Dale Earnhardt Jr. enjoyed a memorable motorsports career. During his NASCAR Hall of Fame induction speed in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Jan. 21, Earnhardt spoke of his two Daytona 500 wins. His 15 most popular driver awards. His 26 career checkered flags.
But that’s not all. Earnhardt included emotional aspects of his career evolution that didn’t involve constant left turns.
In a series of videos, Earnhardt describes why he selected three emotional non-driving items for his Hall of Fame trophy case.
NBC Sports analyst microphone flag
Earnhardt retired from premier series racing in 2017 and stepped right into a side gig as an analyst for NBC Sports. He serves as a reporter for select Cup and Xfinity Series races. He also hosts “Lost Speedways,” a Peacock Original show focusing on abandoned and legendary tracks.
Earnhardt has helped with NBC Sports’ coverage of Super Bowl 52, 2019 Kentucky Derby, and 2018 Winter Olympics.
“It’s been such a good thing for me, personally,” he said. “When I’m in the booth, and when I’m working, I win or lose. … It’s fun. It’s a rush.”
‘Dale Jr. Download’ podcast microphone
Earnhardt credits “The Dale Jr. Download,” a weekly NBCSN motorsports interview show, for allowing him to discover his journalistic voice.
To hard-core NASCAR/podcast fans, Earnhardt’s show, with co-host Mike Davis, has become a go-to destination. The podcast initially aired in 2013, but Earnhardt did not assume his regular host role until 2017. By the end of the year, NASCAR on NBC came calling, handing Dale Jr. air time.
“We just have a conversation, and people seem to really enjoy listening to us,” Earnhardt said. “… I think that the podcast has become much bigger and much more important to people than I ever imagined it would be.
“I’m pretty proud of it.”
2000 Rolling Stone magazine story
Earnhardt’s NASCAR initiation was challenging. In the late 1990s, Dale Earnhardt Sr. fans started salivating over having a mini-Intimidator rising through the ranks.
Except there wasn’t.
The son did not drive with reckless abandon like his father.
The son did not talk, dress or imitate his father.
At first, the younger Earnhardt heard the whispers (and shouts from the stands), but he also wanted to remain who he was and not change for marketing purposes.
“They wanted me to be The Intimidator,” he said in a video. “They wanted me to run over everybody with the front of my race car, and they wanted me to grow a mustache the size of Texas.
“And that wasn’t me.”
When Rolling Stone approached for an interview in 2000, the rookie jumped at the chance to publicly dispel any notions of who he really was at the time.
“So when I got a chance to go in Rolling Stone, I exaggerated who I was to make sure that people saw the real me, my personality, and there would be no questions,” he said. “This is what you’re gonna get.”
What the NASCAR fans got over the next 17 years, they appreciated.