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Dale’s Dream for DEI, Reality or Nightmare?

Dale’s Dream for DEI

Reality or Nightmare?


As I begin to write this article I have to say it is the most personal to me and the most heartfelt to date. Dale Earnhardt was the reason I became a race fan. I was one of those who believed he was 10 feet tall and bullet proof. He could do no wrong. He personified racing and he was everything a racer should be. He was born to race. It was in his blood and his natural talent undeniable. He never started a race he didn’t think he could win and as long as it would still move and had wheels on it he wasn’t going to quit. Whatever it took to win, guts and fortitude, racing by the seat of your pants and a little bump and run all these things turned a small town boy from Kannapolis with a dream into a legend.

Earnhardt became a 7-time Champion driving for owner and friend Richard Childress. He had it all or so it looked to fans. He had legions of friends, more clout than any other single driver in the garage area and he had the ear of Bill France who respected Dale. He seemed to have what was the perfect life, he was a winner who garnered much respect and love from fans everywhere. He had a lovely wife on his arm each week and he had 4 children one who carried his name, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and was set on following the footsteps of his famous father. Although both Kerry and Kelly tried their hand at racing neither exhibited the zeal and desire in the soul of Dale Jr. He idolized his father and had followed him from track to track since he was a small boy. He wanted to be like him. He wanted to be a true racer and someday a Champion.

Junior began his racing career at the late age of 17 with his dad, competing in the Street Stock division at Concord, North Carolina’s Motorsport Park and by age 19 after two seasons of driving the Street Stock Division. Earnhardt continued to hone his skills over the next few years by joining the Late Model Stock Car division. He competed on the North and South Carolina short tracks driving a No. 3 Chevrolet. While he did run various tracks during this time, Earnhardt primarily focused his efforts at the Myrtle Beach Speedway and the East Carolina Motor Speedway.  There he developed an in-depth knowledge of chassis setup and car preparation. He worked at his father’s dealership as a mechanic while he went to Mitchell Community College to earn an associate degree in automotive

technology. Junior did whatever he needed to do to prove to his Dad he wanted to race.

In the meantime, Dale Sr.’s dream was beginning to come to life. He had so much in his life. Enough money to live several lifetimes and he started to think about what he would leave behind. What would happen to his legacy when he was gone? Thus Dale Earnhardt Incorporated was born. Dale didn’t need a shop to race cars from and he never really wanted to be an owner. DEI was built so Dale Jr. and his other children would keep the legacy alive and flourishing.

The facility was spectacular fitting for a seven-time Champion. Called the Garage-Mahal. Dale Earnhardt Inc. was a monstrous 110,000-square-foot monument to excellence.  The showroom included trophies from throughout Earnhardt’s career, including his seven NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship trophies. This was the first time any of Earnhardt’s trophies or memorabilia from his lifelong career have been displayed for public access. Also included in the showroom are trophies won by Jr., Steve Park and Ron Hornaday; there were photographs of a look “Behind the Scenes” of DEI and most cherished to Dale were vintage trophies won during the late Ralph Earnhardt’s successful racing career that preceded that of his famous son. Dales dream was that the legacy would continue with trophies won by Earnhardt’s for many years to come. A place where people could come and see how it all got started and share his greatest victories and memories with his beloved fans.

23 January 2007 - NNCS Media Tour hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway. (HHP Images/Harold Hinson)

DEI flourished with Dale Jr., Steve Park and Michael Waltrip driving and with the force and knowledge of Dale Earnhardt and the business and marketing expertise of Teresa Earnhardt. Teresa never made it a secret that she didn’t get into the racing side of the game. Her job was promotion and being sure that Dale’s image and likeness was protected and the products sold under his name were quality products they could be proud of. The racing was left to Dale and the team he had assembled around him who were experts and some were also family. To Dale family was important. He took care of family.

Anyone that ever saw Dale in victory lane with Dale Jr. saw that rough exterior the Intimidator displayed disappear and the smile and pride of a Dad shine through. I think at this point in his career he loved to see JR. win as much as winning himself.

