It has been close to two years since Dale Earnhardt Jr. started working on the world-famous vintage Chevrolet Nova that his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr, raced in the 1980 Bush Grand National Series. That incredible car was not in his possession until April 2019. That’s when he first acquired it – and it took him quite some time to take it for a public drive on the back roads to JR Motorsports.
After a long couple of months, Earnhardt Jr. has finally tested his father’s car and is now taking the proper steps to restore it. He wants the car to be ready for the NASCAR Throwback Weekend, which will take place in the early days of May. The plan is to lead the pace laps driving this car on May 8 at the NASCAR Xfinity Series event.
His father was a three-time Darlington winner and drove twice the GM Goodwrench Number 8 to Victory Lane, that same circuit that later became the Xfinity Series. Dale Jr. first talked about this car on his podcast, Dale Jr. Download, back in April 2019. That’s when we all first learned that he found his father’s 1984 Goodrich No. 8.
Before Earnhardt Jr. took possession, the car was used in a wide variety of vintage races. It also took part in the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The car was bought by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, for a total sum of $190,000.
At first, there were some doubts regarding whether this car was in fact the one Earnhardt Sr. once drove back in the 80s. Fortunately, he had all the proof he needed when he found visual evidence. There were hammer-pounding marks on the floorboard, a known tactic used by his father.
I am excited for people to hear the newest Dale Jr. Download podcast featuring @12WillPower. Will was great, but I also get to tell you about this car I recently acquired. It’s an amazing story all the way up to how I discovered it was truly legit.— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) April 24, 2019
LISTEN: https://t.co/XvpRjnG4EH pic.twitter.com/YSn5dfz7Tt
Further evidence was found by using old photographs from the late 1980s. Earnhardt Jr. found the very same uneven holes that his father drilled on the car before taking a picture with him decades ago.
While the restoration project is almost finished, there’s still some work left to do. Once that’s done and out of the way, the plan is to take the 1980s car to a Cup track for demonstration laps. The two-year process presented certain difficulty, as Earnhardt explained he wanted to “make sure the car was set up” so that it “drives like it’s supposed to”. The aesthetic factor is important as well, as Dale Jr. wanted the car to “look good” while it drove.
Even though several parts came into play in this restoration project, Earnhardt Jr. found it easier than he expected to finish it. As he explained, “the rear end doesn’t have any adjustments” not only that, Earnhardt said, but also that certain things “bolt right in”.
While the back part was easy, the front, fortunately, was no different. Dale Jr. explained he made certain changes but most of it “was automatic and fell into place”.
It won’t be long until we get to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. driving in his dad’s car, sometime next May.