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Dale Earnhardt Sr. passed on his love of racing to his son, Dale Jr., who went on to write a pretty impressive story of his own on the track, which included earning a spot in the NASCAR Hall of Fame with his father. 

Just months after Junior retired from full-time racing following the 2017 season, he and his wife Amy moved on to the next chapter of their lives, starting a family with the birth of their daughter, Isla. During the latest Dale Jr. Download episode, he revealed the surprise purchase he recently made for Isla’s third birthday that upset his wife but made him happy because of its potential to extend the family legacy in racing well into the future.  

Dale Earnhardt Jr. got late start to racing career

Dale Earnhardt Jr. took a unique path to the top of NASCAR. Unlike so many others who start in karts on local tracks, Earnhardt, despite his name and father’s success, didn’t start racing until he was 17. 

After attending a high-performance driving school, Junior joined his father, competing in the Street Stock division at a track in Concord, North Carolina. Like his father, he displayed an inherent ability to make his way around the track faster than the competition.

For the next several years, Earnhardt honed his skills, racing different divisions at various tracks in the Carolinas. In 1996, Earnhardt made his debut on the Busch/Xfinity Series in a part-time ride. After a limited schedule racing the series for two seasons, Junior got his break, ironically enough, from his father, who offered him a full-time ride in 1998.

Retires from racing and starts new family

From 1998 to 2017, Earnhardt did what his father had done before him and successfully raced on the various NASCAR series. After the 2017 season, the two-time Daytona 500 winner called it quits from full-time racing. 

Since then, Earnhardt has raced once a year and has devoted his time and energy to his young family. He and his wife, Amy, welcomed their first child, Isla, in April 2018. The three were together in August 2019 when the private jet they were flying on crashed and caught fire at a Tennessee airport. No one was seriously injured.

In October 2020, the Earnhardts welcomed their second daughter, Nicole. 

Earnhardt buys go-kart for daughter and wife isn’t happy

In the latest episode of the Dale Jr. Download podcast, Earnhardt talked about Isla and the gifts he purchased for her third birthday. He bought her a dollhouse, a flute, and his personal favorite gift, an electric go-kart. 

Earnhardt said he and Amy had debated whether the girls would ever get into the sport in which he made his name. But after observing his daughter’s increased enthusiasm for racing, including an affinity for playing with his diecasts, he bought the kart without his wife’s knowledge.

“I basically bought that without telling Amy. She wasn’t happy. But I told her, we won’t put the decals on it. We won’t make it look like a racing kart. It’ll be just a kart,” he said, which understandably drew laughter from show co-host Mike Davis. Earnhardt said he has watched his friends and their 3-year-old kids routinely come over to his property and run laps around a little concrete oval he has, so he thought it was time for Isla to join the fun.

“We’re going to take it down to the race track and let her run some laps,” Earnhardt said before correcting himself. “It’s not a race track. It’s just a paved circle.” 

Earnhardt has officially stepped into the next chapter of parenting by living vicariously through his children. And if Isla has a racing career anything remotely like her father’s, it’s going to be a fun ride.

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