PHOTO: NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. Makes Pit Stop at Military Academy He Attended as a Kid

by Caitlin Berard

NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. was born and raised in Kannapolis, North Carolina. However, he spent several years in Oak Ridge, north of his childhood home. Though we now know him as NASCAR’s sweetheart, he wasn’t quite as well mannered as a child, forcing his parents to send him to Oak Ridge Military Academy.

It was no doubt a tough time for 12-year-old Dale Jr, but he now looks back on his time in Oak Ridge with fondness. And because the Martinsville Speedway is just 45 minutes away from his old stomping grounds, Earnhardt couldn’t resist stopping by for a visit.

Dale Jr then posted a couple of pictures of the school to his Instagram page, along with a heartfelt caption. “Hard not to stop by Oak Ridge Military Academy during a Martinsville Speedway race weekend,” Earnhardt wrote. “Spent a couple years there as a kid.”

“Crazy to think now as a parent what sending your 12 year old away to a school must feel like,” the NASCAR icon continued. “I do think it had a positive intended effect on me. I also love the general history of locations like this. A lot of original structures and cool hidden gems.”

NASCAR Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr Celebrates Race at Martinsville With a Few Beers

This weekend’s NASCAR event in the Martinsville Speedway was special to Dale Earnhardt Jr for a variety of reasons. Along with the opportunity to visit his old school, Dale Jr competed in his favorite type of track and cinched an 11th place finish after a tough race.

Ahead of the contest, Dale Jr said that if finished the race, he would stay in pit road for a while and share a beer with anyone who wanted one. And true to his word, Earnhardt stayed behind chatting, drinking beers, and signing autographs for hours after the race.

For many of his fellow NASCAR drivers, the opportunity to have a beer with Dale Earnhardt Jr was nothing short of a dream come true. As many of them are half his age, they grew up watching Dale on the race track. Having the opportunity to not only compete against a childhood hero but celebrate with him afterward as well is a memory they’ll cherish forever.

Anthony Alfredo, 23-year-old Cup Series driver posted about the experience on Twitter. He wrote, “Bucket list item No. 88: Have a beer with Dale Jr after racing at Martinsville Speedway. Check.” And he was just one of the many drivers to leap at the chance to hang out with the beloved NASCAR veteran.