Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the son of arguably the greatest race car driver in motorsports history, Dale Earnhardt Sr. However, that didn’t give him special privileges growing up. In fact, Earnhardt Jr., who went on to have a successful racing career of his own, once revealed that he was actually pretty sheltered.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the son of a NASCAR legend
Growing up, Dale Earnhardt Jr. saw his dad dominate in NASCAR.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. is still tied for the most Cup Series championships with seven. His first title came in 1980, his second full-time season in the Cup Series. He then won his second title in 1986 before winning his third championship that next year in 1987.
Earnhardt Sr. then went a couple of years without a title but won his fourth in 1990 before winning another second consecutive championship in 1991. He then ultimately won his sixth and seventh titles consecutively again in 1993 and 1994.
Because of his dad’s success, Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent a lot of time around race cars growing up.
“Everything in life was all about getting to the race track,” he said to Sports Illustrated in 2007. “My daddy left early in the morning to get to the race shop, and I couldn’t wait for summer vacation so I could go with him. … Everything was about getting next to a race car. Because when you’re little, standing next to race cars is really kicka**. As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s true.”
Despite seemingly living a pretty cool childhood, though, Earnhardt Jr. was actually pretty sheltered growing up.
He revealed that he was pretty ‘sheltered’
In that same 2007 conversation with Sports Illustrated, Earnhardt Jr. revealed that he didn’t have a big group of friends while he was in high school.
“I never really had a group of friends that I hung out with,” he said, according to Sports Illustrated. “I had three or four buddies that I saw every day in high school, and we hung out a little bit afterward, but for the most part I went home. You see, I was kind of sheltered. My daddy didn’t let me go out much. I couldn’t go out with my buddies to the mall. I couldn’t skip school. My dad wouldn’t put up with that crap. So I graduated from college and got a job and met a couple friends, and we all have been buddies since.”
However, as he became an adult, his social life was still pretty “sporadic.”
“My friends think that I disappear for months at a time,” he said, according to Sports Illustrated. “They just think I’m punking out on my couch at home. But I’m really busy. I can’t go and do things with them at certain periods of the year. There will be two months when I hang out with my friends all the time, and they’re like, ‘Hell, yeah, this is awesome.’ Then I disappear for two months, and they’re like, ‘What the f***?’ That’s the worst part about being me.”
The sacrifices that Dale Earnhardt Jr. made as he grew up and in adulthood, though, ultimately paid off.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. also found success driving a race car
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ultimately had a NASCAR career that saw him win 26 Cup Series races, including two at the Daytona 500, per his NASCAR Hall of Fame bio. He also won two consecutive Xfinity Series titles and ended up winning the Most Popular Driver award 15 times.
His success in a race car led to Dale Earnhardt Jr. becoming a part of the NASCAR Hall of Fame 2021 class. He has since become an analyst on NBC, too.
So while Dale Earnhardt Jr. may have been sheltered growing up, it all ultimately paid off for him in the end.