Recently, his longtime publicist and friend, Jade Gurss, joined the Dale Jr. Download to talk about the good old days and tell a few wild stories from back in the day.
They got into the time Jade talked Dale Jr. into appearing on MTV cribs, and even how he shot for Playboy and Rolling Stone magazine. All of those appearances and opportunities would ultimately put Dale Jr. at forefront of pop culture and bring national attention to racing as a sport back when he was a driver.
But, one of the funniest things they talked about was the time Jade convinced Dale Jr. to introduce Lincoln Park live on camera at the MTV Video Music Awards back in 2001.
Dale Jr. didn’t even want to do it originally, but after some time, he finally came around to the idea. He only agreed on one condition, though: he didn’t want to go to the show in what he calls a “Mooresville suit.”
He says he wasn’t going to attend that kind of show in something he “bought in Mooresville” (his hometown in North Carolina). I have to laugh, because if you know anything about Mooresville, that is hilarious and also completely understandable.
So, they recruited a New York City stylist to dress him, which he said made him feel better and more confident in the appearance. When he and Jade got to their seats in the auditorium for the show, though, all the nerves came flooding back:
“We were on the right side, not in the center, and we’re kinda like midway, right. And I’m like ‘Oh, man, I don’t know if this is good seats or not.’ And then, you were on my right, Jessica Simpson and her friend sit next to me.
And then on his right… was Mandy Moore and whoever she brought. And we’re sittin’ there, and obviously, I am terrified. I say not one word to Jessica Simpson, right. But, of course I would’ve talked her ear off if I had the chance. But I didn’t have the ability to do that.”
Jade, on the other hand, seemed to strike up an easy conversation with Mandy:
“Jade reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pack of Starbursts. Mandy Moore goes, ‘Oh, Starbursts, my favorite! I love the orange ones.’
And Jade’s like, ‘Oh, here, take one.’ So, I’m sittin’ here going, I don’t even know what to say to Jessica Simpson and he’s over here talkin’ Starbursts with Mandy Moore. I literally, was like, ‘Damn.'”
Well, according to Jade, there might’ve been one slight concern during the exchange…
“Here’s my thought. As I’m handing her this, cuz the guy who’d been our volunteer to help us said, ‘Oh, she’s 17.’
So, I’m thinkin’, ‘I’m an adult man in an Italian leather jacket feeding candy to a 17 year old girl.’
And I can’t look at Mandy Moore the same ever since.”
After the show started and time went on, Dale Jr. knew his turn had to be coming up soon.
An assistant had already come back to their seats to get Jessica for her turn, and Dale figured someone would come get him when it was his time to go on stage, too:
“Here comes somebody, and I’m like ‘Shit’. I’m scared all over again. I go backstage and I’m terrified. I had this thing I had to read into a prompter when I got on stage. And I was introducing Lincoln Park. And me and you [Jade] rewrote it because it was stupid. It was bad.
Right before I go on stage, there was a tribute to Lisa Lopes [from TLC]. And so Destiny’s Child is on stage as part of that tribute. And they walk me over to the side of the stage.
And it’s dark as hell, and there’s a bunch of grips and guys and gals workin’ the ropes and the stage, puttin’ it together and pullin’ it apart, and doing all that, they’re all on the sides.
I’m so scared, and I didn’t know where I was in the lineup and I’m like ‘Oh, man, I’m going up after this big moment where everybody in the crowd is sort of celebrating this woman’s life and uh, and her memory’.
So, it was this heavy moment, and now I’m gonna walk out there and go, ‘Alrighty guys! I like fast cars!’. And I’m like ‘Crap, I don’t know if this works, right. This feels like bad timing.'”
Right after that, Destiny’s Child came off the stage and Dale Jr. remembers standing near all of them, pretty starstruck and unable to speak again.
While he was waiting to walk onto the stage, a grip came up to him and asked him to sign his die-cast while Destiny’s Child is still standing there watching.
Apparently, all the people working behind-the-scenes were thrilled to see Jr. there at the show. And, it made him feel a hell of a lot better that someone knew who he was and cared enough to ask for an autograph while he was surrounded by megastars like Beyoncé.
Well, it made him feel better for a minute or two, at least:
“Him asking me that just kinda made all the nerves kinda fall away. And they put me in this cylinder, and so I’m standing in this cylinder that’s open.
With one side open, they’re gonna pivot me and turn me around and there I’ll be, exposed, you know, revealed to the crowd, right. And as soon as they turn and I look, and I see Sean Combs, Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, and I’m like ‘Aaaahhh!’… Scared, I’m nervous all over again.
I pooped my pants, but I step off this thing and I read into the prompter. And I basically say two lines and introduce Linkin Park. And then hauled ass off the stage as fast as I could.”
It’s well-worth your time to watch the whole video. If you need a good, hard laugh today, this is it: