Whether it be Junior or Senior, the name Dale Earnhardt is legendary in the sport of NASCAR.
Dale Earnhardt Sr lost his life on the final lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001 when he crashed into the outside wall while trying to protect his DEI drivers – Dale Earnhardt Jr and race leader Michael Waltrip.
Since the death of his father, Dale Jr has carried on the legacy of the Earnhardt name; first as a driver, then as a broadcaster, team owner, historian, and now as a curator.
It is Dale Jr who is the first guest curator for the Hall of Fame has personally chosen the cars that have become the latest incarnation of the NASCAR Hall of Fame exhibit Glory Road.
The exhibit titled “Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions” will run for three years is a massive undertaking of actual vehicles – not scaled down replicas.
Speaking on the opportunity to serve as curator of the exhibit, Junior said, “It was a real honor to be asked. To have any involvement with anything that goes on at the Hall of Fame – this is where you learn about our sport. This is where you can really understand and grow the sport. This is where you learn everything you need to know about NASCAR right here.” He added that choosing the theme of the exhibit was a, “no brainer,” to represent the “best of the best”. It was procuring the cars that was the hard part.
The exhibit features 18 cars on a track that represents every track in the NASCAR circuit from 15 drivers – three drivers have two cars in the exhibit – Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jimmie Johnson; all seven time NASCAR champions. Junior said, “these aren’t remakes. These aren’t cars that someone else drove or painted it like Rusty Wallace’s car. That’s the car that he competed in in that particular year. That to me means the most. When the fans come here and they look at that exhibit, they know in their heart and they know in their mind, that car was out on the race track and getting the job done. There’s no better representation of the history of the sport than the real stuff.”
Not surprising, Junior’s favourite car in the exhibit was driven by his father, Dale Sr. – a 1980 Blue and Yellow Chevrolet Monte Carlo – is also one that Junior helped to restore.
Fourteen of the 15 drivers on display are also members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Still an active driver, Jimmie Johnson is not yet eligible for induction into The Hall.
The cars on display in “Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions” are:
Herb Thomas’ 1951 Hudson Hornet
Buck Baker’s 1957 Chevrolet 150
Richard Petty’s 1964 Plymouth Belvedere
David Pearson’s 1968 Ford Torino
Benny Parsons 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle
Cale Yarborough’s 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass 422
Richard Petty’s 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass 422
Dale Earnhardt Sr’s 1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Darrell Waltrip’s 1981 Buick Regal
Bobby Allison’s 1983 Buick Regal
Bill Elliott’s 1988 Ford Thunderbird
Rusty Wallace’s 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix
Alan Kulwicki’s 1992 Ford Thunderbird
Dale Earnhardt Sr’s 1994 Chevrolet Lumina
Jeff Gordon’s 1997 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Tony Stewart’s 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix
Jimmie Johnson’s 2006 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Jimmie Johnson’s 2016 Chevrolet SS