I do not know Dale Earnhardt Jr., nor do I talk to anyone who does know him about him. I have not met him either. I do have this insight, I believe, into him. I to have lost parents at a young age. Though my experience is not like his, I do think however that this gives me a bit more insight then others.
I want you to get into the same mind set that I am right now. So think of words to describe this name: Dale Earnhardt. What came to your mind? Determined, strong willed, focused, stubborn, winner, champion, hero, great driver; did any of that come to mind? I'm sure a few if not all did. I can also guess that a few more also came to mind. Here is the question though. Who were you describing? Was it Dale Earnhardt, Sr. or was it Dale Earnhardt, Jr.? It's hard sometimes to differentiate between the two when you are describing them isn't it? In that, there lies the problem.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is not Dale Earnhardt, Sr. While many times on the track he reminds us of his father, he is not. Nor does it help that the media and we fans are constantly comparing to him to his father. How would you like to go through life being compared and having people wish that you were someone else? It wouldn't be easy for anyone. Especially a young man who has lost his hero and now is being pressured to be just like him. Now multiply that pressure by thousands of people many of them you don't even know.
While I think Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a fine driver and a good role model, I do see him as a lost man. I think his taking so much time to sign a contract with DEI is a prime example of this. He is in that odd place in life where you are too old to party every night and run around with friends all the time, but still too young to take on huge amounts of responsibility. I understand that. I too am there. He is setting the course for his future without his lighthouse there to guide him.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has learned the art of staying away from the media. This has earned him the label of being shy. I do not believe he is shy, based on what I have read about him. I believe he is just a private sort of guy who wants to be as normal as possible. Who finds it normal to have microphones shoved in their face every time they step out of their front door? When it is not a microphone or tape recorder being shoved in his face it is something for him to sign I can see why at times he wants to tell everyone where to shove it.
These are just a few things to think about the next time you are at a racetrack wanting someone's autograph and they are no where to be found. Don't think that they are stuck up or don't care about the fans, they just need a little time to be normal themselves.
By Melissa Meek