Like many other jobs, professional sports can be a family business. Take, for example, Dale Earnhardt Jr. His grandfather, Ralph, got the ball rolling in the early days of NACAR; then, Dale Earnhardt Sr. came along and became a motorsports legend.
While Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s children are still pretty young, you might not see them ever following in their father’s footsteps. When push comes to shove, their dad would rather not foot the bill.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps to become a NASCAR star
Growing up, Dale Earnhardt Jr. never planned on being a NASCAR star; he actually earned an automotive degree and took a job at his dad’s car dealership. His fate, however, was behind the wheel, not working under the hood.
Junior eventually started driving, though, and realized that racing helped him form a relationship with his father; before long, though, the younger Earnhardt’s talent became apparent. He joined the Busch Series in 1996 and, two years later, was ready for the Cup Series.
While concussions took their toll, Earnhardt Jr. still put together an impressive resume during his time on the NASCAR circuit. Despite failing to reach the same heights as his famous father, Junior still won 50 races across the Cup Series and what’s currently called the Xfinity Series and took home an incredible 15 NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver titles.
That popularity helped him build up a massive net worth
Usually, calling something a popularity contest raises some less-than-ideal connotations. In NASCAR, however, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has reaped some major financial rewards from his star status.
As anyone who’s ever watched a race can confirm, sponsorships are a major part of NASCAR. Luckily for Junior, his popularity literally paid off. “Earnhardt only finished in the top three of Nascar’s year-end standings once during his career, but his popularity with sponsors and fans helped him earn more than $400 million from salary, endorsements, and his share of race winnings and licensing,” Forbes explained in 2017.
Even though Earnhardt Jr.’s racing days are (mostly) behind him, cash flow shouldn’t be a problem anytime soon. Between his various ventures—including media work and co-owning JR Motorsport—and his on-track success, Junior’s net worth is pegged at roughly $300 million.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. would rather not spend his fortune on his children’s racing career
Thanks to his NASCAR success, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has plenty of money to provide for his wife and children. If he has his say, though, he’d rather not use that wealth to fund racing careers.
On a 2017 episode of the Dale Jr. Download podcast, Junior and his wife, Amy, were asked if they’d want their children to pursue a career in racing. Despite his on-track success, Earnhardt had second thoughts.
“It’d be hard for me,” the driver explained, according to For The Win. “I’ll just say this – I definitely will not push that on them at all. I’d rather them probably not be race car drivers.”
Despite his history with concussions, Earnhardt’s decision wasn’t based on safety concerns; instead, he knows just how much money it takes to fund a racing career. “It’s freaking expensive,” he added. “My dad paid a lot.”
At the end of the day, though, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is like any other dad; he just wants to see his kids succeed. Whether they wanted to race or went to college and found their way into the industry of their choice, he’d still be “super proud” of them.