BRISTOL, Tenn. – “That’s what I’m talking about, man—that is awesome!” said Dale Earnhardt Jr. upon learning that Bristol Motor Speedway was launching a scholarship in his name.
During a farewell tour marking his exit from the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at season’s end, Earnhardt has received a houseful of gifts and mementos, but the scholarship—an annual award to a Sullivan County, Tenn., student interested in pursuing a career in the automotive industry—was particularly touching.
“I just like helping people,” Earnhardt said on Thursday after the presentation. “I have been blessed with a lot of things, and I don’t need anything else, and if the track is going to make an effort and maybe even put some money into something, I would rather them do something that is going to make an impact in somebody’s life.
“That’s an awesome reward for me to see somebody benefit, somebody deserving benefit. I enjoy that, and it’s fun to see kind of how the tracks get creative to make an impact in their own communities. That it’s going to… I thought it would be a one-time deal, so it surprises me that it’s going to be annual, but I think the track should be commended on an effort to do something that is going to be long-lasting and impact someone else’s life.”
Earnhardt says he’s eager to pass his good fortune and the stature he earned as a driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series along to others.
“I feel like my life has been too good to be true, and I just have had so much given to me and I feel like this obligation to turn it around and do something for someone else,” he said. “And as I’ve gotten older I’ve done more and more of that, and I feel the joy from that. So I love to see that happen more and more and love to be a part of that more and more.
“Maybe I’ll meet some of these people (scholarship recipients) down the road. Like ‘I got this opportunity and I took it here and this is what happened,’ and that will be a great feeling.”