NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. shares a moving throwback photo of himself and his late father and driving legend Dale Earnhardt.
In the photo, a young Earnhardt Jr. walked the track alongside his father. The old saying goes: like father, like son. And the younger Earnhardt has certainly subscribed to that model throughout his racing career. The throwback photo reminds photos where Earnhardt Jr. picked up his racing skills from.
For many, Dale Earnhardt was the greatest NASCAR driver of all time. He captured the attention of national audiences in a way that drivers have struggled to since. When he died back in 2001, his death sent shock waves through the driving community.
It forced NASCAR to crack down on safety and to take a closer look at their procedures and protocols. No driver has died during a race since Earnhardt, though crashes continue to be a mainstay in the sport.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. And His Father
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had started racing prior to his father’s death and was already successful in the industry. He picked up the sport from his old man as a way to get closer to his father. Earnhardt Jr. described their initial relationship as a bit distant.
“We just didn’t have a relationship. We didn’t do a lot of hanging out.” Earnhardt Jr. said in a Youtube video. Things were rocky between the two during Earnhardt Jr.’s early days. “ We didn’t communicate much unless he was telling me where to stand or where to be or what to fix or what to clean up. We didn’t go hunting together, he didn’t take me on trips. Like when he would go do things, I was never like an idea or a consideration.”
But things changed when Earnhardt Jr. became a driver himself. They found a common ground that strengthened their relationship as father and son. The senior Earnhardt became proud of his son and his accomplishments.
“The only reason I raced was to get closer to my dad,” Earnhardt Jr. continued. “That was the only way I would. Nothing I did would register with him … and finally, when I started racing and I won a couple of races, I noticed we would talk about it, and he’d come in the shop and want to know what happened. And so I got more and more into [it], like ‘hey I gotta, I want to do racing’ because it gets me closer to dad.”
And Earnhardt Jr. continues to make his father, in spirit, proud to this day.