On an episode of his podcast, The Dale Jr. Download, Dale Earnhardt Jr. shared a side-splitting tale from back in 2001, when his father caught him with a cigarette for the first time.
In the world of NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Sr. was a legend – “The Intimidator” on the track and a no-nonsense guy off it. But what happens when his laid-back, jokester son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., clashes with the racing icon over something as simple as a cigarette? Hilarious chaos, that’s what!
Both father and son were gearing up for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race, sharing seat time in a Corvette Racing entry. But little did Dale Jr. know that this race would also mark the first time his father would catch him with a cigarette.
The Full Dale Earnhardt Jr. Cigarette Story
Now, let’s clear the air; the cigarette wasn’t even lit, but Junior was just goofing around in his bus to ease the nerves before the big race. With his new full-face helmet on, he thought it would be fun to stick the cigarette in the helmet’s straw hole, showing off to a friend his newfound ability to “smoke” while wearing the gear. You can imagine the scene, the adrenaline pumping, and the mischievous grin on his face.
“I’m standing in my bus and I put that helmet on and I stuck a cigarette in that little thing where the drink goes. And I’m standing right at the door of the steps, and I’m doing this dance. I’m like, ‘Hey, look at me, look at me man, look at that cigarette, you can smoke.'” Dale Jr. recalled.
But fate wasn’t on his side. Just as he was demonstrating this unconventional “smoking” method, the door to his bus swung open. There stood Earnhardt Sr., “The Intimidator” himself, staring straight at his son with that helmet-clad cigarette sticking out like a sore thumb.
“Right in that moment, dad opens the door. He looks straight up in there at me. I turn, I’ve got this helmet on with a cigarette sticking out of it and we’re getting ready to start the 24 Hours of Daytona, this Corvette thing. It’s a big day…He slams the door shut,” said Junior. “My freakin’ eyes were as big as sand dollars. I pull this helmet off and I set it down and my buddy’s like, ‘We better go.'”
The golf cart ride to the grid must have been one for the books, with Junior’s buddy trying to hold back laughter while Dad glared ahead, refusing even to glance at his mischievous son.
Despite the tense moment, the incident was quickly forgotten amidst the racing action, and the atmosphere became light again. Nowadays, Junior looks back on this hilarious clash of personalities with fondness and laughter, cherishing the unforgettable moment that revealed his rebellious spirit to “The Intimidator.”
In the end, we can all relate to the pressures of making our parents proud, even if your father happens to be a legendary NASCAR figure. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s amusing tale serves as a reminder that even the toughest of individuals can have a funny bone, and that moments of levity can be found even in the most intense of circumstances.
So, here’s to Dale Earnhardt Jr., for making us smile with his candid anecdotes and showing us that even the most iconic figures in racing have their moments of hilarity.