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DEI to place major emphasis on Dale Sr.'s legacy

Dale Earnhardt Inc. is planning a series of events at its campus in Mooresville, N.C., that reflect the late driver's personality and lifestyle, much the same way Graceland offers an insight into the life of Elvis.

A new leadership team, put in place less than two months ago by company CEO and Earnhardt's widow, Teresa Earnhardt, is working to resuscitate the DEI brand since it merged its Sprint Cup racing operations with Chip Ganassi Racing late last year.

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing lives on as a NASCAR team, while DEI's headquarters is now the home for Earnhardt's legacy business and other ventures. DEI's once-bustling race shop, which used to employ more than 300 workers, now is home to 58 employees.

Those who remain have a renewed focus on what Jeff Steiner, executive vice president and general manager, calls a "brand freshening," to include "better and more open public relations, a licensing plan that represents Dale and his legacy, and a focus back on the core of what makes Dale Earnhardt."

One of Steiner's first steps was taken two weeks ago when DEI signed Victory Management Group, Charlotte, to lead its event marketing, public relations and licensing endeavors. Victory's president, David Hynes, was chief marketing officer at Action Performance from 1998-2003, and his expertise in the licensing business was one of DEI's key attractions to Victory.

"It's about emphasising what Dale really meant to the sport and getting specific on the milestones that led him from rags to riches and endeared him to the fans," Hynes said. "There are so many stories that haven't been told."

Telling those Earnhardt stories through select events is ultimately what DEI hopes to do.

While it's a work in progress, Steiner envisions staging a classic car show from Earnhardt's collection of 50-some cars, including everything from his 1957 Chevy to racecars and other personal vehicles. There also figure to be opportunities around next year's opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame - Earnhardt is a shoo-in to be a member of the charter class.

Most recently, DEI entertained hundreds of fans on its Fan Day, which it holds each year around race week in Charlotte.

"From a fan experience standpoint, there are going to be opportunities for fans to get closer to the life and lifestyle of Dale Earnhardt," Steiner said. "We're talking about doing some things, like a classic car event, maybe with a sponsor, that reconnects with the fans in unique ways. There are a lot of things within Dale's properties that have never been seen."

by Michael Smith
Michael Smith is a reporter with SportsBusiness Journal


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Dale Earnhardt - Richard Childress Racing
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Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in eighth place Sunday, March 6, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory with a burnout Sunday, February 28, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. This was Johnson`s 76th career win, 5th in Atlanta. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finished second. The victory ties Johnson with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in NASCAR premier series wins.  (Photo by Andrew Coppley for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory with his wife, Chandra and daughters Genevieve and Lydia Sunday, February 28, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. This was Johnson`s 76th career win, 5th in Atlanta. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finished second. The victory ties Johnson with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in NASCAR premier series wins. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, crosses the finish line for the victory Sunday, February 28, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. This was Johnson`s 76th career win, 5th in Atlanta. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finished second. The victory ties Johnson with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in NASCAR premier series wins. (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS drives to victory Thursday, February 18, 2016 winning the first of two NASCAR Sprint Cup Can-Am Duel races at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. This is Earnhardt Jr.`s second consecutive Duel victory. He will start on the inside of Row 2 for Sunday`s Daytona 500 race. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, poses in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Can-Am Duels at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
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Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Can-Am Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, lead the field onto pit road due to rain during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
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Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the crew of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet team celebrate in victory lane after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(L-R) Team owner Rick Hendrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and crew chief Greg Ives celebrate in victory lane after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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Edwards99 - Unregistered

May 28, 2009 2:47 PM

Although I am not a die hard JR fan, Teresa would have looked a lot smarter and had better success if she would have started this marketing campaign before she decided to let him walk. She would be rolling in the dough if JR was still there while these events take place. She would have had all of the SR and JR fans but now she is trying to tempt the fans back after she realized what a foolish mistake she made. Although she shouldn't have just given the company to him and his sister, she should have been smart enough to see what would happen when he left. All hindsight now but a little foresight then would have made for more success in the future.

houndlover - Unregistered

May 28, 2009 6:53 PM

Well well well, funds must be getting slim. Doubting that. At least this was not blown out of porportion by saying thousands attended fan day, notice there were only HUNDREDS. I live in Mooresville & I doubt very serious any of those people were locals. In the past during Race Week when passing DEI it is very busy, people everywhere, I didn't see it this year. Edwards99 is right.



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