What a husband.
They cover their old meats from 2008 (which has since been patched), how their parents affected their racing careers, and how they set out to help their kids have opportunities as parents now.
Kyle has a seven-year-old son, Brixton, who currently travels and races across the country in the minor leagues (plus a newborn, Lennox), and Dale Jr. has two daughters, 4-year-old Isla and one half-year-old Nicole.
Greg asked them about their experiences growing up racing as well, as they both had parents who play sports. Kyle’s father wasn’t a Cup Series driver like Dale Earnhardt Sr., but both learned early on that they would have to work hard if they were to get into the sport.
Greg mentioned that Dale Sr. could have done a lot for the son if he wanted to, since he was the king of sports at the time, but the son said that didn’t happen at all:
“So, he knew racing, and the way racing worked, at least the way it was at the time, was he took the slower car, and he learned how to make that car better.
And he wanted to make that car faster, and that was all he had that was in front of him.
Like in the ’70s when he was trying to get ahead, live it all, show initiative and work as hard as you need to get to the next level. He lived it, and knew what he needed to see from me, or Keri, and even Kelly.
He knew what he needed to see, whether we had the initiative or the motivation to do it. And there were times when I didn’t show it, or didn’t have, you know.”
And if the son did not make this effort, then surely his father would not do it for him:
And it didn’t help. He never showed any interest in becoming a race car driver. You know, there were days when I would walk and go, ‘I want to race! I want to be a race car driver!’
And he says, “Well, what are you doing to make that happen?” And I’m like, “What do you mean?” It’s like, “Well, you should have been in the garage scrubbers, I was scrubbing floors when I was your age.”
I’m like, WHow does that lead me to leadership? This doesn’t make sense, right? And it took me a while to figure it out, but he won’t lift a finger unless you’re willing to do the same, you know, and show some initiative.”
He also told the story of how he used to try to swap parts of his late-model cars for his own, along with his brother and sisters’ cars as well.
He said that his father would never let him do this, because the highest levels of racing used those that the son wanted to get rid of, and he needed to learn how to drive such a car:
“And it’s like, if you get to the Cup series, that’s what they’re competing for. You’re not going to run a coilover car just because it’s better, or faster, or it handles better, or it’s the hot ticket now.
If you get to the Cup car, or the Xfinity level, that big spring car with a trailing arm is what we’re racing for. So this is what you’ll drive to and learn how to use it and work. I was like, “Man, well, I’m getting beat!”
Maybe I wasn’t, maybe I could have taken that big plus-arm spring car and made it outrun the big spring car, but in my head, I’m thinking “Man, I tied my arms behind my back here trying to race this car.”
Of course, the son has spoken publicly several times about the way he and his late father work strained relationship Sometimes, especially when he was growing up and he couldn’t always see him because his dad was always racing.
But the son knows that his father, deep down, loved and cared for him very much, which is why he would not let him get away with anything:
“So he wasn’t just in love, he hit the road and figured it out, he had, like, a goal.
There was a way to make you feel like, oh, it does matter to him a little bit. He cares that we try to follow those steps.”
Regardless of whether or not you come from a family of professional athletes, I think many of us can relate to a son’s experiences with his father and how a father wanted his son to learn the value of hard work and pursuing what you do want.
I mean, I’ve got flashbacks to shed some tears trying to do second grade math because my military dad expected to excel and kept forcing me to redo it until I fixed… It builds character, though, right?
Of course, now I look back and am very grateful for that, but the transition can be difficult from time to time. And if your dad is an American icon like The Intimidator, well…more power to Jr.
Honestly, it’s refreshing to hear that Dale Sr was such a kind of parent (I didn’t expect much less), and this whole episode is really insightful.
I highly recommend checking out the whole thing, but this specific story starts around the 21:11 mark: