nascar, dale earnhardt jr, retro, story, father and son

The kid in the red cap



Back in November of 1990, I was covering the NASCAR season finale at Atlanta International Raceway. As the day wound down, Dale Earnhardt Sr. had put together another great season and wound up clinching his 4th Winston Cup Crown.

I was photographing the festivities in Victory Lane when I noticed that Dale Earnhardt, and his wife Teresa, with their young daughter Taylor Nicole in her arms, were in the center of the group. Everyone laughed as Taylor Nicole held up her index finger indicating that her dad was #1. I framed the small group and fired away, to preserve the image for posterity. The only thing that bothered me was that there was a boy in a bright red Winston Cup cap standing right in front of the Earnhardt group. He was just tall enough that the red cap stuck up and disrupted the composition of the shot. Oh well, I thought, not much I can do about it. I'll shoot the scene as it is and than do my best to crop the boy out later. And this is just what I did for years.

Then, about 2 years ago, I was going through some old negatives and came across that shot. Once again I though about how the red cap threw the whole photo off. I looked at the one frame that I had shot which included the boy's face and was stopped in my tracks. The boy who I'd been cropping out of the photos for years was none other than a 16-year-old Dale Earnhardt Jr.! At the time I had taken the photo I was not even aware that Dale Earnhardt even had a son, and now that he's one of the most famous sports figures alive, I have a photo of him and his dad celebrating a triumph in the past.

I guess it pays to review your old photos from time to time.

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