duel promises to be hot
June 08, 1999 by Peter Carvelli, Racing Press
Father's Day is right around the corner, and while children across America celebrate the
gift of their dads, stock car racing is witness to one of the most interesting sports
rivalries in history. In last week's running of the Coca-Cola 600, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.,
had an opportunity few sons enjoy: competing against his dad, racing legend Dale
The two first faced off in Japan last year when the race meant little except for being a
preview to what was to come and an opportunity to sell little metal cars. While
"Little E" competes full-time in the Busch Grand National Series this season,
the Coca-Cola 600 was his first try at a Winston Cup points race, one of five he will run
this year. Next year, he will run for the Rookie of the Year title and the already
deafening hype will reach titanic proportions.
The great part of this story is that it is only the first chapter. Already, Dale Junior
has a huge fan base, partly due to his Busch series championship last year, and partly due
to his famous namesake. When Junior takes to the Winston Cup series full time, he will
redefine the concept of race driver marketing. I know for a fact that the marketing of
"Little E" will rival and possibly exceed that of Jeff Gordon.
When he makes the step to Cup in 2000, much will be made of the rivalry between Junior and
Matt Kenseth or Tony Stewart, but the real story will be when he goes door-to-door with
the Intimidator. (What a nickname for your dad, eh?)
True, it has happened before in motorsports and other sports. Bobby and Davey Allison
raced together and thrilled fans on more than one occasion, Richard and Kyle Petty raced,
and you can bet it won't be long before Kyle and his son, Adam, go nose to tail. But my
sense is that the Earnhardt family duels on the NASCAR ovals will somehow be more intense.
Yes, the Allisons finished 1-2 in the 1988 Daytona 500 in what is one of the greatest
finishes of that famed race, but I think the Earnhardts racing each other will be
something extra. Dale Senior is in the process of negotiating with sponsor GM Goodwrench
for a contract extension and has no plans to retire despite rumors that 2000 would be his
last season. He has already won once this year and is firmly planted in the top 10 as
Dale Junior has a reported 10-year commitment from Budweiser to drive for his father's
race team, Dale Earnhardt Inc. Already, despite having their colors on the No. 25 Hendrick
Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Wally Dallenbach, Dale Junior is getting front-line
exposure. In a recent full-page advertisement in Winston Cup Scene Magazine, Earnhardt's
No. 8 is shown in front of and much larger than the No. 25. Bud's contract with Hendrick
ends after this season.
As a new father about to celebrate my fairly new relationship with my 10-month-old son, I,
like many of you, know of nothing I wouldn't do for him. Including laying off the gas at
the line, letting him take the win and the glory. Of course, as a son, there is nothing I
wouldn't do for my dad, including the same at-the-line lift off.
This would present a problem if I was racing, or would it? If I was racing my son, Jacob,
and we were side-by-side on the front stretch heading for the checkered flag, would I let
off to allow him the victory or would he let the old man get the glory? Tough question,
simple answer: Neither. We would both keep our legs in it until the end and may the best
man win. (Of course, if he won, he would go to bed without dessert.)
And so it has been with the Allisons and will be with the Earnhardts. You can bet that if
Dale Senior has taught Dale Junior anything, it is the desire to win, a desire both men
have that will surely produce a lot of hype and hopefully produce some memorable moments
for fathers and their children everywhere.
Blk3GM's Dale Earnhardt Site was born on
July 26, 1998 and is owned and maintained by Gary Harris. This site is a
tribute to "NASCAR's Greatest Driver" and his up and coming son. We are
not affiliated with any official Team, Sponsors, Media Group or NASCAR. This site is
solely for entertainment purposes. Information and statistic's on this site have
been collected from various NASCAR related sites on the internet, from Winston Cup Scene,
Newspapers, Television and our personal experience at Winston Cup and Busch Grand National
races. All statistics are believed to be accurate at the time they are updated but
cannot be guaranteed.