NASCAR Fans Blame Dale Earnhardt’s Widow Teresa After NC Theme Park Forced To Rename “Intimidator” Rollercoaster

The Intimidator roller coaster
Linda Davidson/Getty Images

Is Teresa Earnhardt back on her bullsh*t?

The widow of the legendary Dale Earnhardt certainly hasn’t done anything to endear herself to NASCAR fans since her husband’s death in the 2001 Daytona 500.

After Dale passed away, Teresa inherited Dale’s race team, Dale Earnhardt Inc., which fielded cars for Dale Earnhardt Jr. along with Michael Waltrip and Steve Park.

But things quickly went south for the DEI after Junior wanted an ownership stake to remain with the team, and eventually left his father’s race team to drive for Hendrick Motorsports when Teresa refused to give him ownership. And Teresa even said at one point that if Junior wanted to leave the team, they would just “make another Dale Jr.” (The race team closed up shop not long after Dale Jr. left, so that one didn’t age well).

When Junior moved to Hendrick, Teresa refused to let him take his iconic #8 with him, forcing him to switch to the #88 car for the remainder of his career. And when Junior retired and Budweiser released a tribute video for their former driver, fans were quick to point out that the #8 was missing from his car, and assumed that was because Teresa refused to let them use the images of the car in their tribute.

Then back in 2016, Dale’s son (and Teresa’s stepson) Kerry Earnhardt launched a line of homes called the “Earnhardt Collection,” which makes sense because, you know, that’s his last name. But the Wicked Witch of the South filed an appeal in court to attempt to stop Kerry from using the name “Earnhardt” in his brand.

Yeah, it’s pretty clear why NASCAR fans don’t really care for Teresa.

And recently, Carowinds amusement park in Charlotte, North Carolina announced that they were renaming their rollercoaster, previously called The Intimidator and featuring cars styled after Dale Earnhardt’s iconic black #3 car. According to the park, the licensing agreement with Dale Earnhardt Inc., the company owned by Teresa that manages Dale Earnhardt’s estate, ended in 2023 and the agreement was not renewed.

So it’s really no surprise that fans immediately began to suspect that Teresa had struck again, and refused to license the name back to the park:

Now, it’s not clear if the failure to renew the licensing agreement was because Teresa refused, or simply because the Carowinds and parent company Cedar Fair Entertainment thought it was time for a rebrand. But after announcing the coaster’s new name, Thunder Striker, it’s clear that fans aren’t happy about the change.

The coaster first opened in 2008, and Kerry Earnhardt was actually on hand for the announcement of The Intimidator, endorsing the ride on behalf of the Earnhardt family.

But the rollercoaster isn’t the only Earnhardt-themed attraction in the Carolinas to get a rebrand recently. In 2019, the minor league baseball team in Dale Earnhardt’s hometown, the Kannapolis Intimidators, changed their name to the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, citing their inability to market the team due to trademark rights held by Earnhardt’s estate (i.e. Teresa).

Now, I get wanting to protect the Earnhardt name and brand. But it doesn’t really seem to me that refusing to let anybody use it is really doing anything to further Earnhardt’s legacy. In fact, it seems to be erasing it, one piece at a time.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock