Dale Earnhardt Jr. put together an extensive professional racing career with NASCAR that featured many memorable moments. Among those early years, Earnhardt Jr. experienced some internal friction with his dad on the track. One of these instances led to pissing his dad off enough to throw his shoe at him.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. briefly competed in his dad’s shadow
In the first few years of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s NASCAR career, he competed in his father’s shadow.
Before his tragic crash in 2001, Earnhardt Sr. had become arguably the sports biggest name behind his tremendous success. It was during this brief time that the two Earnhardts had some memorable moments on the NASCAR track.
One of those instances still sticks in his mind that paints a great picture of his dad’s competitive spirit.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. pissed off his dad enough to get a shoe thrown at him
Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned the first chance to race his dad in his career in November 1998 at the NASCAR Thunder Special Motegi 500.
The exhibition race presented a prime opportunity for him to get the best of his father. Earnhardt Jr. took advantage of that by using an extra set of tires that his father didn’t want to use late in the event. Things took a troublesome turn from that point in the race, with about 10 laps left after a caution flag.
Earnhardt Jr. attempted to pass up his father on the track with the new set of tires installed. As the cars hit turn 4, he pushed the eldest Earnhardt high into the wall after his dad wouldn’t let him through. Following the race, things heated up between the two, with Dale Senior expressing his anger in a unique fashion.
“I went on thinking ‘I beat dad’ finishing sixth or something. This is awesome,” Earnhardt Jr. recalled during his Dale Jr. Download Podcast in December 2018. “We had one of those cubicles we changed clothes in and me and dad had one of those trailers. I’m changing my clothes and dad comes in and I saw the look on his face and knew he doesn’t want to talk.
“I kept changing while he was taking his shoes off and I bent over to tie my shoe and a freakin’ driving shoe went right over the top of my head. I am not looking at him so it would have hit my flat in the face. It was coming hard. It wasn’t no toss. I mean it smacked the wall behind me. I was thinking ‘Man he is pissed.”
Earnhardt Jr. slyly avoided more of his father’s fury after a media member asked him for a few minutes to do an interview. Over the rest of the trip, Earnhardt Sr. didn’t say anything to his son until after returning home to the United States.
It’s an experience that Earnhardt Jr. will forever be ingrained in his mind about his father.
First of several tense instances
The incident in Japan wouldn’t mark the last time that he pissed off his father while competing against each other in a race.
Earnhardt Jr. remained in his father’s shadow in the early years of his career, but he took much pride in racing against his dad. The thrill of competition pushed both Earnhardts to put their best foot forward against each other, which led to other situations where tempers were flared.
Although they were not the best of moments between them, they are memories that Earnhardt Jr. forever holds about his father on the track.