To tribute what would’ve been Dale Earnhardt Sr. ‘s 70th birthday, his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., wished him a happy birthday online. On his personal Twitter account, the 46-year-old published a tweet writing, “Happy birthday to the biggest badass that ever drove a racecar,” along with a goat emoji to symbolize his greatest of all-time status.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. died much too soon at age 49 on Feb. 18, 2001, in a last-lap collision at the Daytona 500. Throughout his career, the legendary NASCAR driver won 76 Winston Cup races and was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010.
Yet, nobody misses Dale Sr. more than Junior. With each year that passes, the North Carolina native continues to open up about his relationship with his dad, offering insight into their lives together on and off the track.
During a 2018 interview, Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed valuable insight into his relationship with his dad. During the Joe Rogan podcast, he recalled that times were bad before they were good. In addition, he added that it took some time before he didn’t see himself as a disappointment in his dad’s eyes.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Opens Up About Relationship With Late Dad
Things may have been rocky when Junior was a teenager, but as he began his professional driving career, that’s when the dynamic shifted. According to Dale Earnhardt Jr., that’s when they got closer and became best friends.
“They made the decision to put me in this car in the Xfinity Series,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. began. “You’d think that dad would come tell me, or we would have a press conference – might be a press release, at least. This is a month before the race season starts. I think I’m out of racing, right? I ain’t even talked to anybody about what I’m racing or if I’m racing in a couple months.”
As Dale Earnhardt Jr. described, he won several races during his first two years of racing. “He put me in this car on a whim and a prayer, and we ended up winning a championship. Two in a row.” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said of the chance his father gave him.
“And that’s when our relationship completely changed. That’s when [he] had his arm around me, we had sponsor deals and promotions together. We were doing photoshoots together. I saw him all the time, and we talked about all kinds of [things]. We talked about life, girls, everything but racing. We didn’t talk about racing much, which is fine.
And it was awesome. So ’98, ’99, and then 2000 I went to Cup. He built a Cup team around me…. And then he got killed in 2001 at the start of the season in the Daytona 500. So those three years – ’98, ’99, ’00 – were as good as it could get,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. added.