It was a seemingly minor crash at Michigan International Speedway in June 2016 that ended the day early for Dale Earnhardt Jr. What he didn’t know was that it would also end his driving for the year. He’d dealt with concussions before, but concussions are like snowflakes—no two are the same. And recovery can be brutal—and lengthy.
As a third-generation driver in a family forever connected to the sport of stock-car racing, how could Dale Earnhardt Jr. sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else take their laps? It was one of the toughest seasons of his life—one that changed him forever.
In this gripping narrative from one of professional sports’ most beloved figures, Dale Jr. shares stories from his journey: how his career and his injury have transformed him, how he made the decision to retire at the end of the 2017 season after eighteen years behind the wheel, and what lies ahead for him in the next chapter of his life. There’s no second-guessing and no regrets from Driver #88. He simply wants to go out on his own terms and make the rest of his life off the racetrack count. Junior says, “I don’t want these last races to be just about me but rather the people who made my success possible: my fans, the folks who pack the grandstands rain or shine, my teammates and crew members through the years, industry colleagues, track volunteers, friends, family, sponsors. They’ve all played a role. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s only authorized book revealing the inside track on his final year of racing and retirement from the driver’s seat.
“Time was running out on my charade… My secrets were about to be exposed to the world.”
It was a seemingly minor crash at Michigan International Speedway in June 2016 that ended the day early for Dale Earnhardt Jr. What he didn’t know was that it would also end his driving for the year. He’d dealt with concussions before, but concussions are like snowflakes, no two are the same. And recovery can be brutal, and lengthy.
When NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired from professional stock car racing in 2017, he walked away from his career as a healthy man. But for years, he had worried that the worsening effects of multiple racing-related concussions would end not only his time on the track but his ability to live a full and happy life.
Torn between a race-at-all-costs culture and the fear that something was terribly wrong, Earnhardt tried to pretend that everything was fine, but the private notes about his escalating symptoms that he kept on his phone reveal a vicious cycle: suffering injuries on Sunday, struggling through the week, then recovering in time to race again the following weekend. For the first time, he shares these notes and fully reveals the physical and emotional struggles he faced as he fought to close out his career on his own terms.
In this candid reflection, Earnhardt opens up about his frustration with the slow recovery, his admiration for the woman who stood by him through it all, and his determination to share his own experience so that others don’t have to suffer in silence. Steering his way to the final checkered flag of his storied career proved to be the most challenging race and most rewarding finish of his life.