Off-Track


Dale Jr. details the birth of his car graveyard

May 21, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com

Dale Jr. details the birth of his car graveyard
JR Motorsports owner: 'I just couldn't bring myself to throw (a wrecked car) away'

RELATED: Paint Scheme Preview | Dale Jr. adds Texas fireball to graveyard

Dale Earnhardt Jr. unveiled a new paint scheme Wednesday after making two additions to his "car graveyard" on Tuesday. Conversation included both topics Wednesday morning during the driver's appearance on ESPN's "SportsCenter."

Earnhardt Jr. said his father, "The Intimidator," was a "big fan" of Superman. Like father, like son; Earnhardt Jr. likes the "Man of Steel" as well.

"I remember those movies coming out when I was young, and that was a big deal at our house," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Everybody knows who Superman is. He's like the most recognizable superhero of all, so I'm glad to be representing him on the race track this weekend."

Earnhardt Jr. will attempt to claim his first Coca-Cola 600 win (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET on FOX) in his No. 88 National Guard/Superman Chevrolet SS. Two cars that won't roll off at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend were the No. 38 and the No. 51 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars used at Kansas Speedway. Earnhardt Jr. explained how he procured them for his property.

"David Gilliland and Justin Allgaier got in an accident on the front straightaway, and I called both those guys up and their race teams and asked them if they were doing anything with those cars," Earnhardt Jr. said. "If they were going to throw them away, then I'd take them and put them in the graveyard so they let me come over there and pick them up."

The co-owner of NASCAR Nationwide Series team JR Motorsports discussed how the idea of a car graveyard was born out of a desire to memorialize the hard work and dollars that went into the cars his team built.

"When we would build a car, you'd put so much into that one vehicle," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Then when you would destroy it, or it was beyond repair, I just couldn't bring myself to throw it away because we had spent so much money on it. So I started throwing them in the woods out behind the house, and we've got around probably 25 to 30 cars out there just from JR Motorsports alone.

"I started getting other cars like the Juan (Pablo) Montoya car that was in the Daytona (500 in 2012) accident with the jet dryer, stuff like that. Cars that have some sort of neat story behind them so we started getting those cars as well. I don't pay for them or anything. I just call up the owner and see if they're willing to give them up."

The former host of "Back in the Day" on SPEED Channel knows his history, but he doesn't have a plan for the cars in his hall of fame of wrecks.

"There's a lot of cars that just are torn up too bad to be repaired," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I don't know what I'm going to do with them, but they're just kind of sitting there. They're in the woods, real deep way back in the woods, just letting the weeds grow over them."

Another artifact lost in the weeds of history is a contract that a 15-year-old Earnhardt Jr. signed to drive for Rick Hendrick. The Hendrick Motorsports driver told the tale when asked of his favorite story about his car owner and NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee.

"When I was 15 years old, I was on a weeklong trip with Kenny Schrader, racing out in the Midwest, that would culminate with an event -- an ARCA race -- in Topeka, Kansas," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Rick shows up because he's going to drive in the race. My dad was there as well.

"That morning, me and Rick signed a contract for me to drive for him for the rest of my life on a napkin. We don't have the napkin anymore, but we still have the story so that's what we talk about."

Hendrick took the napkin after Earnhardt Jr. signed it, and the driver hasn't seen it since their meeting in Topeka.

"He had the napkin because he wanted the contract," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He was gambling on me becoming a race car driver and making something of myself so he had me sign the napkin. Where it went from there, I have no idea, but it would be awesome to be able to find that thing somewhere."

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