Coffee With Kyle with Ned and Dale Jarrett Part 2: Ned will never forget Fireball Roberts tragedy

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Here’s Part 2 of this week’s edition of Coffee With Kyle, featuring NBC Sports’ NASCAR analyst Kyle Petty interviewing NASCAR Hall of Famers and father and son Ned Jarrett and Dale Jarrett.

Both men remembered the fateful day in 1964 when Glenn “Fireball” Roberts was involved in a horrific crash at Charlotte Motor Speedway that eventually took his life more than a month later.

It was on May 24, 1964, during the World 600 race that Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson were racing each other, vying for position when they got tangled in a wreck. In most cases, it would have been considered a typical racing crash. But this one was so much different.

Here’s how Ned Jarrett described it:

I remember Fireball had shared with me that he was going to retire at the end of the year,” Ned Jarrett told Petty. “He had not publicly made that announcement, but he was going to become a spokesperson for Falstaff Beer for $50,000 a year, which is a lot of money.

Junior and I were racing side-by-side going into Turn 1 and there’s a bump between Turns 1 and 2. Junior was on the inside, hit that bump, hit me and I spun to the inside of the racetrack while Junior spun to the outside. When I hit the wall, it burst the gas tank open. As I skidded down the wall, there was a spark and the gas caught on fire, so the car was on fire. Then, something caused Fireball to spin into me and his gas tank burst open as well, so all hell broke loose. We landed about 30 feet apart. I got out of my car and the wheels were still turning on his car. It landed on its top. I saw him trying to get out so I ran over and tried to pull him out.

He was wearing a custom made uniform. It had zippers on the sleeves and up the sides and looked very nice, but if you tried to pull it off in a hurry, we both got our hands burned from the heat on the zippers (of his firesuit). We had it basically torn off while it was burning on him. The rescue squad got there and I just turned it over to them, not thinking that it was that bad. I knew he had some burns and I had some burns on my hands and face, but it wasn’t okay and it finally took his life. It was a sad day for the sport.”

Dale Jarrett (R) and Ned Jarrett pose after Dale Jarrett won the Indianapolis 400 in Indianapolis, Indiana on August 3, 1996. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Ned Jarrett suffered those burns while trying to rescue Roberts from his race car turned inferno. It’s a memory that has stayed with him, as vivid today as the incident was 55 years ago.

Son Dale also recalled that race, but from a different perspective. Dale was only seven years old and was at the speedway to watch the race.

Here’s what Dale Jarrett remembers about that race, more so about the uncertainty of what happened in that crash and how his father was doing.

I can remember (older brother) Glenn and I were against the fence just coming off Turn 4, where the car was parked,” Dale Jarrett said. “We didn’t see a lot, just dad gone by and keep up with things. The next thing we see is this black smoke on the back straightaway and had no idea of what was going on. It seemed like 30 minutes, probably wasn’t that long, but it was the not knowing part.”

Also part of the interview: Ned Jarrett’s recovery from a horrible crash in a race at Greenville, as well as entering the world of television after hanging up his racing firesuit.

Check out the interview in the video above.

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Coffee with Kyle: Ned and Dale Jarrett discuss family’s racing beginnings

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Ned Jarrett wasn’t raised in a racing family.

He was brought up in the saw mill town of Newton, North Carolina, and became fond of racing after his father Homer took him to races in North Wilkesboro and Charlotte.

The 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee and his son Dale Jarrett recounted their family’s racing origins in the latest edition of Kyle Petty’s “Coffee with Kyle.”

“When they started building the Hickory Speedway it was a big thing in the community,” Ned Jarrett told Petty. “You’d go down to the country story and all those farmers and saw millers were sitting around … and they’d say, ‘Boy, wait until they get that thing built. I’ll go up there and show them how to drive.’

“So I worked it out.”

Jarrett was present in the first race held at the short track in 1951, thanks to him winning half-interest in a car through a poker game.

Though he failed to let his dad know.

“My dad was a well-respected man in the community,” Jarrett said. “He shouldn’t see where his son is participating with that group of people.”

“That group” included various bootleggers.

Jarrett kept racing and left his father in the dark through a scheme where he would compete under his racing partner’s name. That scheme ended when they finally “lucked up and won a race” and word spread.