Then that fateful day came we all thought would never come became a reality. Dale was killed in an accident on the last turn at Daytona blocking for Dale JR and Michael Waltrip who he knew one was going to win the race. The unthinkable had happened and the racing world stood still. The next week though broken hearted JR suited up and got back in the car because he knew that’s what his Daddy would want him to do. He continued to be the flagship at DEI though things were far from good. Teresa and JR had never had a close relationship and now it became a struggle with Teresa showing she had all the power.


Although the late Dale Earnhardts assets remain private, his estate has been willed to his wife Teresa. Included in the will were his full NASCAR race team business (Dale Earnhardt Incorporated), his Chevrolet dealership, a $300,000 home next to his state of the art racing facility and numerous collector cars and boats. Teresa controlled it all and like the evil stepmother she had no intention of sharing it with Dale’s children. She held on with a death grip and refused to give an inch.

When it became impossible to reach an agreement with Teresa, JR was left no alternative but to move on to a lucrative deal with Hendrick Motorsports. Leaving DEI had to be one of the hardest things that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has ever done. DEI was where he grew up as a racer, first in the Busch series and later in the Winston Cup. DEI was where he won his first race. DEI was where he shared the racetrack and later victory lane with a father that passed too soon. Heck, the organization has his very name; Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. While moving to Hendrick may have guaranteed his future it was not DEI and never would be. Asked today JR says not a day goes by he doesn’t think what DEI could be now had things been different.

To add insult to injury just two months after he had competed in his last race for DEI, virtually every vestige of Junior’s 12-year tenure with his father’s company had been wiped away … albeit for a couple of souvenirs still for sale in the company gift shop. Gone were photos, trophies, race cars and virtually any other reminder that Junior was ever there. When first informed, Junior was as shocked as anyone, even lamenting how DEI wouldn’t even sell him a few prized helmets that he wanted to buy.

Now Teresa is more content to keep cashing in on Dale’s memory and image with virtually every February since his death we see a brand new line of clothing and souvenirs promoting the Man in Blacks’ legacy It’s not like she’s hanging around the shop every day. She seldom visits unless it’s to cut a merchandising deal or preside over a Foundation meeting. Dales wishes and dreams are lost on her. Racing and family were most important to him neither are to her.

Although JR still drives successfully for Hendrick Motorsports he branched out on his own to start JR Motorsports. Earnhardt Jr. hired his sister, Kelley, to run the operation and has hired many of his own family members — just as his father did. Kerry did not enjoy the same success in racing, but is using the Earnhardt name to build a successful business — just as his father would have wanted. But Teresa has had little to do with her stepchildren and has repeatedly stood in the way of them using the Earnhardt name — or their own name and birthright — to succeed on their own. Even as far as taking Kerry to court to keep him from using the Earnhardt name on his home design business.


Will Teresa take her bitterness and greed to the grave? What would it take to change her heart and do the right thing and let DEI come back home to JR, Kelly, Kerry and even Taylor Nichole? All DEI has is history, it’s over. JR Motorsports is carrying the Earnhardt legacy now and Dale Sr.’s dream is dead because he entrusted Teresa to do the right thing. It’s not too late to resurrect DEI, let Teresa keep the merchandising of Dales image but let DEI come home to JR and let it once again be a part of NASCAR and be the powerhouse Dale SR’s vision was with Earnhardts racing there for generations.

The nightmare this has all become could once again be a beautiful dream but it’s all in the hands of the greedy stepmother. An inheritance is what you leave to someone. A legacy is what you leave in someone. Dale Earnhardt left his soul and fire for racing in Dale Jr. That’s where the legacy lives.

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  1. Teresa is so full of herself and evil that I am afraid of what could happen to DEI. but no one knows what goes on in her head. The right thing would be to turn everything over to Jr. But that is probably a pipedream. So we will continue to pull for JR MOTORSPORTS and pray things change for the good. Love #88 and Dale Jr.

    • What the love of money will do,Not Dales wishes but greed,I think we know now what her love was,How does she sleep at night,Dale 3 would be very proud of Dale 88

    • She will go straight to hell for what shes done to Dale’s children. Keep riding around in your Limo since apparently you can’t drive. Kelly,Dale Jr,and Kerry will win in the end because of the love and respect they still have for their Dad. Wifey live your selfish life,you have to answer to God in the end. I really feel sorry for you,I hope God has love for you after what you’ve done to Dale’s kids. Good luck old lady. You’re going to need it.

