NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Shares Photos from 1998 Watkins Glen

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Picture it: it’s the summer of 1998. Saving Private Ryan is the biggest movie in theaters. “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies is playing on repeat on the radio. NASCAR is at its peak, with the prize money for the Daytona 500 triple what it was the year prior.

It’s 1998 and Jeff Gordon is in the midst of a truly magical 13-win season. And Gordon and the rest of the NASCAR Cup Series drivers are preparing for The Bud at the Glen road course race at Watkins Glen International.

Though a then 24-year-old Dale Earnhardt Jr was about to race in his first NASCAR Cup Series contest, he wasn’t in the lineup for The Bud at the Glen. His father, Dale Earnhardt Sr, however, was not only in the race but would finish just shy of a top 10 position at 11th place.

To commemorate the special memory of that summer day on the race track in New York, Dale Earnhardt Jr posted a photo dump to his Instagram page, including 10 candid photos of both NASCAR drivers and fans.

For many of us, it’s hard to believe that 1998 was almost 25 years ago. But everything from the hairstyles to the stock cars to the quality of the photos is a nice (and somewhat painful) reminder that the 90s, and the boom period of NASCAR, are long gone.

NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr Once Had Drinks With George Strait

The 90s might be gone, but Dale Earnhardt Jr is still having one heck of a good time. A few years ago, the NASCAR star was on vacation with his wife and friends in Key West when he lost track of his wife – and then his phone died. He didn’t give up the wife-search right away. But after scanning the bars, restaurants, and shops of Key West with no luck, he ducked into Schooner Wharf, a dockside bar.

And who was sitting at a table inside? None other than country music legend George Strait and his son Bubba. A huge George Strait fan himself, Earnhardt couldn’t help but stare…just a little. Luckily for him, Strait not only didn’t take offense to it but invited the NASCAR driver and his friend to sit with him.

Dale Earnhardt Jr, of course, accepted the invitation without a moment’s hesitation. “I was like, ‘Of course, you’re dang right,'” Earnhardt recalled. “So we sit down with George, we took a picture, we talked, he told me about hunting with dad, and we had a beer.”

Earnhardt’s wife Amy is also a huge fan of George Strait, but she wasn’t quite as lucky as her husband. Though Bubba Strait allowed Dale to use his phone to send a picture of the group to his wife, by the time she got to Schooner Wharf, Strait and his son were gone. To this day, Amy Earnhardt (lovingly) criticizes Dale for meeting George Strait without her. And, honestly, can we blame her?