Jeffrey Earnhardt was searching for the perfect way to honor his late grandfather Dale Earnhardt on the 20th anniversary of his winning the Daytona 500.
Like any good public relations representative, Earnhardt’s specialist, Kate Fegley, had the ideal suggestion—a helmet featuring the Intimidator’s likeness.
Although she had hoped to surprise the fourth-generation racer, necessity expedited the process. Earnhardt received the helmet in just six days.
“They didn’t know if they were going to have time to get it done because they were in such a rush to get helmets knocked out at Off Axis,” Earnhardt told motorsport.com. “Once she told me, I told Greg (Stumpff, owner Off Axis Paint), “You have to do it.’ You’ve got to get this done.’
“So I begged him to do it. He broke down and agreed that if they got everything done in time, he would let Noel (McEwen, artist) air brush the helmet. He definitely did a bad-ass job on this one.”
Earnhardt, 28, who will pilot the No. 00 VRX Simulators Chevrolet for StarCom Racing, will start 18th in the first Can-Am Duel 150-mile qualifying race on Thursday night. In his two starts at Daytona, Earnhardt’s best finish was 26th in last year’s Great American Race.
His great grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt, raced at Daytona in the 1960’s, and there has been an Earnhardt in every 500 since 1979.
But the 1998 Daytona 500 won by his grandfather is one that Jeffrey Earnhardt will never forget—even if he was just eight-years-old at the time.
“I just remember that was all you saw anywhere and everywhere,” Earnhardt said. “People talking and interviews about his win and stuff. It was like the world stopped just to talk about him winning. That race was such a big deal for him.
“It meant so much to him, and it was cool to see the response worldwide about people’s response to him finally winning one.”