Earnhardt Nation: The Full-Throttle Saga of NASCAR’s First Family
A vivid look into the lives of the first family of stock car racing, the Earnhardts and the rise of NASCAR. EARNHARDT NATON goes back more than sixty years to tell the stories of Ralph Earnhardt, son Dale and his son Dale Jr.
In the early days Ralph Earnhardt would spend his days hard at work at the cotton mill, his nights preparing his race car, and his weekends racing.
His son Dale and Grandson Dale Jr have become legends because of that work ethic and what went on inside that garage.
Earnhardt Nation is the story of the Earnhardt family and the Earnhardt Family business.
Earnhardt Nation isn’t just about Ralph, Dale and Junior, though, it’s about the entire Earnhardt clan. You get to know the Earnhardt family behind the scenes. From the beginning days of racing right up to the present day.
Jay Busbee brings us up close and personal to the Earnhardt’s.
It’s not just a sorry of the Earnhardt family though. Earnhardt Nation dives into the business side of the Earnhardt name and its selling power.
“Few people ever reach speeds of 200 mph, some families make a business out of it, and none has done it with more breathtaking abandon, writes Busbee.
The story begins with Ralph Earnhardt quitting his cotton mill job to make racing a full-time career. Creating a racing dynasty that is still charging ahead today.
About the author: Jay Busbee is a lead writer covering NASCAR for Yahoo Sports. He lives in Atlanta with his family.
Earnhardt Nation is available at Amazon
I never saw this one coming.
Tony Stewart is switching to Ford starting in 2017.
Stewart-Haas Racing has been a Chevrolet team since Stewart came on board in 2009.
SHR currently gets engines and chassis from Hendrick Motorsports. The team plans to begin building ot’s own cars and will get Ford Engines from Roush-Fenway Racing.
“Obviously, for 20 years I’ve been under the GM banner,” said Stewart. “I was very honest when I spoke to our employees this morning. I never would have dreamed that we were going to be having this conversation today.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say I’ve been on Twitter since 9 this morning reading what everybody’s been writing. I respect everybody’s views on it, but this was a decision that was made because of the passion that I see with Ford and their commitment to Stewart-Haas Racing in the future.”
The deal has been in the works for about 6 months according to Stewart,
Ford hasn’t won the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship since 2004 with driver Kurt Busch. And that is something the car maker is looking to change.
“We don’t race to race—we race to win, and we race to learn,” said Dave Pericak, the head of Ford’s racing division.
There were 11 Fords in Sunday’s Daytona 500. The highest finisher was Joey Logano in 6th.
“We’re excited about it, and we see this as a lot of growth for Stewart-Haas Racing, said Stewart.
What do you think about Stewart-Haas switching to Ford?
Tony Stewart’s fate rests in the hands of an Ontario County, New York Grand Jury who will decide whether Stewart should face charges in the death of fellow racer Kevin Ward, Jr.
The District Attorney handling the case reportedly has a 2nd video of the incident that he wants the grand jury to see. That video has not been released to the public.
Despite facing possible indictment Stewart will race in this week’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Many would expect nothing more of Stewart than for him to continue to do his job as driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet, and co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing.
But the Stewart haters don’t feel the same way. Read the comments on Twitter and you’ll find many who have already tried and convicted him.
The truth is that no one knows when the storm will be over for the three-time NASCAR champion. And no one knows how things will turn out.
One thing is for certain: there has been no shortage of opinions from so-called legal experts on social media, radio and TV. Some say there is no doubt that Stewart will stand trial, and most surely faces certain conviction. Others say the grand jury will find no fault and he will walk away a free man.
If indicted should Stewart continue to race? That is a question for the driver himself, as well as his sponsors, NASCAR and it’s fans. If you have an opinion on this I would like to hear it.
So far NASCAR and Stewart have handled the situation well. It is highly unusual for a NASCAR star to be experiencing any kind of run-in with the law. NASCAR is so unlike The NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball where criminal behavior and trouble with the law are commonplace.
I’d like to know where you stand on this. Please leave your thoughts in the comments.
Dale Earnhardt Jr’s fondness of eBay is starting to pay off. The online marketplace will sponsor Earnhardt in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Michigan International Speedway on June 14, 2014.
eBay literally changed the look of JR Motorsports. Now the garage entrance looks like a page from eBay.
Dale Jr is an avid eBay user. He collects back issues of Stock Car Racing Magazine and vintage NASCAR memorabilia and souvenirs.
Junior’s personal car collection is now featured on his eBay Garage profile.
eBay Garage lets users share photos and talk with each other. eBay is donating $1 for every fan who signs up for eBay Garage to the Dale Jr Foundation, up to $25,000.
Do you eBay? If so tell us what you like to buy in the comments.
