Over the last few years, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has become an open book concerning his health issues during his NASCAR career. He has publicly discussed his struggles with concussion symptoms. Within that, Earnhardt Jr. revealed that he secretly took notes regarding his frightening health problems.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s long history of concussions
Dale Earnhardt Jr. experienced his fair share of success throughout his nearly two decades of racing in NASCAR.
Earnhardt Jr. also went through several scary incidents on the race track involving severe car crashes. Much of which he shook off early in his career without much concern for the long-term effects. There were several instances where things could have quickly headed in a tragic direction but didn’t, such as his 2004 wreck during a practice lap on California’s Sonoma Raceway.
The 46-year-old has voiced that he has experienced between 20-25 concussions, mostly went unreported to NASCAR. His fear of potentially negative outcomes from those situations kept them under wraps throughout much of his career.
His head injury history eventually caught up to him in 2016, which led him to take a private personal route.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. secretly stashed notes on his phone
Following years of dealing with head injuries privately, things exacerbated in 2016 as Dale Earnhardt Jr. dealt with various concussion-like symptoms.
Earnhardt Jr. voiced that his body’s response to those physical issues felt like he was drunk with the lack of balance, stomach issues, and his eyes bounced when he looked at things. During an interview on In Depth With Graham Bensinger in September 2018, the 46-year-old stated that he kept secret notes on his phone out of fear in case it worsened.
“I was writing that down out of fear of what was happening to me. I was scared. I was having these simple little crashes that were giving them these problems,” said Earnhardt Jr. “Why am I not able to deal with these crashes that these people around me can deal with? I used to be able to deal with, so let me write this down so that it’s there on paper.
“It was a way for me to draw a timeline for my improvement or progression through each incident. That way if it was helpful to my doctor at some point if he ever needed this information because I wasn’t going to remember it precisely.”
Earnhardt Jr.’s intentions with the notes were to capture his feelings in those exact moments and keep a time log of his health progression. He had no clear picture if his health would improve in any manner as he described his symptoms came on without any forewarning.
His health eventually improved after several months, but this time frame brought out absolute tremendous fear for his life.
NASCAR’s opportunity to improve health measures
Although Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s struggles with health were quite concerning, his decision to share his life story has brought much-needed insight.
Earnhardt Jr.’s experiences are one that many other drivers can relate to and connect to those similar experiences. The 46-year-old has voiced on numerous occasions that many of his colleagues are fearful of publicly acknowledging these personal health issues.
Earnhardt Jr. has used the spot as arguably the sports’ most prominent name to bring necessary attention to these issues. It’s a beacon for NASCAR to use to further improve their safety protocols and measures for years.