Axalta Jumps into the Driver’s Seat with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at SEMA in Las Vegas
What happens in Vegas, doesn’t always stay in Vegas! Dale Earnhardt Jr., voted by the fans as NASCAR's most popular driver for 14 years in a row, visited Axalta’s booth at SEMA, the world’s largest automotive aftermarket show, on Thursday, November 2. During the candid and informal interview, Earnhardt shared why he started a career in racing, what continues to inspire him, and what he will miss most about driving for Hendrick Motorsports. His final race as a full-time Cup Series driver will take place on November 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Earnhardt lit up with pride as he spoke about his team and the special relationship they’ve established over the years: “The relationship I have with my team…all those guys that work on our car – we’re like a big group of brothers and I’ve been working with a lot of these guys for many years! There’s such a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie there that I’ll miss a lot. We’re part of each other’s lives.”
He also talked about his current aspirations and the ways he will continue to participate in the sport: “I talked to NASCAR® and I wanted to continue to be part of the sport…be a part of its future. I care a lot about the health of the sport and where it’s going.” He added, “Being able to sign with NBC and be in the booth for the second half of the season next year gives me the opportunity to stay involved, and have a purpose.… I’m excited about that challenge.”
Earnhardt also shared his excitement about his recent announcement that he will soon be a father to a baby girl. To recognize this milestone, Axalta partnered with Drive One, a Detroit based nonprofit which instills at-risk youth with valuable trade skills that are required in today's automotive workforce, to custom paint a pedal car in Axalta’s Tickle Me Pink. Students that worked on the project helped present the gift to Earnhardt.
Following the interview, the driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS hosted a special meet-and-greet for 150 awe-struck fans.
Our interview with Earnhardt was a standout moment among many other exciting events at SEMA throughout the week. The Axalta booth was popular from show-open to close every day – with crowds rushing to meet special guests and view the Middlecott Sketchbattle Experience, a head-to-head drawing duel between automotive designers. Adam Genei, owner of the custom design and car build company, Mobsteel and his crew from History’s TV Series, Detroit Steel, joined us as guest judges of these captivating sketchbattles and entertained fans during an interview. T.J. Ott, captain of the Hot Tuna boat from National Geographic Channel’s Wicked Tuna, also made a splash during his appearances at the Axalta booth. Master pinstripers Paul Quinn and DeWayne Connot demonstrated their talents through intricate paintings and designs at the booth, and the Tucker 48 automobile, which had passersby in awe, was the topic of conversation between builder Rob Ida, of Ida Automotive and Mike and Sean Tucker, the great grandchildren of the legendary Preston Tucker.