There are those pivotal conversations between a father and son that one always remembers. The conversations in which life lessons are discussed, dreams are evaluated and hopes and aspirations are shared with the one man you have grown up knowing that you can love and trust.
And then there are the conversations that never happen, because you simply run out of time … or you lose your father in the fourth turn of the Daytona 500.
That’s the story of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In a brand new interview, Dale Jr. reflected the time he had with his father before his dad’s untimely death back in 2001. But what might be surprising is the topic that rarely came up in conversation.
“We didn’t talk [about that],” Dale Jr. said in the “USA Today” interview when asked about his father’s often-tense encounters on the racetrack. “Me and my dad never talked racing. We just didn’t.” He added, “There wasn’t a lot of opportunity.”
Dale Jr. went on to say, “I was running Late Models for four years and I don’t think he ever saw me race Late Models during the ’90s. And then when we got in the Xfinity Series, I had two years of that and one year in Cup, and then he was gone. So, we had three years of just not really any conversation about driving or advice about it. He was more worried about me keeping my head on straight and keeping focused than how to get into the corner.
“Everything was happening so fast and we were having so much success I think he was just making sure that I wasn’t going to be careless or be an idiot outside the car,” he continued. “We talked about that all the time; getting up on time and not sleeping until noon and being on time for appearances and all that stuff.”
Tricia Despres, Country Editor