pimple on your ass for the last 10 years and all of a sudden you’re gonna come over here and start telling me all this stuff all of a sudden like it meant something.'”
Well according to Norris, at that moment, Dale’s face changed. And Norris recognized the father-son moment that was taking place and walked away.
According to Junior, what took place then was the greatest conversation he ever had with his dad:
“It was the first conversation, like first real talk, we had. And he went from ‘You’re fucking up, you gotta get your ass in gear’ to explaining to me…
It was the first time he really let me understand, like, this is for you, man. This is happening, all this, this is for you.