If reviving North Wilkesboro Speedway wasn't enough to knock 'em in the feels, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is pulling out all stops with the car he's driving.
Junior is bringing into today's eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series finale (3 p.m. ET on FOX) the paint-scheme of his grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt. Ralph was the patriarch of the Earnhardt racing dynasty and crowned the 1956 NASCAR Sportsman champion. He died in 1973.
The paint-scheme selection by Dale Jr. isn't just maximizing the moment -- it's owning it. North Wilkesboro Speedway hasn't held a NASCAR-sanctioned event in more than two decades. It was home to 93 NASCAR Cup races between 1949 and '96. Despite its dormancy and decay, last winter Dale Jr. collaborated with iRacing to clean up the track and prepare it for laser-mapping so that it can be revived in the virtual world. The project was documented by Dirty Mo Media in its original short doc "Bringing Back Wilkesboro" (see below).
While historically inspired and classically replicated, Dale Jr.'s paint scheme isn't just a homage to the past but also a nod to the future. The sponsor on the hood and quarter panels is "Lost Speedways on Peacock" -- a television series currently in production by Dirty Mo Media and set for a mid-July launch on NBC Universal's new streaming network Peacock TV. The show centers around Earnhardt's passion for old, abandoned racetracks. He sends his crew on various expeditions to locate these tracks and uncover their mysteries, including some that involve his own family. The show is executive produced by Dale Jr., Mike Davis and Matthew Dillner -- the same group that brings you The Dale Jr. Download podcast each week.
"Anyone who spent their childhood frequenting their local racetrack understands the bond one develops for that track," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Lost Speedways recognizes that special relationship between a person and his/her local track and celebrates it. We go find the tracks and talk to the people who made them great. It's the show I have wanted to make for a long time, and while I can't share details about the episodes quite yet, I can tell you every one of them exceeded my expectations."
Aside from the FOX broadcast, fans can watch Dale Jr.'s race at North Wilkesboro via his personal Twitch channel. A video archive of his past livestream videos can be found here. To watch and engage with No. 8 crew chief Steven Steffen, go here.