Kelley Earnhardt

Jamie Squire /Allsport

Dale Earnhardt Jr. shares story on ‘Days of Thunder’ role his father apparently wouldn’t play

Leave a comment

Portrayed as the “Man in Black” and viewed by many NASCAR fans as the bad guy, there was one role Dale Earnhardt Sr. apparently didn’t want to play.

Rowdy Burns in “Days of Thunder.’’

As Dale Earnhardt Jr. told the story Friday at Daytona International Speedway, he admitted he wasn’t sure it was true.

Earnhardt Jr. reflected upon the movie, which debuted in June 1990, and put NASCAR on a national stage in a way it hadn’t before. Sure, there had been “Stroker Ace’’ in 1983 – Dale Earnhardt Sr. appeared in that movie as himself – but nothing like “Days of Thunder,’’ which featured Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall.

Earnhardt Jr. recalled when members of the “Days of Thunder’’ film crew came to meet with his father.

“Now this is all heresy because nobody was in the room,’’ Earnhardt Jr. said as a preamble to his story, “but dad and I guess the director/producer and (Tom) Cruise. But Tom Cruise comes over to the deerhead shop, (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) hadn’t been built yet. We’re excited. We’re going to meet Tom Cruise. We were giddy. Me and (sister) Kelley.

“(Cruise) comes in and he’s about a foot shorter than I thought he would be. They go into dad’s office and they come out 30 minutes later, and so I guess they’re picking dad’s brain, but the rumor was that they offered dad the role of Rowdy Burns. I don’t know if that was really true or not, but that was kind of the rumor, but dad turned it down because he didn’t want to play the bad guy. Just a rumor. I don’t know if it’s true or not.’’

Earnhardt Jr. was asked if he ever talked to his dad about that story.

“I was so young,’’ Earnhardt Jr. said. “You hear the rumor later and I never really did get the chance to figure out if it was true or not. Hard to believe if it was true.

“I thought the movie was fun, great. I was a big Robert Duvall fan because I loved the miniseries “Lonesome Dove” when it came out and he’s just great in anything. I liked him being in it and thought he did an awesome job. I thought it was a fun movie.’’

 and on Facebook

Darlington Raceway to honor Dale Earnhardt Sr. on Sept. 2

Allsport /Allsport
2 Comments

Darlington Raceway will pay tribute to Dale Earnhardt Sr. and the 30th anniversary of his 1987 Southern 500 win in a special tribute: An Evening Honoring Dale Earnhardt Sr.

The event will be held Sept. 2., the night before the Southern 500.

The event will feature a panel sharing stories about the seven-time champion. The panel will include Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Kerry Earnhardt and car owner Richard Childress.

An Evening Honoring Dale Earnhardt Sr. will take place in the driver’s meeting tent in the Cup garage from 7:30 – 9 p.m. ET, following the conclusion of the Southern 500 parade. NBC broadcaster Rick Allen will emcee the event.

Tickets are $87, which includes two beverage coupons, light hors d’oeuvres and a 1:24 scale Dale Earnhardt Jr. throwback No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS diecast. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.DarlingtonRaceway.com or calling 843-395-8802. A grandstand ticket or infield admission to Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 is required for purchase.

“We are extremely grateful to Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Kerry Earnhardt and Richard Childress for supporting this tribute event and sharing Dale Earnhardt Sr. stories for our fans and industry stakeholders that will be in attendance,” Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp said in a statement. “We look forward to honoring one of NASCAR’s most popular champions and Hall of Fame members. Dale Earnhardt Sr. had a fondness for Darlington Raceway, so it’s only fitting that one of the most intimidating tracks on the circuit would host an event recognizing ‘The Intimidator.’ ”

Earnhardt won nine Cup races at Darlington, second only to David Pearson’s 10 career victories there. Earnhardt also won three Xfinity races there.

The tribute to Earnhardt is a part of Darlington Raceway’s throwback weekend, which celebrates the 1985-89 era.

 and on Facebook