In case you missed it, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won this year’s Daytona 500.
My driver is Kasey Kahne (a choice I made by saying whoever won Rookie of the Year the first year I watched NASCAR would be my guy). It’s been a good choice (even though there have been some rough years), and while the Daytona 500 wasn’t good to him, I have a good feeling about this year… but I digress.
Junior has the fortune/misfortune of being the son of the greatest (or maybe #2) stock car driver of all time. He’s ridden that to some great highs (twice winning the Busch series driving for his dad’s team), and some incredibly lows (two multiple year winless streaks that have haunted him). I think personally though that he’s handled it all well, and this win is I think the beginning of him coming out of his father’s shadow.
The thing is, I really get what it’s like to be Junior.
My dad started and sold a company during the first bubble at first bubble valuations. My aunt got him a t-shirt that translated the price to Turkish lira, and given the ratio was $1:1mil TL at the time, it was a huge number.
All I knew growing up was science and technology were going to open the doors for me to do the same thing. I never considered anything else except computer science/electrical engineering as a profession. I loved economics, french, and the film class I used to sneak into with Jordan, but those were never going to be a profession. At most, they’d be a hobby.
And there has been a really long lull where I felt like this was an awful choice. I would never find a way out of that shadow. And I don’t know that I’m out yet, but it’s really starting to feel like the possibility is there. And it’s really uplifting. And it’s really terrifying. But mainly, it’s exciting.
It’s a long and lonely thing a father’s shadow. But the other side is a story of a journey well traveled, and a life well lived.