Dale Earnhardt Jr. on skeleton helmet design: ‘Make everybody think I’m a little crazy’

David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer/TNS via Getty Images)

CONCORD, North Carolina – Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a one helmet kind of guy.

The reason is simple. They’re kind of expensive.

“When people come asking for helmets, it is kind of hard to give them away because that is the only helmet I have from that season,” Earnhardt said Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I like to keep it myself and store it away. So, I don’t have a whole lot of helmets floating around. I know that Tony (Stewart) was really smart wearing a different one each week, I probably should have done something like that. The Stilo’s (brand of helmet) I’ve got are $3-5,000 apiece and I ain’t buying them. So, I just wear the same one all year.”

Since he only has to worry about one helmet, the 14-time most popular driver has made sure it counts. Each helmet has a special skeleton-themed design created by Nick Pastura.

MORE: A look at Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s helmets through the years

So what’s up with the skeletons? Besides being creepy.

“When I started racing in the Xfinity Series in ’98 or ’99, I think, we started getting helmets from Nick Pastura and he used to paint backdrops for rock and roll tours like Guns N’ Roses and so forth, so I figured he could paint a mean skull,” Earnhardt said. “So, I just told him to put something on the back that would make everybody think I’m a little crazy (laughter) and make all those drivers wonder about me. And we just never have changed the theme.

“I don’t know what else I’d put on there anyway. I think it was more about ‘Hey Nick, you just have fun with this and do whatever you want to do.’ I like skulls and pirates and all that good stuff. So, just have fun with it. And he just does something new every time. And he’s done an amazing job.”

But Pastura will get to design one more helmet for Earnhardt before he retires from full-time Cup competition following this season.

Pastura will design the helmet Earnhardt will wear in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Earnhardt’s final start. Earnhardt didn’t provide any details on the helmet, but it will be in addition to driving a paint scheme based on the first Budweiser car Earnhardt drove at the beginning of his Cup career.

Once the race is over, Earnhardt will give his helmet to team owner Rick Hendrick.

“If the car makes it through the race, I’m going to take the car and Rick can have the helmet. That is our deal,” Earnhardt said. “That is the same deal he had with Jeff (Gordon) is that Jeff gave him the helmet and Jeff got the car.  And so, I think that is the same deal I’m going to get with Rick.”

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