In 1985, Dale Earnhardt Sr. joined about 20 fellow NASCAR drivers including Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker to record “Stock Car Racing’s Entertainers of the Year,” a double album that showcased the vocal talents of top NASCAR drivers.
The record was the brainchild of C & W promoter Mike Hopkins, Sports Illustrated reported. It followed a previous effort the decade before that never got off the ground.
Following Through on a NASCAR Album
“The mistake seemed to be having the drivers sing other people’s songs,” Hopkins told SI. “Richard Petty sang King of the Road, but good as he was, people were saying, ‘Heck, that ain’t no Roger Miller.'”
This time, Hopkins made sure the drivers would be singing original songs designed for them in particular. A professional Nashville producer ran the project. And they used top-of-the-line studio recording equipment and musicians.
To write the songs, Hopkins interviewed the drivers and taped their responses. He talked to them about what drove them, their hopes and dreams, their families and heroes. Then he sent the transcripts to the songwriters and asked them to write songs based on the drivers’ answers.
“Now some of these songwriters had never been to a stock car race,” Hopkins said. “But I told them, ‘Here are the words of an auto racer, what he believes, what he stands for. You go and write me a song from this material.’ The songs we got back were fantastic.”
Every driver then received a lyric sheet and a demo tape of his individual song along with instructions to practice it. Earnhardt sang the song “Hard Charger,” according to Discogs.com.
It was a difficult undertaking. Fortunately, they didn’t lose any of the drivers along the way.
“Nobody chickened out,” Hopkins said. “They attacked the project as if it was a racetrack.”
Watch Earnhardt Sr.’s performance here: