Dale Earnhardt Jr., along with his sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller, issued a statement on social media that their grandmother, Martha Earnhardt, passed away on Christmas at the age of 91.
The matriarch of one of the most famous families in NASCAR, Martha Earnhardt was the mother of Dale Earnhardt, as well as his brothers Danny and Randy and sisters Cathy and Kaye.
Martha was a towering yet motherly figure in the sport nearly since its inception.
Her husband, Ralph, began racing in NASCAR shortly after the series was born, and was the 1956 NASCAR Sportsman Champion in what would later become the Xfinity Series.
And obviously their son Dale would go on to become one of the most legendary figures in NASCAR with his 7 Cup Series championships.
In fact, Martha holds the distinction of being the only woman to be the wife, mother and grandmother to a NASCAR series champion, with her grandson Dale’s two championships in the then-Busch Series.
Her role in the sport earned Martha respect and admiration throughout the garage and throughout the sport, and her poise was always evident despite the tremendous loss she was forced to deal with throughout her lifetime.
Martha’s husband Ralph passed away in 1973 from a heart attack at the age of 45. Her son Dale was tragically killed in 2001 in the Daytona 500, and Dale’s brother Randy passed away in 2013 after a battle with cancer. And most recently, Martha lost her last surviving son just a few weeks ago when her youngest son Danny Earnhardt passed away on December 10.
Even after Dale Sr. tragically passed away in 2001, Martha continued to follow the sport as her grandson was out on the track – and after Dale Jr. retired, she continued to pull for Kevin Harvick, the driver who took over her son’s ride after his death.
But Martha Earnhardt admitted in a 2014 interview that she hoped to never see a black #3 car on the track, revealing that she had mixed feelings when it was announced that Earnhardt’s number would be brought out of retirement for current Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon.
Martha Earnhardt is survived by her daughters Kaye and Cathy, as well as her grandchildren including Dale Jr., Kelley Earnhardt Miller, and Kerry Earnhardt.
Her death tragically comes on the birthday of her son, Randy, who was born on Christmas day in 1952.
And as Kelley said in her statement grieving their beloved “Mamaw,” the NASCAR world has truly lost a matriarch to multiple generations of race fans.