Since the sport began in 1948, NASCAR has always been known as a family sport. The main reason for that is the number of families that have grown up around stock car racing.
From the Pettys, to the Earnhardts, to the Jarretts, a family atmosphere has always been present.
For Ned and Dale Jarrett, racing has taken their relationship to a new level. Dale grew up with his father around the track but didn’t start taking the idea of being a race car driver seriously until he turned 20. That decision was the beginning of an incredible father-son duo, and the only living one in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“It might have been more special for me when Dale got elected to the hall of fame than it was when I got elected to it,” Ned said. “I know how hard he had worked to get to where he did… to accomplish something.”
Ned, who was also a popular in-race analyst for CBS, was inducted in the 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame class, while his son Dale was inducted three years later in 2014.
Professional sports travel can be rigorous, but Father’s Day for the Jarrett family was always spent together, regardless of the race on the schedule. Back when Ned was driving, the Father’s Day race was always held at Michigan. For that reason, the track has a special place in his heart.
“I could always look forward to Sunday morning on Father’s Day, they all came and gave me a hug and talked to me.” Ned said.
A highlight of both of their careers occurred at the 1993 Daytona 500. Dale was in contention in the closing laps, while his dad Ned was on the call for CBS. When the race came down to the closing moments, the production crew wanted one thing.
“He [the CBS producer] said back off, because we’re gonna let Ned call the last lap,” Ned said. “I didn't know he had told them that and all of the sudden he came on after Dale took the lead on my headset and said okay, call your son home and be a daddy. That turned out to be such a special moment.”
While racing has been a big part of the Jarretts' life, there’s one word that describes them better: character. Both Ned and Dale have plenty of messages to live by, including this one that came from the generation just before them.
“My dad always preached to me to try to build respect,” Ned said. “Regardless of what you do in life, respect your fellow man and build respect for yourself.
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