    • Final straw for me, was when she tried to block Kerry from using his own name. Earnhardt is her married name. It is the name Kerry was born with. Dale Earnhardt was racing for me, for many years. One of the most gifted and unique men to ever live, in many respects. Racer, businessman, hunter, farmer and many other things to those people whose lives he touched. Still miss the ol’ rascal and NASCAR hasn’t been the same since we lost him. Best wishes to Junior, Kelly and Kerry. Hope some of dad wore off on Taylor Nichole?

    • So sad, I’ll follow Dale JR wherever he races and support him wherever i can.. To hell with you pirate hooker Teresa, shame on you. ????

    • It is so sad. Dale Sr trusted and loved Teresa. She obviously loved the money not the man. Yes she is evil and she will pay for that at some point. The kids were born Earnhardt. She married it. I’m sure Dale Sr is so disappointed in her, as the whole racing world. And what she did to Kerry showed the world how greedy she is. You can’t love someone and do these things to his children. His trust in her turned out to be everything he never wanted.

  2. We are assuming the collapse of DEI is about Teresa when it was merely one of MULTIPLE teams from 2001 onward that either went bankrupt or had to merge to survive – Ganassi-SABCO, which was forced into a marriage with DEI to continue surviving with both in truncated form; Ray Evernham Motorsports, Petty Enterprises – the present Richard Petty Motorsports like Earnhardt-Ganassi is the result of a forced marriage of PE and REM to continue surviving in truncated form – Andy Petree Racing, the Cal Wells team, Robert Yates Racing, the former Morton-Bowers team, and more recently the Mateschitz outfit and Michael Waltrip Racing – and this season we’re seeing cracks at Hendrick Motorsports, this as RCR and Roush Racing trudge along as a shell of themselves. Blaming it all on Teresa when DEI was more the victim of the sport’s own spendaholism is being excessively myopic.

      • Audrey, since you are the all knowing, please explain to us just exactly how it did happen.
        I’m totally ignorant to the process since I was only an employee there and thought this was relatively accurate.

      • She needs to get her head out of her assistant and realizes he is only an Earnhardt by marriage. Let Dale Jr take it over a create the empire that his dad dreamed of. Sure would be nice to see DEI back in cup.

          • I agree with Gordon. It was meant for his kids. I knew Dale and the only thing that he loved more than racing was his family and friends. Teresa is a greedy self righteous person. I met her once and she turnedd her nose up to his fans. So go ahead Teresa and be greedy and you are the one that will have to answer to Godd in the end.

    • Myopic? Where have you been?
      She inherited a WINNING team but refused to spend the money on the necessary items to continue winning.
      If she had, it’s likely a merger wouldn’t have been necessary. Dale Sr could be a regular SOB but he spent the money needed to win.

    • You’re so full of Crap!! Jr is most popular driver 14 years in a row!! DEI could have been a 1 car team with Dale Jr and still been one of the most thriving companies in the business on name alone!! Drivers notice it!! Look at Kevin Harvicks statements recently. NASCAR fans don’t care how many Championships Jimmy Johnson wins, the name Dale Earnhardt put butts in seats at all NASCAR events and that carried on with Dale Jr and you’ll see the effects of Jr’s retirement next year! My point is that DEI would have never failed with Dale Jr there and Teressa is 100% responsible for him not being there!

    • D.E.I., I think would have been fine if Jr. ran it, maybe not the powerhouse it was or could have been but still successful in it’s own right

  3. Would Jr even want it back? I just do not think He could ever work with this woman again.She got rid of everything and would not let Jr have anything how aweful.

  4. She’s a hateful evil woman who just thinks of herself and I just know Dale Sr is turning over in his grave but Jr doesn’t need her or DEI since JR motorsports is doing so well and he done it without her go JR

  5. Greed took over and family bonds died without Dale. JR should have been left DEI and not Teresa and none of this would have happened. Dale SR believed Teresa would do what was right for the family. Instead she only cared about “her” family and not his.

    • All of you are wrong. This is more of an op/ed piece not a news story. Jr was offered 52% of DEI. Conditions included quit hanging and partying with his posse. Concentrate on winning a championship. Run DEI not JR Motorsports. He turned it down. Why you ask. His birth mother was not welcome there. His mom was the one that left Dale Sr. She hated racing. I’m not saying Teresa is saint but most of this story is b.s. How do I know. I worked there.

