Dale Earnhardt Jr. Shares the Horrifying Feeling of Knowing You’re About to Crash
Bubba Wallace’s scary wreck brought back memories for Little E.
Imagine you’re driving a race car. It’s going very fast and suddenly, you lose control. Or your brakes go out. It’s immediately clear that the only thing that will stop your car is another car, or a wall. What’s going through your mind in those tense few seconds?
“But in that rare situation that Bubba described where something breaks and you’ve got time to think, like you’re heading toward this wall at 180 miles an hour and you’re gonna hammer that damn thing, you don’t know what the result’s gonna be. And you do think about your ability to survive it.
“Are you gonna survive it? Are you gonna die? Are you going to be injured? You would be surprised what all you can cover in a mere couple seconds.”
Earnhardt was elaborating on some thoughts he shared on air over the weekend after driver Bubba Wallace wrecked at the Gander Outdoors 400.
As Wallace explained after the crash, the brakes went out on his Chevrolet and there was nothing he could do as he went careening through the grass and into the wall at full speed.
“It scared the hell out of me. I didn’t know if I was going to remember it when I hit or not,” he said. He was OK though, he said: “We’re good. Bit my cheek, banged my foot off the pedal. I’m okay though. I’ll wake up tomorrow (and) be a little sore, but the safety has come a long way so it’s good to be able to climb out of the car.”
During the broadcast, Earnhardt explained the practical steps Wallace was taking while he was racing toward the wall. “Doing everything he can to figure out a way to knock as much speed out of the car as he can and take the longest route possible to the inevitable impact,” he said.
The worst-possible place to have something go wrong. @BubbaWallace had one of the worst crashes of the year, and we're glad he was able to climb out of his car.#NASCAR #GanderOutdoors400 pic.twitter.com/Nx3wwaWwws
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) July 29, 2018
Earnhardt is very familiar with the risks of crashing. He’s been in some doozies himself over the years, including several wrecks that left him with debilitating concussions. It was those head injuries, and his fear of more, that ultimately drove him into retirement.