Ronnie Dunn Recalls Being Terrified To Wake Dale Earnhardt Sr. Up From His Pre-Race Nap At The Coca-Cola 600 In 1992: “He’s Gonna Kill Us!”

Ronnie Dunn Dale Sr country music
Brooks & Dunn/Youtube

I mean, I don’t blame Ronnie Dunn for being terrified, either… they don’t call him The Intimidator for nothin’.

Back in 2020, Ronnie talked to Fox Sports about his relationship with the late, great Dale Earnhardt Sr., and how they became pretty good friends after Dale starred in Brooks & Dunn’s music video for their 90’s country heater “Honky Tonk Truth.”

Ronnie says he witnessed his first NASCAR race in 1992, when Dale Sr. won the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Being from Texas, Ronnie shared that racing wasn’t all that popular there back then, but he was “hooked” on the sport after seeing his first race live in-person:

“Pretty scary… he was the Intimidator in more ways than one. I saw my first NASCAR race in 1992, I came from Texas/Oklahoma, so it wasn’t crazy popular back then.

We didn’t’ have Texas Motor Speedway, it exploded kinda, after that. But the first race I was Dale and the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte.

He came from two laps down, I don’t know 38 laps left to go, and won the race. So that was my first exposure to NASCAR, and I was ruined from then on. We were hooked.”

And during the interview, Ronnie gave a little bit of insight into how he even worked up the courage to ask Dale to be in the music video before that race when they first met, saying it almost didn’t even happen.

They were hanging out in the drivers area before the race, and a crew member of Dale’s told Kix and Ronnie that Dale would love to meet them.

The only thing is, Ronnie knew how seriously Dale took his pre-race naps, and didn’t want to intrude on his privacy.

The crew member insisted, and though Ronnie was certain Dale was “gonna kill [them],” as it turns out, he couldn’t have been nicer, which is how Ronnie worked up the courage to even ask him about the music video:

“Yeah, well, maybe one that I can share with you… You mentioned the video that he was in, it was a big deal for Dale to take a nap and kinda clear his head before each race in his trailer.

I remember somebody on the crew, it’s kinda tense back there, a lot of people, and I didn’t want to intrude on Dale’s privacy. And they just said ‘No, no come back! He’s gonna be glad to see you.’ And I’m thinkin’, ‘No, he’s gonna kill us if we walk in there and wake him up from his pre-race nap.’

So sure enough we did, and he couldn’t have been nicer, it was great to visit. And by the time it was over, I had the courage to ask him if he would go to Vegas and be in the ‘Honky Tonk Truth’ video.”

Dale did have to be back for a charity event the next morning after they filmed the video, but told them it was no problem and he’d just sleep on the plane on the way back.

Ronnie says he ended up staying until the wee hours of the morning to film, and they actually bonded about their relationships with their respective fathers and how similar they were.

He added that it was a special time in that he got to see a really human side of Dale Sr., one that many people never got the privilege of experiencing, and they became “really good friends” as a result:

“He ended up staying til the wee hours of the night, couldn’t have been better. And ended up becoming real good friends with him.

I remember, he and I were on top of a big hydro lift in front of the Caesar’s sign lookin’ down at all the neon, and he says something about, ‘Man, if my dad saw me now…’ It was like that was a big deal to him.

I’m thinkin’, you’re Dale Earnhardt, are you kidding me? This is huge, so cool, just to kinda see the human side of him. We got to talking about our dads, my dad wanted to be a country singer, his dad was a race car driver.

These things we end up chasing in life, and he was out there fulfilling part of his dad’s dream and I’m doin’ what mine dreamed of doing too.”

How cool is that? To have been a fly on the wall (or the Las Vegas strip, I guess)…

The iconic trio filmed the video at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and it truly captures the three of them and all of their 9’0s glory. Hell, it might just be the greatest music video I’ve ever seen…

In what is truly a crime against humanity, though, the song only peaked at #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart that year. Shoulda been a #1 purely because of the music video (although that’s absolutely not how it works in any way, shape, or form and I digress).

Over time, they all became such good friends that Dale even named his $4 million yacht “Sunday Money” after the song they all wrote together, and Brooks & Dunn later recorded for the album The Dale Earnhardt Winston Cup Collection.

That specific record was done in conjunction with his 1993 NASCAR Cup Series Championship (his sixth title out of seven overall) and played at the awards banquet to honor him that year. Legend.

You can watch Ronnie tell the whole story here:

And of course, the glorious “Honky Tonk Truth” music video:

“Sunday Money,” which is nearly impossible to find anywhere in it’s entirety but is a whole song about the life of Dale Sr. and what a badass driver he was.

We need this on streaming platforms ASAP:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock