Earnhardt Nation Review
Dale Earnhardt Senior is one of the most famous NASCAR drivers, up there with the likes of Richard Petty and Jeff Gordon. Not only was he an amazing NASCAR driver on his own, but his kids Dale Earnhardt Junior and Kerry Earnhardt are also very prominent figures in NASCAR. However, Dale Earnhardt Sr. isn’t still with us, as he died in 2001 during the Daytona 500. However, even in death his fans and rivals are still out there, having the same great time watching today’s newer generation of drivers, with Dale’s own sons being some of those drivers. Dale’s story has been told many times before, but one writer wanted it done right. That was Yahoo Sports writer Jay Busbee, who had had his writing career boosted greatly by NASCAR. He decided to write a book about not just Dale Earnhardt Sr., but about the entire Earnhardt family, even presaging NASCAR itself. However, is one Sports writer’s book able stand up against dozens of other books and films, made by both bigger and smaller groups?
What is it about?
The tag line of Earnhardt Nation is “The Full-Throttle Saga of NASCAR’S First Family,” and it lives up to that. The book starts all the way back in 1744 with Johannes Ehrenhart, who immigrated to the United States from Germany. Johannes even had sons fighting in the Revolutionary War, and they were wagon makers. The relation to wheels goes quite far back for Earnhardts. After the generations back dive, the book goes much more in depth on Dale Earnhardt Senior’s father, Ralph Earnhardt.
Ralph was the first true racer in the family, first racing in short track races, which were completely unofficial, but still a great joy. However he ended up quitting his full time job to race in NASCAR, and he did, and did it well. He didn’t have much money to start with, so he decided to take care of all the work himself. As he kept racing, he kept winning, and as he kept winning, he kept getting money and sponsors, and as he got money and sponsors, he kept winning even more. Ralph had five kids all loved helping him with his work, but one shown brighter than the rest, and that was Dale.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. was always obsessed with riding bikes and tricycles, and even more than that, being in first. Dale would go watch his dad race, and dropped out of school in ninth grade. Dale started with dirt racing, and it seemed as if Ralph had just been born again. However in 1973, Ralph died of a heart attack, and Dale’s inspiration, his rock, was gone. After a while he started moving on from dirt races to asphalt with NASCAR. He had a rocky start at first, but when he was taken up by Robert Gee, things seemed to work themselves out. After the bad first experiences, Dale had started to win…everything. Dale had been moving up through the ranks, and joining more professional racing teams. Then the biggest NASCAR event, The Daytona 500, came up. Obviously Dale was going to win it, right? Not at all. He could conquer every challenge except for that. He’d even race with a snapped collarbone and broken sternum.
Dale could win or place well in nearly every race except for the Daytona 500, much to his dismay. He had even said “We’ve lost this race about every way you can lose it. We’ve been out-gassed, out-tired, out-run, and out-everythinged.” However, 1998 was the year when Dale would win, all because of a technicality on the current rules of the caution flag. That was one of Dale Sr.’s most emotional, and most proud days. However, although Sr. had won his first Daytona 500, another Earnhardt was stepping into the ring.
Dale Earnhardt Junior. You can’t go to anything that has even a hint of NASCAR related to it without finding something related to Jr. nearby. Junior started NASCAR without putting as much time and effort as his father, but soon got some advice from him, and with that he got his act together. He started winning more, gaining sponsors, until he was racing against Senior himself. Junior wanted to carve out his own name, and Senior didn’t want to give Junior anything he didn’t deserve, so their was no father helping son events. So both Junior and Senior raced together until the infamous 2001 Daytona 500.
The 2001 Daytona 500 is the most well known of them all, and that’s because of Senior’s crash. Flying nearly 170 miles into the wall, he let Michael Waltrip and Junior get first and second, but he didn’t make it off the field. While everyone was out celebrating, he was being rushed to a hospital. At first it was just those at the track, but the news grew to a national level about Senior’s seemingly imminent fate. These weren’t good times, as it seems NASCAR had just lost their biggest star, their most well known racer, and it was because he didn’t have the proper safety equipment, and NASCAR would have been to blame.
The rest of the book shows about how the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. rocked the NASCAR world, and the effects it had on his family. It also shows the later affect on Dale Jr.’s life, while also talking up to date on his current racing career. @
9/10 and 7/10
I gave Earnhardt Nation two different ratings, because there are two different people that will read it. The main appeal goes to major fans of NASCAR, and for NASCAR fans this book is perfect. It covers not only three generation of Earnhardts, but three generations of NASCAR along with it. All of the stories interspersed with other famous drivers show the sides of NASCAR off of the track, as well as on it.
The reason I also gave Earnhardt Nation a 7/10 is because without prior knowledge to NASCAR, it’s going to be lost on you. Even though Jay Busbee explains it and features of it comparatively to other sports and events, it doesn’t match the feel of going to a race and rooting for your favorite driver.
- Penultimate story of the Earnhardts
- Very entertaining
- Doesn’t just focus on Earnhardts
- Provides background knowledge on NASCAR as a sport
- Can alienate unaligned readers
- Files a somewhat niche category of literature