Following his victory in Sunday night’s Daytona 500 Dale Earnhardt Jr. floated into the speedway’s media center around midnight grinning like a Cheshire cat. He shouted out a huge cry of joy that pretty much stopped all the quiet work of the reporters gathered there.
“Bet that doesn’t happen too much in here does it,” Earnhardt questioned.
On Wednesday’s conference call with members of the NASCAR media family Junior sincerely expressed how much he enjoyed the call. Quite a difference from many drivers who just view those calls as another media obligation.
You could feel the emotion in Earnhardt’s voice. Instantly you know why this man is NASCAR’s most popular driver year after year.
The Daytona 500 trophy is the biggest prize in motorsports. And when Dale Earnhardt Jr claimed it then it became that much bigger.
Not long after the race Dale Earnhardt Jr made good on a promise to Michael Waltrip by sending out his first tweet. The deal was that if Junior won the 500 he would join Twitter. Here’s what he had to say.
“I just started using my Twitter handle that I’ve had for several years. Haven’t had a chance to follow anybody yet,” Junior said.
At the time Earnhardt had 213,000 followers on the social media site despite having never made the first tweet. At last count he was up to 528,000.
Earnhardt was still bubbling with enthusiasm when he appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman Monday night.
A driver who is consistently finishing races in the top 5 is bound to win sooner or later. The same goes for Dale Jr who with his win Sunday has finished either first or second in 4 of the past 5 Daytona 500s.
When one reporter asked him about the intensity level of the Daytona 500 Dale Earnhardt Jr had this to say:
“I could feel it. It was electric, man. I don’t know what the hell was going on or why it was like that. I wish I knew because that’s what NASCAR wants to bottle and sell.
It felt so different than any other race I’d ever been in, any other Daytona 500 I’d been in for sure. The intensity level was at a max. Races usually have a lull in the middle, don’t get going till the end when it’s time to put money on the line, people start picking up the intensity. We sustained it from the time we started, restarted, all the way to the end. I couldn’t believe it.
I think people were enjoying themselves. I think everybody was having fun with each other, putting each other in difficult situations, bringing out the best in each other. There was really something special going on.
I know everybody thinks it’s the greatest race they ever saw because Dale Jr. won it. Taking that out of the equation, I think it really was an exciting race and one of the most exciting Daytona 500s I’ve ever been in and one of the most intense races I’ve ever been in.
The drivers were really feeding off each other out there. It was a really weird kind of deal. But it was fun. We were really having fun.
I cannot wait to watch it. I bet I watch it three times in a row back-to-back. I can’t wait.”
With the win Earnhardt became the championship points leader and is virtually a lock to be in the Chase. The pressure is off now. He can simply race to win.
It would not be a surprise to see Earnhardt run the table at this point. He has momentum and confidence on his side.
How would you rate this year’s Daytona 500, was it one of the greatest races you have seen?
It’s official. Austin Dillon will drive the No. 3 Chevrolet in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
This will mark the first time since 2001 that the No. 3 will be on the track in Sprint Cup competition. Dale Earnhardt last drove it in the 2001 Daytona 500 – his final race.
It was a hard decision for Richard Childress to make. And it has been a long time coming. But Childress says it is the right thing to do. He says fans have been asking when the No. 3 was coming back, and that now is the time.
But many feel that the No. 3 should be retired in honor of Dale Earnhardt. Never to be raced again.
For the record Dale Earnhardt Jr says he has no issue with the No. 3 returning. But he says he understands the importance of the number to Earnhardt fans.
No matter which side you come down on, there will be a little extra spark in the air when the flag waves for the 2014 Daytona 500 as the No. 3 comes down off of turn four to take the green.
How about you, which side are you on? Are you happy to see the No. 3 return, or would you like to see it retired?
Do you know that Dale is actually his middle name – and that Dale Earnhardt Jr’s first name is actually Ralph?
Ralph Lee Earnhardt was Junior’s grandfather and a true racer in his own right. Ralph Earnhardt began his racing career in 1949 after deciding that a lifetime working in North Carolina cotton mills was not for him.
Born in Kannapolis North Carolina in 1928, that is where he made the family home. Ralph and his wife Martha lived in a modest home at the corner of Coach and Sedan streets with their children Dale, Randy, Danny, Kaye and Cathy. And it was there in a small garage behind the house that he built race cars. Ralph made a living by racing and preparing race cars for other drivers and car owners.
Ralph Earnhardt’s cars were considered bullet-proof and race-ready. When he showed up at the track he was ready to race – while other drivers were fiddling with their engines and tuning their cars.
He won over 350 races in his career and was NASCAR’s Sportsman Division champion – what is now called the Nationwide Series in 1956.
