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Martha Earnhardt (1930–2021), racing family matriarch

by Kirk Fox

Martha Earnhardt was the matriarch of the Earnhardt racing family that includes NASCAR legends Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr.  

Racing family matriarch

Martha Earnhardt was married to race car driver Ralph Earnhardt from 1947 until his death in 1973. They had five children including NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt (1951–2001), who was known as “The Intimidator” and won 76 Winston Cup races. Martha’s grandson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., had 26 NASCAR Cup victories and won the Daytona 500 two times. She raced once in a women-only event at Hickory Speedway.  

Notable Quote 

“I was home watching, and I was cheering and crying at home just like I would if I had been there.” “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.” – She told the Charlotte Observer in 1998 after her son Dale finally won a Daytona 500 after many years  


Tributes to Martha Earnhardt

Full Obituary: ESPN

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