Nascar Weekly News and Notes
by Virginia Vroom
DEI. Do I even need to continue?
Dale Earnhardt Inc. is an entity beyond its foundation from now on.
What was once affectionately known as DEI is now know as DIE by some of
the most diehard Jr. fans. Since Sr.’s passing, DEI became a company
buried in its own stardom. With so much popularity and success, it’s
hard to believe that something that seemed as strong and together as DEI
could be crumbling.
Or is it?
Jr. fans are seeing the disintegration of a family. There are no other
words to describe the cohesiveness of this team. DEI was just that. It
was an Earnhardt family working together to create what is justifiably
the greatest race team in history. That is, until Sr. suddenly passed
in 2001. When this happened, Jr.’s stepmother assumed ownership of the
team. DEI became a closed-door company. Not accessible to fans, hardly
accessible to the media, and never known as a friendly face among Jr.
fans, Teresa Earnhardt became the owner that everyone loved to hate.
Jr. demanded control of the company this past season when contract
negotiations came to a head. Teresa refused. We see the unthinkable
happen. Jr., the face of DEI is leaving his dad’s team. Teresa is not
even blood! How could she even so much as think to deny ownership of
his dad’s company to Jr.?
Maybe this is just the way it was meant to be. I think that fans,
myself included (as a respect to the talent of Jr. and Senior), loved to
hate an owner who had her own issues to get through.
It’s only fair that we show a bias towards Sr.’s son. That’s natural.
But maybe there’s more to the story that only Teresa and Sr. know. He
could have truly wanted Teresa to maintain ownership. As far-fetched as
this may seem, it could just be something that we will never know.
My point in all of this is to show both sides of the story. With the
splitting of the name and the family, it is quite possible that Sr. may
have wanted it this way. But then again, it could be totally opposite.
We will never know as fans the true story. I think that the most
important thing to recognize is that this is a fresh start for Jr. and
DEI. With such unfortunate lack of success between the two, it is most
likely the best situation for now, despite loyalty.
DEI can move on. We’ve seen a change in Teresa’s attitude already since
the few weeks since the end of the season. She’s more open, more
engaging, and willing to allow the public to take a peek inside. Jr.
seems more than happy to return to roots, to Hendrick, a great friend of
his dad. Both sides are content. Animosity most certainly remains, but
this is quite possibly the greatest future for DEI and Jr.