      • I don’t know what age you are, but were you there in the years when Teresa was running after him behind his wife’s back? And his wife was at home raising his children? A few of us watched it play out in real life , around our small town,and know what really happened.

    • I agree with everything you all are saying.. But I can say this people, when you do your WILL, rich or not, make sure,if you think your WIFE will do the right thing,put that in the WILL too, My daddy was not rich,but he had a second wife, which we knew she was a bitty,, She got all the money and the children got all the LAND,, The Bitty wanted MORE,, From experience,of court, just make sure you understand you will, even in the LAW BOOK,Law Book is so very different,, I just thought Dale Sr, would have understand that,,But it could have been something like my daddy’s Bitty wife said to him. (wife says) Bobby, I will do the right thing,,


    • Giving 51% to just anyone…no…but to Dale Sr’s son…that is different and if it meant keeping the business in the family they should have been able to come to an agreement…

  7. This is as close to my heart as it is the writers. I grew up a Dale Sr fan, my Dad was and still is a Sr fan. So when Jr started racing I started following him mainly because my dad liked Sr so I took up with Jr. I will say If it wasn’t for Tresea pointing Sr In the direction he went with the business side of it,DEI may never have been. But after Sr passed it left a void in Jr. So he dealt with it in his own way, which we all would do. Tho, I think with Jr being in the spot light as he was and is he handled it the best he could. Tho it showed on the track and at the track. He started staying out late, drinking a lot and even dyed his hair and even skipping fan events. But in 2004 I think when he won the Daytona 500 it sparked a new flame in Jr winning 6 races and it if wasn’t for a slip of the tongue on national TV after winning a race and NASCAR docking him points he coulda been battling for the title but he finished 5th in points that year. I think he was ready to move on and start his career over and that’s what started him wanting control of the team side of it. If Tresea would have let him where would we be today? Would there be a JRM? Would there have been a MWR? The things that could have been if Dale Sr was still with us is mind boggling. The worst part of it for the fans of Jr is all the cars, trophies etc of Jr is gone from DEI. I remember someone asking Dale where his first Daytona 500 win car is. His reply was I have no idea. And this is now Treseas Legacy. Not Dale Sr’s Legacy. She will be known as the down fall of DEI. If she’d took the high road she could have been making even more money and promoting the most popular driver. And possibly have had many titles at DEI. butvi will end this by saying OH WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN.

    • Sorry to say that when one passes they think they know that there family will do what was wanted. Sorry to say that is not true. I so hate that for Dale Sr and Jr. Losing my own father recently and knowing what he stood for is all lost hurts and I know Jr feels that too.

  8. She should let dale Earnhardt seniors kids get involved in the company IF they want and if they want things from the business they should get it . And not to fight against them it is just driving a wedge between the family and that is family’s shouldn’t do but they do it anyway.

    • Once again You are a evil woman! Lady (shouldn’t call you that because you aren’t one) You better get right with God because He doesn’t like ugly.If you know the name Bible you should know what that means. What you have done to Dale’s children is plain evil. Hope you sleep good at night,because if I had done what you have,Id be afraid to close my eyes at night. They say Karma is a Bitch. Oh well guess it will be for you one day.

  9. I am a Earnhardt fan but Dale losing his life and DEI went under racing is not the same.she doesn’t want the racing part but will refuse Jr. Stupidity

  10. I know first hand how he feels because my stepmother did the very same thing . I have tried to make peace with it but it is not easy . Everyday I think about how my life would be if he had made better choices and not to assume someone that is not blood would do the right thing. In todays world money is the root to all evil. I live my life with God said vingence is mind said the LORD. I pray Dale jr can and will do better by his family when he has one .

  11. She is a good looking woman, but I learned a long time ago not to judge a package by the way it is wrapped. She is protective of her late husbands name but I don’t believe he would approve of the way she has treated his family.

    • I always thought she had a hard look about her, no warmth. At Dale Sr,s funeral she showed up on the arm of a state trooper rather than entering with the family as a group. That was telling. Dale Jr doesn,t need her money now. And by all accounts he is taking care of his extended family with jobs, financial largess, etc.

