Dale Earnhardt Jr. may be retiring from NASCAR after this season, but as the son of a legend with a long, successful career of his own right he'll probably never run out of stories to share. Ahead of this weekend's Monster Energy All-Star Race and Charlotte Motor Speedway, Junior used the announcement of his team's new partnership with Maaco Collision Repair & Auto Painting to tell the tale of his most dramatic wreck off the race track—and it's a real doozy.
Yesterday's event was held to announce both the new paint job for the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and the Maaco tie-in, but things went off the rails pretty quickly when someone in the crowd asked Earnhardt Jr. if he'd ever had a "Maaco moment" of his own outside of racing. The two-time Daytona 500 winner admitted there's been a few that were beyond the help of a body shop, and launched into the story of his dearly-departed Chevrolet S-10 pickup.
"I flipped my S-10 pickup truck driving to my mammaw's for the family reunion on Christmas Day one time," he said, according to Fox Sports. "I was probably about 18 or 19 years old back then. I was working at the dealership as a service mechanic and my sister got me a CD player. The kind that you plug the tape in with the adapter. That thing is sitting in the passenger seat and I was fiddling with it and I wasn’t paying attention, drove off the road, hit a driveway culvert and flipped end over end and rolled a couple times."
"This couple that was driving toward me had just gotten engaged that day. They stopped and they’re like 'oh my God, that was incredible. Your truck was flipping and there are parts hanging in the trees. Are you okay?' In a mere moment, there’s this line of cars because my truck's laying there blocking the road."
Thankfully he was uninjured, but being a teenager all he cared about was avoiding the wrath of his father. Emergency responders? Don't want 'em, don't need 'em.
“I go to each one and asked if anybody had a cell phone and at the fourth car, this lady says 'you need to sit down. You're in shock.' I just wanted to call my dad and need somebody to get here that I know who can help me with the situation. I'm really young and don’t know the first thing I'm supposed to do."
Earnhardt Jr. finally managed to reach his father, who quickly arrived at the scene with the police, a tow truck, and an unexpected reaction—though definitely not out of character for the racing legend.
"Dad laughed because he actually flipped his car when he was 18. So, instead of getting mad and having my butt chewed, we laughed about it and boy did I learn my lesson," he said.