Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kept Concussions Secret to Keep Racing
NASCAR’s (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired from racing last year after he failed to completely recover from a concussion in 2016. In an upcoming autobiographical book, he reveals that the 2016 incident was only the latest in a number of concussions he suffered over the years. Earnhardt estimates that he has had 20 to 25 concussions throughout his career.
Aside from detailing his concussion stories, Earnhardt Jr.’s book “Racing to the Finish: My Story,” also describes the incapacitating concerns and lack of support that drivers like him experience when they have a brain injury caused by their job.
The third-generation NASCAR driver, who followed in the NASCAR racing footsteps of his father and grandfather–Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Ralph Earnhardt, respectively–said that he kept the symptoms of his concussions secret because he feared how it would impact his career.
“Your brain is your computer and people don’t have the faith in it healing like a broken bone,” Earnhardt said in an interview.
“At first, I don’t think I even really understood why I started doing it. This sounds morbid, but when I look back now, I realize that what I was doing was leaving a trail for others to discover in case something happened to me that kept me from being able to tell them myself,” he wrote in his book.
Earnhardt has promised to donate his brain to science when he dies. He adds that he is very much aware of the possible aftermath of his concussions, and remains worried about his own future.