“My dad heard about it and he said, ‘Ok, if you’re so determined to drive one of those things use your own name and get credit for any accomplishments that you may have along the way,'” Jarrett said.

By the end of his Hall of Fame career in 1966, Jarrett accumulated 50 Cup wins and two championships (1961, 1965).

In that time he was also raising a family of three, including two sons.

In a vintage Ford promotional video featuring him and his family, Jarrett said his oldest son Glenn “really does not have a desire to become a race driver.” When it came to his middle child, Dale, Ned remarked that he “seems destined to become a race driver.”

Dale was 9 at the time.

“We understood the life and what it was about,” Dale Jarrett said. “In those days they were racing 70-some races a year. It was three and four races a week at times. … When he was there, it was time that we cherished when he was at home.”

Watch the above video for the entire first part of the interview.

NBCSN to reveal nominees for NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020 on Wednesday

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NASCAR America, NBCSN’s daily motorsports show, exclusively announces the nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020, Wednesday, March 13 at 5 p.m. ET.

Wednesday’s one-hour episode of NASCAR America Motormouths will feature in-depth discussions and highlight reels dedicated to the 20 nominees who have made significant advancements to NASCAR. Coverage will also include the announcement of the five nominees for the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR, honoring key individuals who have helped the growth and esteem of the sport.

Marty Snider will host Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, from NBC Sports Group’s NASCAR studio in Charlotte, NC., alongside Hall of Fame drivers Dale Jarrett and Ray Evernham.

NASCAR Hall of Fame voting panel member and NBCSports.com’s lead motorsports writer Nate Ryan also joins Wednesday’s show to share insights and discussions had by the committee during the nomination process.

In addition, Wednesday’s episode of NASCAR America Motormouths will feature opportunities for fans to call in live and speak with Snider, Jarrett, Evernham and Ryan about the 2020 Hall of Fame nominees.

NASCAR AMERICA DEBRIEF – WEDNESDAY AT 6 P.M. ET ON NBC SPORTS YOUTUBE CHANNEL

As a compliment to Wednesday’s telecast of NASCAR America on NBCSN, NBC Sports Digital will present NASCAR America Debrief, a digital exclusive show available on the NBC Sports YouTube Channel, beginning at 6 p.m. ET.

Nate Ryan will host Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America Debrief, and will be joined by Marty Snider, Dale Jarrett and Ray Evernham. NASCAR America Debrief will continue the conversation about Wednesday’s Hall of Fame nominee announcement, with an emphasis on additional viewer and fan engagement.

Coffee with Kyle: Mike Helton opens up about the loss of Dale Earnhardt

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There are “a lot of conversations” from Feb. 18, 2001 that Mike Helton will “probably take to my grave.”

Those conversations resulted in Helton, now NASCAR’s Vice Chairman, revealing to the world that day that Dale Earnhardt had been killed in a wreck on the last lap of the Daytona 500.

“By then I think of most of the industry had figured it out. But we had to authenticate it and make it official,” Helton said in the latest episode of “Coffee with Kyle.”

Mike Helton moments before he announced Dale Earnhardt’s death on Feb. 18, 2001.

“I got picked to do it,” Helton told Kyle Petty. “I said, I used some adult words, ‘But we just lost the biggest thing in our sport. What am I going to say?’

“Brian France or maybe Paul Brooks or somebody said, ‘Well, that’s what you say, we just lost the biggest thing in our sport today.'”

Eighteen years later, Helton thinks he knows “more about what I said later on looking at it than I did at the moment of saying it. Because it was tough.”

In the wake of Earnhardt’s death, Helton said NASCAR leadership recognized how much it relied on The Intimidator’s voice in the garage.

“We couldn’t tap the next Dale Sr. on the shoulder and say, ‘You’re it,'” Helton said. “It needed to be organic out of the garage area. We were kind of settling in to see who that would be. (Jeff) Gordon wasn’t ready to accept it, although people said, ‘You should and you need to.’ But Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte, those individuals banded together to do it as a group instead of an individual until Gordon was ready to be that voice.”

But in the nearly two decades since, Helton said there hasn’t been a driver voice that’s emerged that has been as “strategic and as pragmatic” as that of Earnhardt.

