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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Jan. 21. He has selected certain special items that will be part of the induction ceremony and featured inside his display case at the Hall. 

Just a few months ago, during an episode of his podcast, he accidentally stumbled on what, to that point, had been a hard-to-find piece of memorabilia that he wanted to include. Now, months later and just days before the induction ceremony, the item takes on a different and significantly more emotional meaning following a recent family tragedy.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. reveals 2001 Pepsi 400 baseball helmet will be inside Hall of Fame display case

In the days leading up to his Hall of Fame induction, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is unveiling different items that will be included as part of his display case. The first piece revealed during a two-plus minute video posted on Twitter is the 2001 Pepsi 400 baseball helmet that he wore when he won the Daytona race in July, just months after his father tragically died on the same track.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful that it happened,” he said of that summer day in Florida. “I think about it often. I feel like it was a gift.” 

He talked about the helmet decorated like a baseball that he wore during the race and how he wanted to include that in his display case. However, there was one problem — he had no idea where it was.

“We happened to have a conversation about it. My Uncle Dan said, ‘I have the helmet,'” Earnhardt remembered. “He’s had the helmet all these years. 20 years this helmet’s been with him and I didn’t even know it. And so Danny agreed to let us have the helmet to put it in the case but he had one rule and that is when we’re done with this helmet, the helmet goes to Danny Jr., his son. That’s his helmet, and that’s what we’ll do.” 

Earnhardt accidentally discovers baseball helmet owner during podcast episode 

The conversation Dale Earnhardt Jr. is referring to occurred back in September 2021 when his Uncle Danny appeared as a guest on the Dale Jr. Download. It was an entertaining discussion with Danny revisiting stories of growing up with older brother Dale Sr. and talking about his own journey in the world of racing. At one point, show co-host Mike Davis asked Danny about items he had collected through the years. After identifying a hood from his brother’s car, Danny shocked everyone in the studio with a revelation. 

“Only thing racing much is what he give me. I got it,” Danny said, looking at his nephew. 

“What’d I give you?” Earnhardt questioned. 

“A helmet,” his uncle paused, now having everyone in the room’s attention. 

“From where? Do you know? What was the helmet of?” Davis rapidly fired off a line of questions. 

“The baseball car,” he replied, which resulted in a big outburst from those in the room. 

“Hey, he got the baseball car,” Junior said excitedly with a big smile. “There it is! He has it.” 

His uncle explained how Junior had given him the helmet out on the infield grass moments after winning the race and before he went to victory lane. Danny had given it to his son to keep until they left the track. He said it’s been sitting up on a gun case in his son’s room for years. 

Danny Earnhardt Sr. unexpectedly dies 

There was genuine excitement in the room that September day when Danny Sr. revealed that he possessed the baseball helmet. As Earnhardt said in the video on the items for his induction, his uncle agreed to loan him the helmet as long as it was returned to him, not his son, when the Hall finished using it for display. Danny admitted during the podcast that the helmet would end up in Danny Jr.’s possession “sooner or later.”  

Unfortunately, the Hall will be returning the baseball helmet to Danny Jr. when it’s finished using it. That’s because Danny Sr. died unexpectedly in December, just a couple of months after recording the episode. 

There’s no denying all of the items included for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Hall of Fame display case will be unique. But the baseball helmet, which already had special meaning because of the significance of the 2001 Pepsi 400 race, now has an even greater meaning and one that would have had no meaning at all had they not had that memorable conversation on his podcast just a few months ago.

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