Dale Earnhardt Jr. holds an unwavering passion for racing that he fostered during his childhood. It helped push him to construct a respectable NASCAR career that spanned over two decades and earned him a Hall of Fame induction. However, Earnhardt‘s path toward getting behind the wheel became haunted by one word from his dad.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s relationship with his dad
Over the years, Dale Jr. has become an open book regarding his personal life and his relationship with his dad.
Earnhardt hasn’t shied away from revealing details and various stories from his childhood that paint the picture of an often distant connection. The bond didn’t truly take off until he got behind the wheel, creating moments he forever cherishes.
Before reaching that point, Earnhardt’s childhood became annoyingly filled with one word from his father.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s childhood was haunted by 1 word from his father
Throughout much of Dale Jr.’s childhood, he experienced difficulty developing a strong relationship with his father.
He struggled to garner his dad’s respect and attention due to his lack of motivation to give his life direction. However, Earnhardt fostered a firm internal push to develop a stronger bond with his father.
During a recent appearance on the Bussin’ It With the Boys podcast, the 46-year-old revealed that his father used to antagonize him with one word throughout his teenage years.
“He would always say you need to show some initiative,” Earnhardt said. “He used ‘initiative’ all the time. That was the word. ‘You need to be determined. Show some initiative. You show no initiative.’ I was like, ‘What does that mean? How do I show you initiative? What does that even mean to you?’ Then he was like, ‘When I was your age, I was in the shop sweeping the floor and cleaning the tools up and putting them back in the toolbox.’
“I was thinking, ‘Damn, that sucks. That sounds sucky. That doesn’t sound fun. That’s a long ways from driving. Driving is up here and sweeping the floor is way down here. What are all the things that have to happen before I finally get to drive?’ It just seem like it was so far away. He was less than impressed by my initiative and my passion for it. I wasn’t outwardly expressing that to him and he wasn’t thinking I was really even into it.”
Earnhardt Jr. added Dale Sr. made him feel like it was too daunting of a task to ever become a professional race car driver. Despite that, it didn’t diminish his desire to compete behind the wheel.
Nonetheless, it’s another example of the tough-love relationship with his father during his childhood.
Carved out his NASCAR legacy
Earnhardt‘s childhood experience with his father pushed him to pursue his dream even harder.
It helped him earn the opportunity to become a NASCAR driver, where he held a 20-plus-year career. Dale Jr. didn’t get anywhere near matching his dad’s success, but he carved out his lane.
Earnhardt Jr. won a pair of Xfinity Series championships, leading to a 19-year career as a full-time Cup Series driver. He won 26 races, including the Daytona 500 twice, while placing in the top 10 in the points standings seven times with four top-five finishes.
His sustained success helped him receive the honor of being part of the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame class. Beyond that, Earnhardt’s passion for the sport pushed him to earn his place in NASCAR history.