Dale Earnhardt Sr used nitrous to qualify for his first NASCAR race

Long before becoming a 7-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Dale Earnhardt ignored the rulebook

Dale Earnhardt Sr became a 7-time NASCAR Cup Series champion. But, he didn’t climb to the top of the podium overnight.

His first win came in 1979 with Osterlund Racing at Bristol Motor Speedway. But, long before that, Earnhardt was scratching his way just to make the field.

In 1975, Dale Earnhardt made his first career NASCAR Cup Series start. Negre Racing fielded the machine.

The team was underfunded. They needed a little help to make the race. In doing so, they went a little outside the rulebook…

Tommy Russell spent time around Dale Earnhardt Sr. He was at the track for Earnhardt’s first start in 1975 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

This is epic…

Tommy Russell recalls Dale Earnhardt Sr’s first qualifying attempt

“I can’t tell it all,” Tommy Russell stated via the Dale Jr Download.

“Dale let me off work to go over there and get the car ready to race. Me and Norman was going to change the tires and everything.”

“We made the race,” Russell recalled the qualifying run.

Dale Jr pulled out the crow bar to pull the full story out.

“We had to have a bottle,” Russell finally explains.

Dale Earnhardt Jr responded, “Dad had nitrous?! Oh boy!”

Russell recalled, “I said, ‘Dale, where is the bottle?’ He said, ‘Dammit Tommy, I’m sitting on the bottle.’ “

“He said, ‘You see that pop riveted air filter? That’s where it’s coming out at.’ “

“As soon as qualifying was over, we got it the hell out of there.”

Dale Earnhardt finished 22nd in the race with the nitrous removed.

Dale Earnhardt Sr once threw a shoe at Dale Jr after a race

Dale Earnhardt Jr reacts

Dale Earnhardt Jr drives Earnhardt Sr machine at Darlington Raceway - NASCAR
DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 08: Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the pace lap in his father’s, Dale Earnhardt #8 Chevrolet prior to the NASCAR Xfinity Series Steakhouse Elite 200 at Darlington Raceway on May 08, 2021 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

“I wish I would have known this,” Dale Jr reacts.

“There was a lot of nitrous back then in racecars.”

“That’s funny. The funny part is because around 1995-96, I was working on my late model car in a warehouse that dad put all his parts and stuff in for his Xfinity team. Jeff Green was the driver at the time.”

“Im right next to the phone booth. There’s a phone, I don’t know how I figured this out but I got a hold of somebody that sold nitrous. I was on the phone with this guy asking him about it.”

“And Dad walked up on me. I didn’t know he was standing there. I’m on the phone talking to this guy. I get off the phone, turn and there’s daddy.”

“He’s like, ‘If you ever put nitrous on your late model car you won’t be going to the race track with it. That’s my race car and you ain’t putting nitrous on it.’ “

“That was his way of saying, ‘You’re not going to do that.’ “

“He talked like a guy who had never used nitrous. If I had known! ‘Well, damn daddy, You used a little nitrous back in the day!’ “

Dale Earnhardt Jr stole $80 from his dad’s coin jar, was expelled from school and also got the belt (a few times)


Dale Jr | Dale Earnhardt | NASCAR