Dale Earnhardt was widely known, affectionately and sometimes not-so-affectionately, as The Intimidator.
For obvious reasons, including his extremely aggressive driving style and hard-nosed competitive nature, there really isn’t a better nickname for the NASCAR legend.
His son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., often talks about his dad and some of the things that they went through when he was growing up. And whilethey had a pretty complicated relationshipat times, Dale Jr. did learn quite a few lessons from his dad on what was right and wrong and what his dad would tolerate from him.
He sat down on an episode of the Bussin’ With The Boys podcast last summer to talk about his childhood, tell some great stories, and talk in detail about what he envisions for the future of racing.
The best story, though, was one from when Dale Jr. was over at a friends house and used some fowl language, thinking that they were the only two in the house at the time. If you think Dale Sr. was scary on the track, it sounds like he was even more terrifying as a dad:
“He was pretty tough. And his nickname at the race track was The Intimidator, and he was absolutely terrifying, you know, at home.
I mean, I remember, either I said the word ‘shit’ or I dropped an F-bomb at my buddy’s house, I thought it was just me and him.
He had this wicked little video game machine, like, before Nintendo and I was playing this little football game on it. And something happened, and I said ‘shit’ or F-bomb or something and his dad happened to be walkin’ in the front door.
He looked at me and he goes, ‘You need to get home’. And I was like ‘Yes sir.’ And so I went home.”
But, as it turns out, Dale Sr. and the dad of Dale Jr.’s friend were pretty close, so Sr. had already heard the entire story before he stepped foot in the house that evening:
“A couple hours later, dad comes pullin’ in and my buddy up the road, his dad and my dad were great friends, too.
Well, he had told dad what all had went down. Dad comes walkin’ in the bedroom already pullin’ the belt off.”
At this point, I would be freaking out.
If Dale Sr. is coming at me pissed as hell with a belt, I’m doing anything humanly possible to find an exit and haul ass out of there.
And that’s exactly what Dale Jr. did:
“And I’m lookin’ at the door and they way the room’s laid out, there’s a point to where, on his way to me, I can get to the door.
And I got to the door, and down the hall and out the front door, across the front yard, across the street, and into this hay field and over this erosion ditch and dove into the ditch and just laid there for six hours.”
SIX hours? He laid there for six whole hours trying to avoid punishment from his dad? I respect the commitment.
Of course, Dale Sr. being Dale Sr., he wasn’t going to give up that easy:
“I peaked over that ditch, and he’d come out the front door, and he’s lookin’ around, he goes back inside, and I’m like ‘Man, I ain’t gettin’ no whoopin’ today. Not happening. Not today.’
He was that kinda dad… I got a few whoopins, not many, but when that belt come off he was so upset.”
Eventually, Dale Jr. did go back to the house after all that time laying in the hay field near his house. He said that, after all that time had gone by, it managed to be enough for his dad to cool off and calm down.
“I remember the whoopins. There weren’t many, but the one’s I got, I remember ’em. And I know exactly what I did wrong. I never forget that stuff, right?
Imagine getting the belt from Dale Earnhardt. It was pretty damn tough.”
I don’t think I want to…
He managed to evade punishment this time, and instead, got a nice talking-to from his dad about how he needed to behave:
“We had a conversation about the word I used and how I need to behave. And that I better not make that mistake again.”
Dale Jr. said part of the reason he remembered that specific story so well was because he always felt guilty that he didn’t just accept his punishment:
“I don’t know why, but I hold some guilt for makin’ that escape, but I just had to do it. I don’t know why.
I feel, um, like I didn’t get what I deserved kinda thing. Like I skipped out on a deserved punishment, you know? I think that’s why I remember that story is because I feel like, you know, it is what it is.
I didn’t want it.”
And who could blame him for that?
It sounds like the last thing anyone on Earth would want…