OVENS: Junior Leaves Incredible Sports Legacy

Steven Ovens Cup, Staff Columns, Steven Ovens Blog 0 Comments

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s personality and likability will be two of the hallmarks of his racing legacy. (NASCAR photo)

steveIf they had given out dimes for every time this week that someone said Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the kind of person you could just sit down and drink a beer with, you’d be a wealthy person.

Imagine being that guy — the guy that you’d like to just have a beer with. Whether you’re a fan of beer or not, the point is that those are the people who are calm, cool, and collected.

With those people, it’s an easy conversation, and they’re people that can relate to anybody and any situation.

Oh, by the way, they’re pretty fun too.

Notice that I never said one word about wins, championships or anything having to do with levels of performance in a sport (or in Earnhardt’s case, a profession).

To me, this is the legacy that Earnhardt has left on NASCAR racing, cemented once and for all when the checkered flag fell on Sunday evening’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Earnhardt has said all along that he never set out to accomplish all of the statistical marks that his famous father set during his illustrious NASCAR career — stats that only the likes of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have come close to tying or surpassing.

None of that mattered to Junior because the young kid from Kannapolis, N.C. just wanted to make a decent living racing stock cars.

Think about his story, going back to his youth before racing came along. He was doing lube, oil and filters at Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet, building race cars to race on the weekends with his siblings. And you know something? He was perfectly happy doing so.

What blue collar race fan in America couldn’t relate to that?

This is the kind of legacy that each of us should strive for in life. When someone asks what your legacy is in life, and the first thing someone does is pull out the history book or pulls out your resume and lists off your stats and accomplishments … is that really the legacy you want to leave behind?

At least in my case, I’d rather be known as a decently successful person who was better known for being a friend to all, and being the guy that people wanted to have a beer with.

One influence on this legacy that Earnhardt will leave behind is his use of digital and social media to perfection. Sure, there’s an incredible staff at JR Motorsports that help pull those opportunities together, but at the end of the day people have to be willing to put themselves out there and make themselves accessible to the public, their fans and those outside their corners of the world.

Anyone can hire a great media team, but nobody puts themselves out there or sticks their neck out on live videos like Dale Earnhardt Jr. does.

In an age where it gets people further in racing to be ‘vanilla drivers’ who don’t make waves, give robotic answers and keep sponsors out of controversy, Junior is very much the opposite.

He’ll be the first to address an in-race controversy on his post-race Periscope; you heard that right, post-race Periscope. How many other drivers are breaking down their race in the rental car on the way to the airport?

Earnhardt is also five seasons into an incredibly popular weekly podcast titled “The Dale Jr. Download” on Dirty Mo Radio.

While the first four seasons of the podcast were hosted by members of the JR Motorsports team, the fourth season started including an extremely popular segment with Earnhardt breaking the race down himself.

It became so popular that Earnhardt made the choice to co-host the podcast in 2017 for Season 5.

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