Dale Earnhardt’s Lucky Penny
Wessa Returning to Bristol
Wessa Miller dreamed of meeting Dale Earnhardt. The Make-A-Wish Foundation made her dreams come true.
That was on February 14, 1998, the day before Dale Earnhardt’s 20th Daytona 500. A race he had never won.
Wessa presented Dale with a lucky penny in hopes of bringing him his first victory in the Daytona 500.
On Saturday before the 500 Wessa, along with her Mom and Dad, Juanita and Booker, waited in an office in the Daytona International Speedway garage as Earnhardt and the other drivers completed the final practice.
Word came down that Earnhardt was not happy with his car during happy hour, and that made Juanita a little more nervous. This was, after all, The Intimidator. She was concerned that he would be abrupt and gruff – and that Wessa would be disappointed.
Juanita need not have worried.
Dale walked in and knelt beside Wessa’s wheelchair and gave her a huge smile. That wasn’t lost on Juanita. She had noticed how most people would stand above Wessa and look down at her. Not Dale Earnhardt.
Dale visited with Wessa for nearly fifteen minutes while Juanita and Booker looked on. He gave Wessa his undivided attention. Juanita could see the goodwill in Earnhardt’s heart as he talked to Wessa.
Earnhardt had the lucky penny attached to the dash of the No. 3 Chevrolet. It was still there when he took the checkered flag to win the race. Wessa’s penny had worked.
To show his gratitude Earnhardt invited Wessa and her family to be his guests at Bristol a few weeks later. That worked for Wessa. Bristol was only 120 miles from her home in Phyllis, Kentucky.Â Dale also bought Wessa and her family a van. The Miller’s still use that van to this day to drive Wessa to her doctor in Lexington, KY – 175 miles from their home in Phyllis.
Wessa Going Back to Bristol
Today Wessa is 16 years old – and she’s returning to Bristol on March 22 for the Food City 500 race thanks to efforts from The NASCAR Foundation, NASCAR Angels, Motor Racing Outreach and the Pennies for Wessa Fund.
An online auction is set up to benefit the MRO Benevolence Fund.
Pennies for Wessa was founded by NASCAR reporter David Poole to help Wessa and her family. You can learn more at penniesforwessa.org
Right now Earnhardt’s Daytona 500 winning car sits in the Richard Childress Racing Museum in Welcome, North Carolina. Wessa’s penny is still glued to the dash.
Please visit penniesforwessa.org to learn how you can help.