“Powder Puff Derby” – When the Late Martha Earnhardt Recalled Her One-Off Race Car Experience

Published 12/29/2021, 5:15 AM EST
NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his grandmother, Martha Earnhardt, stand in front of his new Elvis car Monday, Aug. 13, 2007 at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Nathan Morgan)


The Earnhardt name is synonymous with NASCAR. Most of us know that Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Ralph Earnhardt were NASCAR drivers. However, Martha Earnhardt, the mother of Dale Earnhardt, had also tried her hand at driving a race car.

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Martha, who recently passed away at the age of 91, had once indeed revved up a race car in a competitive fixture.

She explained how it was a one-time affair, in a “powder puff derby” race at Hickory Speedway. Owing to the lack of practice, which she herself admitted later, she crashed in the all-women race.

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“That was my one and only,” she described her racing experience.

“It didn’t work. I just wasn’t meant to be a race-car driver.”

Well, if she didn’t have the racing genes, it was all right, because her son and her grandson ended up creating one of the most impactful and successful legacies in the history of NASCAR.

However, it doesn’t mean she didn’t play a role in their success.

Martha Earnhardt was the biggest supporter of her son and her grandson

Martha Earnhardt recalled the time she watched her son finally tick the Daytona 500 winner box from his illustrious career. “I was home watching, and I was cheering and crying at home just like I would if I had been there,” she said.

“Dale called me from winner’s circle and that made me feel real good. He said, “Mom! I finally won the Daytona 500! I said, ‘Yeah, son, I saw you did!’ For the last 10 laps, I walked the floor. I would sit down, I’d get up, I’d sit down. … I couldn’t stay sitting down until I knew he had won it. It was just a really great feeling because I knew how hard and how long he has tried to win and how close he has come.”

As for Dale Jr., she admitted she had initial doubts about his career – “I didn’t think he was ready,” she told AP in 1998.

However, after Jr.’s debut, she knew she was wrong.

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“Boy, he’s proved me wrong. He’s really something special.”

In her life, Martha Earnhardt played the role of a great mother, a wife, and a grandmother. Whether we see it or not, her contribution to the success of the Earnhardt dynasty is unquestionable.

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May she rest in peace and may the Earnhardt family have strength in this tough time.

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Shaharyar

472 articles

Shaharyar is a Formula 1 & NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Journalism from Amity University, he has been a passionate follower of motorsports for better part of the decade. A Max Verstappen and Ferrari supporter, he dreams of a pairing of the two in future.

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