The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series will be Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final season after he announced his retirement earlier this year. Through Earnhardt Jr.’s 18 seasons and more than 600 races, the star racer clinched two Daytona 500 wins in his career.
So, what’s a proper retirement gift for someone of Earnhardt Jr.’s stature? How about his father’s old race car?
At Talladega Superspeedway, the track operators presented Earnhardt Jr. with Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s former No. 2 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The senior Earnhardt drove the car in 1979 in his rookie Cup season and won his first championship with it in 1980. Technically, the state of Alabama owns the car, but Jalopnik reports the car has been on “permanent loan” to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, where the very special Monte Carlo has resided in recent years.
Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch said there’s no better home for the car than with Earnhardt Jr., and said it’s an “honor to present the race car his father drove to his first championship to him.” Earnhardt junior said he’d never driven anything like the No. 2 Monte Carlo and expressed utmost appreciation for the car after he took it for a spin around the track.
“I love to be able to sit in the car and just see the perspective of … what the view was like. So different than our cars today. No headrests or nothing like that. Just kind of see everything and a lot of wind moving around, and pretty crazy,” he said.
Earnhardt Jr. won six times at Talladega during his career, though he missed out on making it a seventh time at the Alabama 500 this past Sunday. What will he do with his spare time post-2017? The well-known racing personality had previously announced he would move to reality TV; he continues to work on a DIY Network television series with his wife, Amy.