Fans Sing Praises as Dale Earnhardt Jr Provides Former Amish Marlin Yoder a Platform for His Story

Published 04/17/2024, 8:00 PM EDT

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It was back in 2018 that the news broke about two cousins, Marlin Yoder and Reuben Kauffman, who grew up in Wisconsin in the Amish religion, had left their home to work in NASCAR. They secretly used to tune into NASCAR races using a transistor radio hidden in the woods. Passionate right? Captivated, they decided to leave their Amish roots in their teens and chase a new dream in NASCAR.

Fast forward to 2024. Recently, Dale Earnhardt Jr. spotlighted their incredible journey by inviting one of them to share their story on his podcast. The story not only fascinated listeners but also scored big props for Dale Jr. fans who praised him for dropping the spotlight on the behind-the-scenes crew and bringing such an incredible story to the forefront of his show.

From horse buggies to NASCAR pit crews, one of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s favorite stories


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Marlin Yoder also recently shared his incredible journey from an Amish upbringing—without TV, electricity, or radio—to the fast lanes of NASCAR. Fast forward to now, and he got another chance on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s podcast to share his journey. He was captivated by the racing world, and dove headfirst into motorsports, starting his career at local short tracks.

On the podcast, Marlin Yoder and Dale Earnhardt Jr. delved into how he hustled to break into the professional scene, distributing resumes at race shops and working his way up from the lower levels to NASCAR’s premier series.

Raised in the conservative Amish community, known for its emphasis on simplicity and separation from modern society, Marlin Yoder and Reuben Kauffman broke away to chase a dream in the world of NASCAR. Today, they’re turning wrenches for big names like Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman. Marlin Yoder’s story dates back to 2018, when Jeff Gluck, who was exploring the unique backgrounds of those in the racing world at the time, crossed paths with Yoder. At the time, Marlin was working with Zane Smith on the ARCA series.

Yoder opened up to Jeff Gluck and shared, “I was born and raised Amish, and I left the Amish when I was 17, almost 18. We weren’t allowed to follow any sports and could play very few sports. We were allowed to play volleyball but no basketball, no hockey; softball but not baseball. But not racing. That was very looked down upon.”


The Amish, who are part of the Anabaptist movement along with Mennonites and Brethren, traditionally restrict interaction with the outside world, reserving baptism for adults who confess their faith and maintaining a distance from mainstream society. Stepping out of such an environment requires more than a little gumption, but that’s exactly what Yoder and Kauffman did.

While the episode might have been particularly refreshing for Dale Jr. sparking lively discussions with his co-hosts and connecting deeply with the drivers, it was even more captivating for fans. They were all praiseworthy, giving Dale Jr kudos for delivering such engaging and insightful content.

NASCAR fans applaud Junior for bringing up such intriguing stories as that of Marlin Yoder


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Dale Earnhardt Jr really knocked it out of the park with his latest podcast episode with Marlin Yoder. He kicked off the episode with a teaser on his Twitter account that instantly grabbed everyone’s attention, “There’s TV shows about this and we’re curious as to What goes behind that decision or how do you make that decision to leave the community, but then… You know, you’re severing these… very strong relationships with your parents and your siblings and friends. And you make that choice and there’s no turning back. And not only that, he leaves knowing very little to nothing about racing and NASCAR.

“And in a very short time. ends up becoming the front-end mechanic on one of the best teams in the sport and wins the championship! He’s gonna come in here and tell us all about it. So let’s go ahead and get Marlin in the room. You been? Beat up on him. Street-style guys around here with that car yours.” The teaser set fans on fire with excitement, leading them to flood Dale Jr. with praise.


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Fans were quick to show their appreciation online. One fan exclaimed, “This was tremendous. What a story, can’t imagine how difficult it must’ve been for Marlin to risk everything — literally his entire life — not knowing what was on the other side.” Another chimed in, “@DaleJr Yoder podcast qualifies for “Podcast of the Year” in any genre.” 

One particularly moved listener shared, “I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a DJD podcast so intently in my life. Thank you for telling your story Marlin.”

Another fan declared it Dale Jr’s best interview yet, saying, “Dang @DaleJr !!! This is your very BEST interview. VERY powerful. Credit Marlon for sharing his story.” 


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The compliments kept rolling: “Definitely one of my favorite episodes also. Such a motivating and cool story!” “Great episode! Marlin’s story was so interesting! I can’t even imagine being Amish and leaving into a whole new world. So happy it all worked out for Marlin and he is successful,” and “Incredible podcast! Thank you so much for sharing Marlin’s life experiences! What a remarkable person he is! 🏁😊❤️”

Well, did you catch the podcast yet? Drop your thoughts and let us know what you think!


Written by:

Neha Dwivedi


One take at a time

Neha Dwivedi is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. As a journalist, she religiously believes in the power of research, which allows her readers to dive deep into her stories and experience the detailed nuances of the sport like never before. Being proficient with Core Sport and Live Event Coverage, she has written multiple copies on the top entities of Stock Car Racing, like Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, and Tony Stewart.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta