DEI unveils impressive complex to the masses By Marty Smith NASCAR Online MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 9, 1999) Dale Earnhardt, left, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. share the podium at Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s grand opening. Dale Earnhardt joined his...
DEI unveils impressive complex to the masses By Marty Smith NASCAR Online
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 9, 1999) Dale Earnhardt, left, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. share the podium at Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s grand opening. Dale Earnhardt joined his drivers: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Steve Park and Ron Hornaday and hoards of NASCAR fans Tuesday in officially opening the doors of Dale Earnhardt Inc. -- a monstrous 110,000-square-foot monument to excellence -- to the public.
The spacious building has been in use by Park's No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet operation for quite some time, but for the most part fans haven't been able to participate.
Now they can. On Tuesday, DEI announced the opening of an 8,700-square-foot showroom and retail store, ending three years of anxious waiting by the devoted fanatics of Earnhardt's No. 3 Chevrolet.
"We're real proud of what we've got here," said Earnhardt to a roar of cheers from the masses. "This all came from driving that No. 3 car, and it looks like it worked out pretty well. We've done a lot of things, and it's all because of that 3 car. In my life, it's God, Teresa and then that 3 car, because it's been really good to me. That's why we're where we are today."
The public entrance sports an impressive glass rotunda with a 31-foot ceiling. Upon entering the building, fans are welcomed by the black No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Lumina that Earnhardt drove to the 1994 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship. Behind the championship ride stand huge black-and-white photos of Earnhardt, Jr., Park and Hornaday. Black vases containing tall arrangements of red, tropical flowers add to the building's uniqueness.
Exhibits in the showroom include trophies from throughout Earnhardt's career, including his seven NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship trophies. This marks the first time any of Earnhardt's trophies or memorabilia from his lifelong career have been displayed for public access. Also included in the showroom are trophies won by Jr., Park and Hornaday; a photographic look at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. -- "Behind the Scenes;" and vintage trophies won during the late Ralph Earnhardt's successful racing career that preceded that of his famous son.
When planning the gorgeous facility, Earnhardt and wife Teresa were focused on fan accessibility. Now complete, it is obvious that they achieved that goal in fine fashion.
"You try to do everything you can to allow the fans to see what's going on, what's happening, what really goes on here," Earnhardt said. "I'd really love for them to just be able to walk through the shop, but that's impossible when we're trying to work, so we tried to make a great viewing area where they can come in, see what's going on. It's tough to open it all up, but we've done pretty good."
Earnhardt has been dreaming of this day for quite some time. He bought the land for the project back in 1985, and has since been planning to build a one-of-a-kind spectacle. Now, some 15 years later he has erected what is unquestionably the most modernized race shop in all of NASCAR racing. In short, he's created a racing Mecca.
"A lot has happened in the past several years here," Earnhardt said. "It's taken about three years to get it to a point where we could even have a grand opening. I bought this property back in '84 I think, and Teresa and I really laid out a shop here on this site. We wanted to build it then, but it took several years to really get the program going like I wanted.
"When we started building it, it grew more and more. Now, we're building another building in support of Dale Jr. and that (Budweiser Chevrolet) team. So who knows where it's gonna stop?"
That is quite an intriguing question for Earnhardt. DEI has experienced vast expansion in 1999 -- along with the showroom and retail store, Jr.'s 70,000 square-foot NASCAR Winston Cup Series building is near completion. A private dining room is also expected to be fully operational before the end of the year.
"When we started off in Kannapolis in a little office, I don't know that I thought we'd end up here," said Earnhardt, contemplating what he'd accomplished. "We moved to a brick house and then years later started building this big monster. We've had a lot of help along the way, and now we've made it. We've built a dream."