Teresa, it’s time to ‘bury the ratchet’

Published 9:27 am Monday, May 16, 2016

Back in February I wrote about the 15 year anniversary of the death of Dale Earnhardt. A quick glance at the calendar yesterday reminded me of another commemoration.

In about two weeks, May 25 to be exact, they will announce the 2017 nominees to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.

2016 also marks six years since “The Intimidator” was voted in.

That also marked one of the last times I saw Dale’s widow, Teresa, smiling and happy in the presence of his children. It was the night of his induction back in 2010.

I bring this up now because I’m saddened to hear Teresa has re-ignited a feud with Dale’s kids over the use of his name and her protection of his legacy.

Other than Libby (Mrs. George Armstrong) Custer, I don’t think there’s been another widow in American history that has fought harder to protect their late spouse’s reputation and name.

I understand why Teresa has kept a low profile. When Dale died in 2001 I was at Rockingham the following week for the Dura Lube 400 and at a press conference she said she would be grieving for a very long time.

She’s kept her word. We lost a hero; this lady lost a husband.

How do you reconcile life in a sport that made your husband rich and famous, only to claim his life? That leads me to further understand why she doesn’t want to maintain a constant presence in a sport that took him from her. I get why racing isn’t a priority in her life anymore – conflicting emotions.

But now what I can’t understand is why this latest conflict?

In case you weren’t aware, Kerry Earnhardt – Dale’s oldest son – has started a homebuilding business and line of furniture that he named “The Earnhardt Collection”. Teresa went to court and sued Kerry over the use of the Earnhardt name; then after the courts ruled in Kerry’s favor, she filed an appeal in federal court over a U.S. Patent Office ruling that denied her challenge to the “Earnhardt Collection”, claiming it was trademark infringement.

Huh!?! Over the man using his own name? The one he was, uhm, born with.

C’mon, Teresa, cut it out. First she estranged yourself – even in business terms – from Dale’s kids. Face it, she ran Junior away from DEI (Dale Earnhardt Incorporated), then she did little as that business was run into the ground. She then refused to loan out race cars and memorabilia to the NASCAR Hall Of Fame, and now this. How long will this continuing battle over his legacy, his estate, and the racing enterprise that bore his name go on?


If Teresa thinks sheltering Dale’s memory behind closed doors – keeping it all to herself at the exclusion of us fans – and fans to be – and that this somehow endears him to us even more, lady you’re wrong.

This was a man who kept his Sportsman race car in his Dad’s old garage behind his mother’s house after Ralph Earnhardt had passed away. Why? It’s because he loved and believed in family. This is why he helped launch his kids’ racing careers and built an empire. Surely she has to get it: he wanted his children to use the Earnhardt name to succeed and further careers on their own, like any good father would do.

When Junior started JR Motorsports the first person he hired to run it was his sister, Kelly Cale. Between the two of them they helped make Junior NASCAR’s ‘Most Popular Driver’. Kerry didn’t have that same success on the track or off, but don’t you think Dale would have wanted him to cash in on the family name?

Teresa supports Taylor Nicole – Dale’s baby daughter – in her accomplishments and endeavors, as any mother would, and that’s admirable.

Now how about spreading the love, and maybe burying the ratchet.


Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at gene.motley@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7211.