Dale Earnhardt: Exclusive
Interview By Ron Felix
June 23, 1999
Now picture this. You're in Dale Earnhardt's hauler lounge for an interview. He starts
taking his clothes off (to change out of his uniform to street clothes), and tells you to
go ahead with the questions. I guess it's really no different than other reporters in the
dressing rooms of baseball players or the football players lockers after a game, but it
just seemed like a strange setting for an interview.
I've admired this man for years. It's hard to get close to Dale Earnhardt as it is with
most drivers. They have so much demand on their time, that they don't have much time for
anything. So to be in this setting, seemed to be especially strange.
He offered me a seat and we sat down and talked about some things that I had questions
Dale, I heard you suggest yesterday that maybe NASCAR should abandon the three short
tracks in favor of going to bigger markets.
"NO!..I didn't say that."
That's what I understood, would you clarify that?
"What I mean is, our sport has grown so much and our sponsor base has grown so fast
and the money that they spend, they need and deserve to go to
markets that they can advertise and get their moneys worth out that their putting in. For
instance, my sponsors don't even show up in Martinsville and Bristol. They don't do any
promotions around those areas because the markets aren't big enough. Kansas City, or
Charlotte, or Chicago or Atlanta are the markets they want to go to, so that's what I
mean. I enjoy racing the short tracks like Martinsville and Bristol for many years and
will from now on."
What are your thoughts on eliminating the provisional rule and just qualifying the fastest
43 cars, as some people have been calling for lately?
"At the end of the day, that's what they have accomplished anyway. If you qualify 36
cars and put 43 cars in the race, you might as well qualify 43 to start with."
The new Monte Carlo has been approved now by NASCAR, will you first race it at Daytona in
"Yeah, it'll be then. We'll have a lot of time to test it and engineer and tune on
that car. I was happy to finally see them get the car approved. I think it is a year late.
At Richard Childress Racing and at Dale Earnhardt Inc., we got behind with not having the
'98 car prepared as well as we needed to because we were working on the new car, thinking
it would be approved sooner that it did. That put us behind."
Will all of the cars from here on out be the RAD cars?
"I've heard a lot of talk about RAD. That's not something that someone else hasn't
got. It's just a aerodynamic project that several teams have gotten together and are doing
some development work. Rousch racing is doing it, the
Hendricks team, all of them are doing it, so we had to do something or fall behind. A lot
of people are making a lot out of it. It's still good for us and would be even better for
us if we were the only ones doing it, but it's still no different that the other multi-car
teams are working on."
Do You think the championship is out of reach at this point? Do you still have hope for
"No, it's not out of reach. I've still have hope for it. We're seventh right now and
if we could just have some great races, and not make mistakes. That's the big thing. I
know of two races now when we wrecked at Atlanta and Rockingham. You throw those two out
and there are two more that we just didn't use our head in. I think we could have gotten
three, four or five more positions out of it. If we had just done the right thing. You
know we ran out of gas at California and that hurt us three or four positions. We should
have pitted at Dover and didn't. It was a joint effort that we didn't pit, it was nobody's
wrong call, it was just that we all made the wrong decision. We should have pitted and got
gas and we could have run to the end. We would have picked up more positions there. So
we've got to quit making those little mistakes like that. It's just some things like that,
that you've got to use your head to capitalize on your day. We need to use our head a
I talked to Ron Hornaday last year about his future plans and he said that he would like
to stay in the Craftsman Truck Series, What changed his mind?
"He's been running some Busch races, so when we got this opportunity to move him up
to the Busch Series, I ask Ron what he wanted to do. We were losing our AC/Delco
sponsorship and Ron wanted to stay with NAPA, wherever that took him.
Are you going to continue in the Craftsman Truck Series? What are your plans there?
"We're going to stay in the series, but haven't decided if we'll move our whole truck
team to the Busch Series or if we'll put together a whole new team. Either way, we'd need
a new team. We just haven't worked out the details yet of how we're going to do
How are you going to promote the Budweiser and Remington sponsorship on the #8 car that
your son is driving, to present it to look like a positive message instead of a "Guns
and Alcohol" kind of thing? Won't this send the wrong message in today's climate?
"One of the reasons I got involved with Remington two years ago, I did commercials
with Rick Mast and Remington, I got involved because I want to help educate people about
firearms and things like that. I'm concerned that a lot of people aren't knowledgeable
about the use of firearms. It's no different than anything else. People come at the
Tobacco companies because they make the cigarettes. And still, people smoke them. The
Tobacco didn't make them smoke them. They come at the firearms people now because they
make the guns and somebody goes out and kills somebody. What's going to stop them from
coming after the beer companies, the car companies, or what if it gets into, down the line
where sugar is bad for you. Are they going to sue the food industry? How far is all of
this going to go? That's why I got involved with Remington. Remington wanted to get
involved with the race team. We talked about it. I have questions sometimes about the
association with Dale Jr. and his Budweiser sponsorship, but it's there. Beer and alcohol
is in the mainstream of everyday life."
Dale, I can just hear the jokes now about mixing "Guns and Alcohol" ...That's
just we need....right??
"We'll you may, but it's the people that don't know or don't understand. When the
courts or the these people up there in Washington or whatever, get smart enough to start
prosecuting these people for shooting someone. Like John Hinkley, how long did they drag
that out? If there is a sick person that goes out and shoots someone, then he's sick and
doesn't need to be in our society. It come back to responsible people and education."
Are there going to be any promotions to show the "Right Message?"
For the Remington folks, I did thirteen info-mercials that will play around the country.
It tells you about environmental things like how much money the sporting industry puts
back into the environment and to protect it. About hunting and how it affects the animals
and how they're protected by the wildlife people. There are a lot of programs that we're
going to do."
"As far as Budweiser, they haven't talked about doing any things yet."
"I'm involved with the North Carolina Highway Patrol, and all of the law enforcement
people around the state. Anything they want to do. I just did a program with the Highway
Patrol about "Road Rage". We're promoting "Use a
Cooler Head". Look at the times we are in. you get on the highway, and there's
traffic. I don't care what street you're on, what highway you're on. There's traffic. It
doesn't have to Charlotte, Washington or Atlanta. There's traffic. And we're all
responsible people. We need to go down the highway and use our heads. We're in it
together. We'd all love to have our own lane to ride in, but that's not possible. I get
involved and I like to be involved with programs like that."
"I know the "Guns and Alcohol" will be an issue. but it may be an
opportunity to educate the public about responsibility."
(Note: Thanks Bob, Win8dale, for sending us this.)
Blk3GM's Dale Earnhardt Site was born on
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