Watch the above video for more of Kyle Petty’s interview with Helton.

NASCAR America begins 6th season today at 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN

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The sixth season of NASCAR America debuts at 5 p.m. ET today on NBCSN with a new look.

Kicking things off for the one-hour show will be the NASCAR on NBC team of Jeff Burton, Steve Letarte and NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett.

The new season of NASCAR America features a number of reimagined features, starting with a new studio. The show’s home has moved from its base the last five seasons in Stamford, Connecticut, to a new studio in Charlotte, North Carolina. The show will air weekdays from 5-6 p.m. ET.

Each weeknight will showcase a different theme focused on the sport of NASCAR, its drivers, teams, fans and the motorsports industry. In addition, select episodes will include opportunities for fans to call in and speak with NASCAR America hosts, analysts, drivers and other guests.

Tonight’s season premiere of NASCAR America will feature discussion among our analysts about Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash (Jimmie Johnson won the rain-shortened race) and Sunday’s 61st edition of the Daytona 500.

NASCAR America Mondays will focus on the previous weekend’s races and include highlights, “Turning Points,” driver interviews, expert analysis, and the signature NASCAR America segment Scan All.

Here’s how the rest of this week’s show lineup looks, with themes that will continue on the same days throughout the season:

Tuesday, February 12

  • NASCAR America Presents The Dale Jr. Download: Every Tuesday, NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver for an unprecedented 15 consecutive years (2003-17) and winner of two Daytona 500s, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@Dalejr) co-hosts NASCAR America with Mike Davis. Produced on-site at Dirty Mo Media Studios in Mooresville, N.C., episodes on Tuesday will expand to one hour, and feature the same unparalleled perspective, candid commentary, and first-person insight of The Dale Jr. Download that fans have come to love.
  • NASCAR America Splash & Go: In addition to NBCSN’s linear telecast on Tuesday of The Dale Jr. Download, NBC Sports Digital will feature multiple editions of NASCAR America Splash & Go segments, featuring the news of the day, breaking news, race shop reports and interviews. NBCSports.com’s lead motorsports writer Nate Ryan (@nateryan) will host Splash & Go digital segments and will be joined by a collection of NASCAR on NBC analysts. NASCAR America Splash & Go will be available on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Wednesday, February 13

  • NASCAR America Presents Motormouths: Hosted by NASCAR on NBC’s Rutledge Wood (@rutledgewood) and Marty Snider (@HeyMartysnider), alongside auto racing icon Kyle Petty (@KylePetty), Motormouths Wednesdays will feature a light-hearted approach to the traditional show, and include regular opportunities for fans to call in to NASCAR America and speak with hosts, analysts, drivers and other guests live on TV.
  • NASCAR America Debrief: As a compliment to Wednesday’s telecast of NASCAR America on NBCSN at 5 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Digital will present NASCAR America Debrief, a digital exclusive show available on the NBC Sports YouTube Channel beginning at 6 p.m. ET. Nate Ryan will host NASCAR America Debrief, and will be joined by select NASCAR on NBC analysts and guests from that day’s linear telecast. NASCAR America Debrief will follow the same light-hearted approach as Motormouths, with an emphasis on additional viewer and fan engagement.

Thursday, February 14

  • NASCAR America Presents The Motorsports Hour: Featuring NASCAR on NBC host Krista Voda (@kristavoda), with NASCAR drivers and analysts A.J. Allmendinger (@AJDinger) and Parker Kligerman (@pkligerman), NASCAR America’s Motorsports Hour on Thursday will highlight the upcoming weekend’s NASCAR races, and also shine a light on the latest news surrounding IndyCar, IMSA, American Flat Track, Supercross, Motorcross, Mecum collector car auctions, and all of motorsports. Additional analysts will include former IndyCar driver Townsend Bell, former IMSA GT driver Calvin Fish, former IndyCar driver Paul Tracy, as well as Motocross and Supercross legend Ricky Carmichael.

NASCAR America’s Fan Fridays will return to NBCSN in July, live from the site of select NASCAR on NBC races, and will be broadcast from NBC Sports’ Peacock Pit box set located on pit road.

NASCAR America is also available on the NBC Sports app – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TV’s.