If you closely followed the racing career of the late, great NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Sr., then you’ve probably heard at least a couple stories about his third wife Teresa Earnhardt. If you don’t know anything or much about her, then keep on reading, because she’s found herself at the center of more than one controversy. Let’s just say that she probably won’t be earning a NASCAR Hall of Fame induction anytime soon.
Who Is Teresa Earnhardt?
Born Teresa Houston in Hickory, North Carolina, she’s the biological mother of Taylor Nicole Earnhardt and the stepmother of Kerry Earnhardt and JR Motorsports co-owners Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Dale Earnhardt Jr. On top of that, she’s the former president and CEO of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Thought it’s no longer an active racing team, DEI maintains a historical showroom where fans can visit to purchase memorabilia and other goods.
Now, Teresa was actually at the head of the company for a while. She was in charge during four Busch Series championships in ’98, ’99, ’04, and ’05, as well as two Craftsman Truck Series championships in ’96 and ’98. Her very first win as a team owner was at the Daytona 500 in 2001, when Michael Waltrip took the victory in the No. 15 Chevrolet. Unfortunately, this victory was overshadowed by the tragic death of Dale Sr. at Daytona International Speedway on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
By late 2006, Teresa hired Max Siegel as the President of Global Operations for DEI to help expand further into the entertainment industry, and by 2007, DEI had acquired Ginn Racing.
Following her late husband’s death, Teresa was unable to retain sponsorship from Budweiser and the United States Army. Because of that, it led the team to a merger with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2008. Going forward, the name would be Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. They even managed to pull off a win at the Daytona 500 in 2010, courtesy of former stock car racing driver Jamie McMurray. Teresa’s ownership in EGR was absorbed by Chip Ganassi in 2014, after he bought Teresa out of her shares. They soon reverted the name back to Chip Ganassi Racing. This turned out to be a good thing, however, since she could now continue to operate DEI in Mooresville, North Carolina.
There were several issues that made themselves known within the company. For one, Teresa and her stepson Junior already had a rocky relationship. Well, around 2007, he cut his relationship off with her completely after he announced that he would not be returning to DEI for the 2008 season, leaving the NASCAR team for Hendrick Motorsports. The reason behind it was that they were unable to reach an agreement that worked for both himself and his three siblings, who claimed equal rights to the business.
Additionally, there was more conflict in 2016, when Teresa sued Kerry Earnhardt for using the Earnhardt name in his business venture. He and his wife were planning on marketing a line of homes and furniture with the name “The Earnhardt Collection,” however, Teresa won the appeal. Today, she has an estimated net worth of $50 million.
Needless to say, Teresa Earnhardt has found herself at the center of plenty of controversy over the years.
This post was originally published on August 6, 2020.