Because one time, Dale Sr.’s son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., had an extremely unfortunate accident at a post-race celebration party.
The story also ended up being a testament to the early friendship between Dale Jr. and his fellow Hendrick Motorsports driver at the time Jimmie Johnson:
“The one story that sticks out to me is way early on in our friendship. We were at Ricky Hendrick’s house, and I think Jimmy had won the race that day.
So that evening, Ricky insisted that I come over and hang out, and they were all going to have a party.”
He obliged, and it sounds like everyone was having a hell of a time.
Eventually, after the drinks really started flowing, they decided to add detergent and soap to the hot tub and bubbles overflowed everywhere… I’m not sure who the heck thought the combination of alcohol and slippery soap was a good idea.
Naturally, Dale Jr., who was known to enjoy a party or two back in his heyday, wanted to immerse himself in the whole experience and literally jumped right in:
“I jumped into the swimming pool, and I hit my head on the bottom because I couldn’t see the bottom because of the suds in it.
And I’d split my forehead open. It’s about two o’clock in the morning, and I got this inch-and-a-half split my forehead. And I don’t know what I’m gonna do.”
Just the thought of that makes me cringe, so I can’t even imagine how painful it really was. Depending on how much he had actually drank at this point (and clearly I think we can gather that it was a decent amount), it probably didn’t hurt as bad as it should’ve.
Fortunately, Jimmie stepped up and offered to drive Jr. to the doctor in the middle of the night to get stitches.
Seeing as the entire point of the party was to celebrate Jimmie’s race win from earlier in the day, Jr. was in great hands with the best driver around:
“And Jimmie says, ‘Don’t worry, Hendrick has a doctor, and we’re going to call him and we’re going to be at his office.’ So I get in the car as a passenger, and he’s the driver.
And he drove me about a 15-minute trip over this office in the middle of the night and sat in the room while the guy sewed my forehead up, talking to me and just laughing and joking.”
All’s well that ends well, I guess.
At the time this happened, Jr. and Jimmie didn’t know each other all that well. It just goes to show what kind of man Jimmie is:
“That happened a long time ago. And just kind of showed me what kind of character Jimmie is, even though we were there to celebrate his day and his victory.
And everybody was there for Jimmie, and he was like, ‘Look, man, I got you. I’ll take care of this.’ And that’s just such a cool thing to do. And that’s who he is.
He’s just a really good guy, who happens to be very, very good at what he does.”
The two of them are still good friends to this day.
It’s just nice to hear stories like this and know that, no matter how much fame success someone can have in their life, stuff like this is what’s really important and what people will eventually remember when it’s all said and done.
There’s a reason Jimmie is tied (at seven) for the most NASCAR cup championships in history… he’s an even better person.
And, while we’re on the subject of the great Dale Jr., let’s check out some of the best moments from his career as a driver in NASCAR: