377 - Cathy Watkins: The Undefeated Earnhardt

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There's nothing like the bond of family. This week Dale Earnhardt Jr. welcomes in his sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller to sit down with their Aunt, Cathy Watkins, for a peek behind the curtain of the Earnhardt story.

From V8 and Sedan street in Kannapolis, NC a motorsports legacy was born. The King of the dirt tracks, Ralph Earnhardt, was tearing up the circuit feeding his family with race wins and working on racecars. Of course, in 1952 came the birth of his son Dale Earnhardt, regarded as one of the best stock car racers of all-time. But before there was a Dale, there was a Cathy. Aunt Cathy wanted to be one of the boys. She loved washing parts in Ralph's backyard racing shop. But soon came womanhood and she was removed from the male-dominated garage. That was a tough pill to swallow. Ya see, Cathy was born into a true passion for racing. A few years later, Cathy was able to show her racing worth in what was then known as "Powder-Puff" races. The all-female races were an added bonus to a local short track racing program. But to an Earnhardt, it was a chance to win. In a span of decade, Cathy went ten-for-ten in Powder Puff events to become the only undefeated Earnhardt.

Cathy gives a personal look into what it was like to grow up in the Earnhardt house in Kannapolis. She details the unrelenting strictness of Ralph Earnhardt and what was expected of them as children. She also reveals that Ralph Earnhardt did more than just work on his own cars, he worked on liquor cars for legendary racer and moonshiner Junior Johnson. Watkins lets us in on details about Ralph's health and the heart attack that caused his untimely death in 1973. She explains how seeing the shop door closed behind the house was crushing.

After Ralph's passing, Dale Earnhardt used his iron-clad work ethic to create opportunities to race. He was a self-made racer that eventually made it to the pinnacle of the sport. That success on track came at the cost of his family life. Two failed marriages and drama created an inconsistent childhood for Dale Jr. and Kelley. The three Earnhardts talk about the complications of family dynamic. They share memories of the fight between Dale's mom Brenda and Dale's wife Teresa and more.

Cathy's racing life didn't end after her ten race wins. She developed a relationship with one of Dale's crew members, Mike Watkins. She shares how they kept the relationship hidden from Dale Earnhardt for a while. The sneaking around led to a long-time marriage and a shared life on the road working souvenir haulers at NASCAR tracks and on the road for the Earnhardt family. Working at the track, Cathy developed a true passion for conversing with race fans. Oh, except that one time they said ugly things about her brother. That's a story you have to hear!

OPEN SEGMENT

Before Aunt Cathy came into the studio, Dale Jr..and sister Kelley chatted about about:

  • The NASCAR Xfinity Series dust-up on track between JR Motorsports driver Sam Mayer and Joe Gibbs Racing driver Ty Gibbs. They detail the fight that followed on pit road.
  • Dale's enjoyment back behind the wheel at Martinsville.
  • What's going on with the Cup cars on short tracks?

ASKJR Presented by Xfinity

Hannah Newhouse hits Dale Jr. with fan questions talking about:

  • JR Motorsports Late Model boys racing with Layne Riggs at Greenville Pickens
  • Having Isla and Nicole at the track watching daddy race.
  • Noah's White Claw, getting to like beer and developing Sun Drop and Vodka drinks.
  • Should Ty Gibbs have taken off his helmet to fight?
  • Five tracks Dale Jr. would want to race on more than once a year. Including a cryptic North Wilkesboro mention. Hmm.

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395 episodes