  12. I think she will leave it all to Taylor, I have tried to feel for her and her loss. She became so greedy and scary. I pray she see’s her husbands dream. Death changes ppl. I know, some just never get past it. Give them their heritage.

  13. I think it was wrong what she did, it also was wrong for Jr to assume he had a right to 51% of the business, Kerry, Kelly and Taylor have equal rights to part of that business, Teresa came from nothing, look she was a Houston and they had nothing, her sister almost ran Hickory Speedway in the ground, both are double barrel b!/($’s ! I say it all worked out for the better, and I’m beginning to wonder if Jr will race much longer or at all again

    • You are wrong about Sherry I worked for her at Hickory she put a lot into that track time and money . She took on a track that had been hit hard by a promoter before her that ran it in the ground. She received awards for updating and making the track better with very little help from the property’s owner . As far as her sister don’t you think Dale had in his will how he wanted thing handled and distributed to his kids he was a pretty smart man . Just saying get your comments right before you put someone down

  14. My opinion is the author of this article may need to bone-up on English grammar before projecting yellow journalism, character degrading. My opinion is, why can’t people mind their own business(s), and permit the Earnhardt’s to mind their business; for, after all, isn’t their business anyway? My opinion is I would not give any credence to this anecdote. My opinion is I remain an ardent fan of Dale, jr., 88.

  15. I wonder the same thing about Dale Jr. I was hoping he would be like his Dad but no one will ever be like Dale Sr. but that is just my opinion. Everyone has there own favorite but I still say when Sr. died my spirit and joy of racing died too. I so loved watching that black #3 coming thru the pack. Those were the good old days.

  16. She will take everything to the grave with her and she has tried to ruin what the Earnhardt name stood for and what he worked for. I feel for the kids but not for her, she is a greedy vain woman who only married the name Earnhardt and does not have the grace and goodness of the Earnhardt family.

  17. My mom and Dales mom….Martha were related very distantly but still related she is one of the finest women you could ever know…….I know all this breaks Marthas heart and thats not fair at all……God bless the Earnhardt family. Justice will come!!!! I love you Martha!

  18. Anytime there is money involved, family comes in second. When Dale died, racing died. The France’s are making it a point to kill it.

  19. Anytime there is money involved, family comes in second. When Dale died, racing died. The France’s are making it a point to kill it.

    • Racing didn’t die when Al Davis-Earnhardt died. This kind of sentiment merely proves Kevin Harvick has a point about Junior’s lack of success and stunting the sport’s popularity.

  20. Earnhardt was not blocking so Waltrip could win the race, Earnhardt was racing for position on his way to his 8th championship. You note in your first paragraph, “He never started a race he didn’t think he could win and as long as it would still move and had wheels on it he wasn’t going to quit.” There was no need to block in turn 4 to protect the leader when you are so far back; he was protecting his position. Plus, Earnhardt spent the entire race running extremely aggressive and flipping people off.

  21. I remember when Teresa was just a “pit lizard” at Hickory Speedway. One of those gals hanging around the track on Saturday night.Dale fell for her and made her what she is today but once a tramp always a tramp!!!

  22. People stop buying anything that would out money in her pocket. I was a huge Prince fan but refuse to buy stuff they are are coming out with because the greedy ones are goin to reap the rewards and I’m too stubborn to help them flourish after his death and they had nothing to do with him. Same concept.
    Let the ol witch go broke!!

  23. No decent human being would treat her stepchildren the way she has treated her late husband’s. I’ve been treated the same by my fathers second wife and she and Teresa will rot in hell together.

  24. Finger pointing won’t solve the problem. DEI is dead. It and NASCAR both died February 18 2001. Now that being said, I think she should lighten up on the use Iv the name, after all they were born into it. As far as greed she will have to answer to a higher authority than Dales fans and family for that! I do however think it’s a shame she has let the one thing that Sr. Was so passionate about go to the wayside. I wish the Earnhardt children well in whatever they do in life, and just maybe something will happen to put DEI back to its former self. I’m trying to write this with as much respect for both sides as possible, but her list for money has really put the nails in DEI’s coffin. But it wasn’t what killed it. The death of one of the greatest heros to ever put on a fire suit did that! I miss seeing him on the track as much now as I did in 2001.


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