Dale Earnhardt Jr. made the tough decision to step into retirement from his NASCAR racing career after the 2017 season. Before his final race, Budweiser ran a touching commercial honoring his time behind the wheel. However, it came with a glaringly obvious dark side to the situation.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. steps into NASCAR retirement
Before the 2017 season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. declared that year would be his last as a NASCAR driver.
His decision came after he dealt with severe concussion-like symptoms that forced him to miss much of the 2016 campaign. He went through his final year producing many memorable moments and receiving gifts from those involved in the sport.
Earnhardt Jr. received a personalized jukebox from the Kentucky Speedway, a revolutionary war musket from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and the No. 2 Chevrolet Monte Carlo his dad drove in his rookie year.
Among those congratulating him was his longtime sponsor, Budweiser. The company aired a heartfelt commercial honoring his NASCAR career. However, it also underlined a troubling matter that continues to linger over the Earnhardt family.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. couldn’t escape a troubling family conflict in Budweiser’s tribute commercial in his final race
Before Earnhardt Jr. took the track for the final time in the 2017 season, Budweiser aired a touching commercial honoring his NASCAR career.
The ad ventured through many of the memorable moments from his time behind the wheel. It ranged from celebrating his first career Cup Series win alongside his father to earning his first victory at Daytona following his dad’s death.
However, the visual of the No. 8 on the side of his Budweiser car was notably absent. The number was also blurred out in the video highlights used within the commercial.
There was also no recognition of Dale Earnhardt Inc. Budweiser intentionally chose to avoid using either of those visuals as they are trademarks owned by his stepmother, Teresa Earnhardt.
Following Dale Sr.’s death, Teresa took over ownership of Dale Earnhardt Inc. The situation created plenty of internal conflict with Dale Jr., leading him to depart from the company in 2008 to join Hendrick Motorsports.
Teresa denied Dale Jr.’s attempt to gain controlling ownership of the company (51%), and he felt Dale Earnhardt Inc. had been declining over the previous few years. Meanwhile, she questioned his commitment toward turning DEI into a company that contends for championships.
Budweiser may not have used the DEI logo or No. 8 in the commercial, but that didn’t prevent it from evoking incredible emotion. The omission was simply another disappointing reality in Earnhardt Jr.’s life.
Legal battles over trademarks remain
The legal proceedings involving Teresa Earnhardt don’t stop there.
Dale Jr.’s older brother, Kerry Earnhardt, became involved in a lengthy legal battle with Teresa over the use of their last name. In 2011, Kerry created “Earnhardt Collections” for their Schumaker Homes business.
It didn’t take long for Teresa to file a lawsuit in 2012 that prevented her stepson from using his father’s name for his company. In February 2019, the trademark board ruled in her favor due to him not properly explaining whether collections refer to Kerry Earnhardt Inc.’s services.