Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a third-generation racer in a family forever connected to American motorsports. His innate ability and intrinsic instincts behind the wheel have propelled him to 50 victories in NASCAR’s top two national touring series, but his common-sense charisma and down-to-earth disposition has catapulted his popularity well beyond the race track, resulting in a record 15 consecutive NASCAR Most Popular Driver awards.
Earnhardt Jr. won 26 NASCAR Cup races and is one of only 11 drivers to have multiple victories in the sport’s most prestigious race, the Daytona 500, winning in 2004 and 2014. As owner of JR Motorsports, Earnhardt Jr.’s NASCAR Xfinity Series team has won 44 races and series championships in 2014, 2017 and 2018.
A native of Kannapolis, North Carolina, Earnhardt Jr. announced in April that the 2017 season would be his last as a full-time Cup driver. A short time later NBC Universal announced that Earnhardt would join NBC Sports Group in 2018 as an analyst and influencer in its NASCAR coverage. During a season in which he was voted Best Rookie Analyst by Sports Illustrated for his NASCAR work, Earnhardt Jr. also attended the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics for NBC, bringing his unique style to sports other than the one in which he earned his fame.
In 2018, Earnhardt Jr. penned Racing to the Finish: My Story, with ESPN scribe Ryan McGee, detailing his battle with multiple concussions that affected his life, his livelihood and his future in the sport. By telling his story, he gave others the ability to see inside the struggles he faced and to hopefully gain strength to face their own. The book earned critical acclaim and hit the Best-Seller lists from the New York Times, USAToday and the Wall Street Journal.
Earnhardt continues to leverage extreme crossover appeal to garner media attention worldwide. He has a social media following of more than six million across his three primary platforms – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Earnhardt topped all NASCAR and IndyCar drivers on MVPindex’s 2018 social media power rankings.
In May 2016, ESPN ranked Earnhardt as the most famous auto racing driver in the world. He has appeared on more than 180 magazine covers and has been featured in high-profile publications such as Maxim, Rolling Stone, GQ, Men’s Journal, Sports Illustrated, People Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Men’s Fitness and TV Guide.
In 2009, Earnhardt appeared on country music’s biggest stage as a presenter at the 43rd annual Country Music Awards. The live telecast on ABC was watched by 35.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. It marked Earnhardt’s first appearance at a major pop-culture awards show since he was a presenter at the 2002 MTV Music Awards. He has been a guest on “60 Minutes,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “The Today Show,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Jimmy Kimmel Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Live with Regis and Kelly,” “Chelsea,” “The Soup,” “CBS This Morning” and “Larry King Live.” He has played cameo roles in major motion pictures “Talladega Nights” and “Cars” and was the subject of an episode of MTV’s “Diary” and VH1’s “Driven.” In 2004, he played a cameo role on the CBS sitcom “Yes Dear.” In 2010, he was featured in an episode of “Shaq Vs.” – ABC’s Fall primetime reality show in which NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal went one-on-one against America’s top athletes and entertainers in their respective professions. The same year he was the voice of Chase Crawford, one of the central characters in Disney Channel’s “Handy Manny” primetime special. In 2012, he was featured in “Good Morning America’s” Note to Self, and wrote a letter to his 16-year-old self about his relationship with his father, his racing career and building confidence within. In 2013, Earnhardt teamed up with Diet Mountain Dew and Discovery Channel’s “Fast ‘N Loud” to restore and customize a 1956 Chevy Nomad. The episode broke a series viewership record with 2.7 million viewers tuning into the cable network. In 2016, Earnhardt appeared in the season finale of Animal Planet’s “Treehouse Masters,” which delivered a season-high 1.3 million total viewers. After appearing previously in their YouTube videos, Earnhardt teamed up with Dude Perfect in the CMT series premiere of “The Dude Perfect Show,” which earned a total of 3.4 million viewers and ranked as CMT’s highest rated original debut ever with teens 12-17. Earnhardt also appeared in the premiere episode of DIRECTV’s “Religion of Sports” series, which examines unique examples where sports profoundly influence societies and cultures in a manner that extends far beyond merely entertainment value, from executive producers Tom Brady, Gotham Chopra and Michael Strahan. Earnhardt also spent time in the radio and television broadcast booths in 2016, calling several NASCAR XFINITY and Cup Series races for FOX Sports, NBC Sports and MRN Radio. During Super Bowl LI, FOX used its hit series “The Simpsons” to promote the 2017 Daytona 500 by featuring Earnhardt’s animated character behind the wheel with Homer Simpson riding shotgun.
Earnhardt’s eclectic taste in music is reflected in the diverse list of artists that have featured him in their music videos, including Jay-Z, Staind, Sheryl Crow, Three Doors Down, Trace Adkins, O.A.R., the Matthew Good Band and Nickelback. Earnhardt became a best-selling author in 2001 with “Driver 8,” a documentation of his rookie season in the NASCAR Cup Series. The book landed on the New York Times best-seller list for 17 weeks, and online retailer Amazon.com named “Driver 8” the top-selling sports book of the year.
In 2012, Forbes magazine ranked Earnhardt seventh overall on its list of “Most Influential Athletes.” In January 2013, BusinessWeek magazine named Earnhardt to its top 100 most influential people in sports. The Charlotte Observer listed him sixth among the top-25 most influential in NASCAR in 2014. In July 2014, Harris Poll rated Earnhardt tied for fifth in its “America’s Favorite Sports Star” rankings, and rated him tied for eighth in the category in September 2015, marking his 11th appearance in the top 10.
Earnhardt’s business sense extends beyond the track. In April 2008, Earnhardt extended his entrepreneurship into the Charlotte, North Carolina, entertainment scene, as he opened Whisky River, an uptown bar and nightclub located in the EpiCentre. In May 2015, Whisky River expanded to include a location at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. In 2018, Whisky River opened locations in the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and North Myrtle Beach with an additional location in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport scheduled to open in 2020. Earnhardt also spearheads his own multimedia content network, Dirty Mo Media, and owns automotive dealerships in Tallahassee, Florida.
Earnhardt is one of only a handful of athletes who has facilitated more than 200 “wishes” for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His philanthropic focus reached new heights in 2007 when he started The Dale Jr. Foundation, which raises money annually and contributes to more than 400 local and national non-profit organizations. One such beneficiary is Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Earnhardt became deeply involved with the hospital in 2014 through his partnership with Nationwide Insurance. Since then, the hospital has dedicated a children’s activity room to the Earnhardts, and in November 2017, Junior announced the creation of the Dale and Amy Earnhardt Fund to benefit Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Earnhardt married his fiancé, Amy Reimann, on New Year’s Eve, 2016. They live on his property affectionately known as Dirty Mo Acres just outside of Mooresville, North Carolina. It consists of a vintage Western-style town, a treehouse, a paintball course and five miles of ATV trails. Dale and Amy welcomed their first child, daughter Isla, on April 30, 2018.