The airplane crash involving Dale Earnhardt Jr. shook the racing community last week.
If you haven’t heard, Earnhardt’s private plane carrying his wife and daughter, two pilots and himself crashed off the runway at Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Tennessee. All five occupants and Earnhardt’s dog made it out safely before the plane burst into flames. They were given medical attention and are overall fine, but Earnhardt’s back is heavily bruised and swollen.
The crash was captured by multiple CCTV cameras, which allowed investigators to determine that the right-side main landing gear collapsed after a second or third heavy “bounce” as the plane attempted to land.
Earnhardt and his wife are just now starting to become active on social media again since the incident. Amy shared a photo of her daughter giving her a kiss with the caption, “God is good.”
Earnhardt plans to race the Xfinity Series race at Darlington this weekend. He released a statement on social media that read: “Amy and I want to thank everyone who has lifted us up with phone calls, messages and prayer since last Thursday,” the statement reads. “We are truly blessed that all on board escaped with no serious injuries, including our daughter, our two pilots and our dog Gus. With respect to the investigation, we will not be speculating or discussing the cause of the accident. I am thankful for the quick response of my pilots, local law enforcement, emergency personnel and hospital staff. Lastly, Amy and I continue to be very appreciative of the privacy extended to us to process everything. It has been important to do that together and on our own time.”
The crash really brought up the reality of flying in the world of NASCAR.
These drivers not only have a dangerous job, but they spend a lot of their year in the air. Not only do they fly to different tracks each week, but they also fly to events, promotions and their own personal vacation spots.
The flight to Bristol from Charlotte isn’t long at all — as a matter of fact, the trip is only three hours by car. Bob Pockrass asked Brad Keselowski why drivers fly when there’s such a short drive and his answer was basically because it allows them more time at home.
“It’s a work-life balance,” Keselowski said. “That’s the reality of it. We’re trying to be dads and be husbands — good dads and good husbands — and trying to leverage the privileges we have to do just that. That’s probably the easiest way I could answer it. I flew up this morning, I landed at the same airport. Flew right over [Earnhardt’s} plane. And by staying home last night, I got to have dinner with my daughter. Her grandparents got to come over. That’s a big deal. We don’t get many nights like that.”
Kyle Busch said he owns the same plane as Earnhardt, as well.
I have no idea what it’s like to fly in — much less own — a private jet. But if I were in their shoes, I would probably choose flying, too. This isn’t the first time NASCAR drivers and their families have been in a plane crash. Unfortunately, some of the others (Hendrick Motorsports family members and employees and also Davey Allison) weren’t so fortunate as to live to tell the story.
But thank God the Earnhardts are OK and recovering well.
There are only two races left until the playoffs begin; however, the Cup is off this weekend.