hal needham

Dale Jr. Download: Pranks in the NASCAR garage have a long history

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Martin Truex Jr.‘s crew chief, Cole Pearn, told Jimmie Johnson that one way to make up for the accident on the last lap at the Charlotte Roval was to buy the No. 78 crew road bikes. When a crew member saw Johnson returning to Dover on Friday, he jokingly inquired if Johnson was on one of the bikes that the No. 78 would receive.

That got Johnson and his team thinking.

Johnson had his motorhome driver go to Walmart and buy bikes for the No. 78 team – but not the ones they might have expected. He filled the lift gate on the back of Truex’s hauler with kids’ bikes.

That led Dale Earnhardt Jr. to send out a request for memories of special pranks throughout the history of NASCAR, which he shared on this week’s edition of the Dale Jr. Download.

Richard Petty’s legendary crew chief and cousin Dale Inman factored heavily in the memories.

“Chocolate Myers from (Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s) team bungie-corded a port-a-john closed at North Wilkesboro with Dale Inman in it,” Earnhardt said. “Chocolate had to hide from Inman for about a month. And Dale Inman was genuinely upset – like wanted to cause physical harm.”

On another occasion, car owner and Hollywood producer Hal Needham got into the act.

“Hal Needham got a Shakespearian actor-friend to walk around the Charlotte garage dressed as a voodoo doctor placing curses on cars,” Earnhardt said. “Dad thought it was a trip, Dale Inman freaked the hell out. Dale Inman went to NASCAR to have the guy ejected out of the garage.”

For more, watch the video above.

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‘Stroker Ace’ star Burt Reynolds dies at 82


Burt Reynolds, the actor know for the “Smokey and the Bandit” film series and the 1983 NASCAR movie “Stroker Ace,” has died at the age of 82.

Reynolds played the titular NASCAR driver in “Stroker Ace,” which also featured cameos by Dale Earnhardt, Kyle Petty, Harry Gant and Ricky Rudd.

The movie, along with the “Bandit” films and Reynold’s “The Cannonball Run,” was directed by stuntman Hal Needham. Needham and Reynolds were NASCAR owners from 1981 to 1989, co-owning Gant’s No. 33 Skoal Bandit car, named for the character Reynold’s portrayed in the first two “Bandit” films.

Reynolds also starred in “Deliverance,” “The Longest Yard” and was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for 1997’s “Boogie Nights.”