NASCAR: Teresa Tarnishing the Dale Earnhardt Legacy Yet Again

Photo Credit: USA Today
Photo Credit: USA Today /
Photo Credit: USA Today
Photo Credit: USA Today /

The one thing you get from your family that cannot be taken away from you is your name. Teresa Earnhardt, who married the name, is punishing the Earnhardt family again.

In a story by Bob Pockrass on it details that Teresa Earnhardt has taken legal action against the late Dale Earnhardt’s son Kerry and his wife Rene from using his birth given last name in his own home design business. Now this is not the first time she has done this to the former racecar driver son of the seven-time Winston Cup Campion. This is actually an appeal of an original ruling against her where Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Daughter of Dale Sr., VP and co-owner of Jr Motorsports, testified that there has been no confusion with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his brothers business.

During the trial Teresa herself did not testify, and there was no proof shown that there was any confusion between the two. The arguments were based around potential confusion with the use of the name. That is where the testimony of Kelley Earnhardt Miller came into play as she is behind brother Dale Jr’s business and marketing empire. If anyone would have an concern about confusion with the name it would be her, as she has grown Dale Jr’s name in several different entities. There are Dale Jr. food brands, restaurants and countless others.

Kerry Earnhardt is the son of Dale Sr. and his first wife Latane. After Dale’s divorce in 1970 Kerry went to live with his mother and was eventually adopted by his stepfather Jack Key. He took the name Key and was virtually estranged from his famous racing father. At the age of 16 Kerry and his father rekindled their relationship that eventually led to Kerry re-assuming his rightful family name, Earnhardt.

Kerry has been racing most of his life with most of his success on short tracks early in his career. He drove briefly for Richard Childress, owner for the majority of his fathers racing career, and was at best a journeyman in NASCAR’s top three series. He was employed by Dale Earnhardt Inc, Dale Sr.’s race team, as a driver development instructor until his step mother Teresa let him go as she wound down DEI’s racing operation.

Since his retirement from full time racing, Kerry and his wife have developed a home design business that has spread throughout several states. Under the banner of Schumacher Homes, Kerry and his wife have developed a brand of there own and looked to market it under their own name. It is when they went to trademark “Earnhardt Collection” that Teresa got involved and filed a challenge with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Teresa has been aggressively protecting the name Earnhardt since Dale Sr’s tragic death through litigation as Dale Sr was on the forefront of trademarking in NASCAR. He was one of the first to widely market his own merchandise at the track and opened up the eyes of NASCAR and those in the sport of the potential revenue from merchandise sales. Having all but scuttled DEI racing capacities, her main source of revenue from the Earnhardt estate has to be the merchandise and marketing. Dale Sr merchandise is still to this day one of the most popular in the sport.

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The tensions between Teresa Earnhardt and the children from Dale’s previous wives has was highlighted by Dale Jr’s power struggle and eventual departure from DEI. Those tensions culminated with the struggles regarding the number 8. Since that time Teresa was rarely at the track and actually once called a “Deadbeat Owner” by Kevin Harvick. Her handing of the race teams, mergers and sales have been a constant sore subject with the fans of Dale Sr.

A quick browse through the DEI website actually shows nothing of the teams most winning driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.. The companies apparent direction seems to be all about Dale Earnhardt Sr. and his legacy as a driver. So why would she be objecting to his son marketing custom homes and furniture? Unless the houses or couches are shaped in the number three, where is the confusion?

The children of the late Dale Earnhardt are constantly reminded of their father death, yet they handle it with pride, dignity and honor. The frustration of them with Teresa are normally kept private, but a situation like this needs to be made public. Kerry Earnhardt has every right to use his last name for his own endeavors, that is his birthright. I wish Teresa could use the class Kelley Earnhardt Miller did when describing Kerry as “my brother”, not half brother as she could have. Its a lesson Teresa could learn and begin to heal the wounds of many. The Earnhardt’s are a family and should treat each other as such.