If you aren’t into racing, leave now and spare yourself.
Unless you’ve been hiking in the Himalayas, you’ve heard that Dale Earnhardt Jr., the driver of the DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.as in his dad’s company) number 8 Budweiser Chevy, has opted to leave DEI at the end of the season. This is some of the biggest news in auto racing history.
The bottom line seems to be that he wanted 51% controlling ownership of his dad’s company. Of course, most folks feel that Dale Earnhardt senior wanted this but he died before the formal plans were laid out. Dale Jr.’s step mom obviously favors the control more than she desires her step son’s driving abilities and the legacy fulfillment that we crave.
Pundits are giving their opinions and most believe this was the right thing to do. I agree. This is not about the money. Dale Jr. has plenty yet still lives in a nice but modest home in NC. He could probably buy a small island yet opts to race karts and play xbox with his buddies.
He made the same business decision that most of us have faced. He chose to walk away from a "job" where he would constantly be second guessing his decision to stay. He opted to feel some short term pain and angst over leaving his "legacy" in favor of creating his own legacy. I think it was a great move. It’s the same move that entrepreneurs make when they turn down the 24 month massive comp package to go and do their own thing.
Where will he go race now? The NASCAR soap opera for men has many story lines to choose from. If he goes to Hendrick, he’ll be partners with Jeff Gordon. (gasp from the crowd east of the continental divide). Imagine the parties with Budweiser and Jeff Gordon Chardonnay. Would the Gordon hating fans convert?
If Jr. goes to the Richard Childress racing stable, will they bring back the black #3 car that Jr.’s dad drove? Imagine the constant comparisons between father and son…and the thrill of seeing that car on the track again!
My belief is that he should go to Childress for 2 years while he builds his own JR Motorsports team infrastructure, but drive his own car and not the #3. Childress would probably let him have the flexibility to accomplish this goal since he views Dale Jr. as a son anyway.
I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.
Like sands through the hourglass…so are the Days of Thunder.