Driving for legends Lee Petty and Cotton Owens, Ralph Earnhardt competed in the NASCAR Grand National series, now known as Sprint Cup from 1956 to 1964. Ned Jarrett described him as “absolutely the toughest race car driver I ever raced against.
Ralph Lee Earnhardt died on September 26, 1973 while preparing his car for the next race.
Do you have a Ralph Earnhardt story? Please share it in the comments.
NASCAR announced today that there will be 13 drivers in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Jeff Gordon has been added to the field of Chase contenders. The news came from the top of NASCAR with its CEO Brian France and President Mike Helton holding a press conference at Chicagoland Speedway this afternoon.
But the pair of NASCAR honchos seemed less than confident in the decision they were announcing. Like they weren’t totally sold on the idea themselves. And for good reason.
Gordon was added because he had been placed at a disadvantage during Saturday night’s Chase deciding race at Richmond, according to NASCAR.
Penske Racing made a deal with Front Row Motorsports, 2 Ford teams, in the closing laps to allow Joey Logano to pass David Gilliland. That pass put Logano ahead of Gordon for the final spot in the Chase.
NASCAR decided that was Chase manipulation, and good enough reason to add the unprecedented 13th spot.
Isn’t that the same thing the Michael Waltrip Racing crew was docked 50 points apiece for – Chase manipulation? Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr were each docked 50 points each after it was determined that Bowyer intentionally spun in the closing laps in order to help Truex’s Chase chances.
How is a deal for one driver to take a dive and allow another to pass any different? Both incidents were with the intention of manipulating the outcome of the Chase standings.
If NASCAR were to be consistent they would give the Logano team the same penalty that Truex and Bowyer received. 50 points. But NASCAR has never won an award for consistency.
Should Jeff Gordon continue running the way he has been he will be an “also ran” in the Chase. But if Gordon is the 2013 Sprint Cup Champion it will be a dark day for NASCAR.
What do you think?
On Wednesday NASCAR, the private company which runs the world’s most popular and largest stock racing series was brought into the bitter world of divorce. A court order prompted the release of more than 1500 documents form NASCAR CEO Brian France’s divorce case.
But what is not in the documents is even more interesting. Brian France does not own any part of NASCAR.
In his prenuptial agreement written before their marriage in October 2005, and his December 2007 separation agreement, he lists no ownership in NASCAR. Jim France and Lesa France Kennedy are the sole owners of the NASCAR. They are brother and granddaughter, respectively, of NASCAR founder “Big Bill” France.
This was confirmed in the April 2007 lawsuit between Kentucky Speedway and NASCAR. Therefore Brian, who is the nephew and brother of Jim and Lesa and, who has always refused to discuss ownership details, has no stake NASCAR. This is also backed up by the newly released documents.
NASCAR spokesman, Brett Jewkes, confirmed on Thursday that NASCAR is owned by the France family. However, neither NASCAR nor Brian France has any comment on the divorce case or the newly released documents.
However, even though he has no ownership of NASCAR, the documents show how massively wealthy Brian was in 2005 and 2007. According to the documents, Brian’s assets were $554 million with liabilities of $26 million. In 2004, his earnings as NASCAR chairman and CEO grossed $9.05 million. These assets include three California condos worth $4.4 million, a $10.6 million Central Park condo with an additional $780,000 maid condo, three Daytona condos worth $1.8 million, and a $950,000 home in Charlotte. Along with his property ownership, he also owned a yacht $5.2 million, three private planes worth $54.6 million and five cars worth $234,000. Along with this, he lists partial ownership of the Grand-Am sports-car series company, but it had insignificant value in 2007. He also has $120 million worth of stock in the France family owned International Speedway Corp, along with other investments worth $259 million. ISC owns 12 tracks hosting NASCAR Sprint Cup races.
In the divorce, his ex-wife Megan France gained ownership of a $2 million vacant lot, as well as a $3.2 million home in Charlotte.
The case documents were originally sealed, however, Charlotte-area media challenged the sealing, and has the details released. These details show that Brian didn’t pay $6 million of a $9 million payment to his ex-wife Megan. Along with this payment, Brian is paying $510,000 yearly for 10 years in alimony and childcare. The alimony and childcare payment are for their twin children, born in September 2006. Meanwhile, the $6 million, plus any interest is being held pending the outcome of the case.
Details on why Brian defaulted on this $6 million payment come from the documents, which come from a September 2008 lawsuit (the divorce was finalized prior to this). In this lawsuit, Brian states that Megan broke the original terms of the divorce, by not adhering to visitation rights, agreements on the employment of nannies, and confidentiality clauses.
However, Megan France counters saying that Brian was not involved enough in the life of their children, refusing to pay prep school fees for her daughter from a previous marriage.