NASCAR's Most Popular Driver is acknowledged for his contributions to the sport.
LAS VEGAS – For Dale Earnhardt Jr., winning the 2014 Myers Brothers Award came as a complete surprise.
“This doesn’t even seem real,” Earnhardt said on the stage of the Encore Ballroom. “The truth is I’m extremely humbled by this award but I share it on so many levels…I love this sport, I love the history of this sport and I’m excited about its future.”
The National Motorsports Press Association’s Myers Brothers Award, which was named in honor of former NASCAR drivers Billy and Bobby Myers, recognizes individuals for their contributions to the sport, has been presented to recipients since 1958.
After Earnhardt, 40, had the opportunity to reflect, NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver acknowledged that the award “really wasn’t on the radar” for him. Earnhardt, who finished eighth in the Sprint Cup point standings, called the moment "very emotional". Knowing the list of earlier recipients –which he described as “people who built this sport one brick at a time”, Earnhardt was humbled by the experience.
“I was happy and proud of myself and proud of JR Motorsports and we’ve done a lot of good things but it wasn’t on my radar,” Earnhardt said. “It’s an incredible honor. It’s a different award from anything else in the sport. You get voted by your peers and your friends because of what you were able to bring to the table. It’s a feeling of being an asset to something and being important and feeling like someone values who you are and what you are.
“I thought that the Martinsville win was at the top, but this Myers Brothers Award is overwhelming. Just unbelievable. I can’t wait to call my family. I can’t wait to go home and talk to all my friends, all our employees at JR Motorsports because they had a big role in us being voted in today. I’m looking forward to seeing everybody.”
Despite his contributions to the sport through JRM whether it’s the drivers such as Brad Keselowski, Danica Patrick and Chase Elliott that his company has developed or following his father’s example with Make-A-Wish where his 235 visits ranks Earnhardt among the top five all-time athletes for donating his time or the nearly $920,000 the Dale Jr. Foundation has distributed to 70 different charities, he could still imagine Earnhardt Sr. telling him the accolade came just a bit too soon.
“He probably would have derailed the whole thing, ‘he don’t deserve that, not yet, don’t give it to him yet, he’s only 40,’” Earnhardt said with a laugh.
But it’s clear that Earnhardt derives an equal amount of pleasure from his philanthropic activities. For Earnhardt, the time spent with the children has been inspirational.
I did a lot of meet-and-greets early in my career and I got to understand exactly how powerful that experience is and what an honor it is.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“A lot of the things that I do, that the other drivers do, are handed down from the generation before us and that’s what Make-A-Wish was to me,” Earnhardt said. “My father was a big advocate for Make-A-Wish. He was always doing the meet-and-greets with the kids.
“It’s just like Richard Petty set the standard for time you spend with the fans. If a fan asks you for an autograph when you’re walking through the garage, you stop and you give it. Dad and other drivers set the standards for others like myself to carry on that tradition. So I did a lot of meet-and-greets early in my career and I got to understand exactly how powerful that experience is and what an honor it is.
“You get to learn more and more about Make-A-Wish and you get to understand all these opportunities and the list of things they can do. They basically offer them, ‘here’s the list, this is everything, we’ll take you here, we’ll take you there, whatever you want to do.’ And for those kids to pass on all the things that I know are available and come to a race track to meet me is unbelievable.”