Good piece by Pat Jordan on Dale Earnhardt, Jr in the New York Times Magazine this week:
Earnhardt and I were sitting on the sofa talking; his publicist sat on another sofa. We talked for two hours, while his publicist fidgeted, casting expectant glances at us. Earnhardt said nobody calls him Junior or Little E anymore, except his fans. “That’s off my back,” he said. He looked down at his hands while he talked. When I asked him why he races, he said: “I didn’t want to work for a living. What the hell am I gonna do with my life as Dale Earnhardt’s son if I don’t race? I was a mechanic in Dad’s dealership at 18, and those were some of my happiest days. But my name was Dale Earnhardt Jr., man. Working as a mechanic would’ve been a real pain. People saying: ‘What happened to you? You’re Dale Earnhardt’s son.’ ”
…What has been the hardest thing for him to deal with in his career?
He stared at his hands and said: “All my life I’ve been the smaller measure of the man. When my Dad died, I wanted to honor him. But I wanted to distance myself from him too. I wanted to get out from under being Dale Earnhardt’s son.”