That prompted me to finally write a post I've been drafting in my head for several years now, which is a look at the largest family in trading cards.
That is the Earnhardt family in NASCAR, with 16 people getting cards of their own, and three more appearing on cards co-featured with Dale. (The Petty family comes in second, with 8 members getting cards. For NBA, the leader is the Barry family, with 6 people getting cards. I don't know about hockey yet- but I doubt it's more than 16 people!)
It all started with Ralph Earnhardt, who started racing in NASCAR in the very early stages of the sport's history...but his actual beginning in auto racing is clouded by time and poor record keeping. He never really chased the big time- though he does have 51 Grand National starts to his credit (now the Cup series) he preferred to stay close to home and race in the Sportsman division, that would eventually become the Busch series- now the Xfinity series- but, in 1982, NASCAR threw away the records that had been kept- which were not very well kept- and started from scratch. He won several championships including the 1956 Sportsman title. He was one of the first to race and only race- in the early days it was not uncommon for the drivers to have to hold down several jobs to try and find a way to make a living. Ralph Earnhardt raced so much, up to 5 nights per week, that he was able to support his family with just his earnings.
|2007 Press Pass Legends #10|
|1999 Press Pass #8|
|Dale Earnhardt : The Artist Series #2|
Dale had 4 children, and three of them went into the racing field.
The eldest, Kerry, had a brief Cup career, and when he drove Dave Marcis' s car at Michigan in 2000, it became the first time in history that a father and two sons took to the track at the same time. Kerry retired after 2009, and now owns a company that builds houses.
|2018 Donruss #114|
|1994 Wheels High Gear Day 1 #181|
|2003 Press Pass Signings- probably my favorite pack pull ever, from a single pack retail purchase!|
|Dale Earnhardt: The Artist Series #16|
|2017 Donruss #61|
So that's the direct line from Ralph to today...but the family is much more well represented than that.
As noted, Kelley and Dale Jr's mother is Brenda Gee. (no cards exist of her) Her father Robert was in the racing field for many years, among other things being one of the original employees of Hendrick Motorsports, in fact building the engine that Dale Earnhardt drove to win the first ever Busch race in 1982. In the early years of Maxx, they actually gave cards to the crew members who were voted as All-Pro, something I really miss in the world of NASCAR cards, as now we mostly get drivers only; there's far more to the sport than that. Robert Gee got his cards primarily from those All-Pro subsets, Finish Line also included a tribute card to him after he passed away in 1995.
|1990 Maxx Glossy #106|
|1993 Maxx #189|
|2008 Press Pass Speedway #55|
Dale's third and final wife was Teresa , nee Houston. She and Dale got married in 1982, and from 1984-01, Dale and Teresa co-owned Dale Earnhardt Inc., which competed in the Busch Series only from 1984-94, then added the Truck series in 1995, and finally moved up to Cup in 1998. After the tragedy of Dale's death, Teresa owned and operated DEI herself until 2009, when it was merged with (bought by) Chip Ganassi racing. DEI won two Truck titles and 4 Busch titles. Teresa got 9 cards of her own in her role as DEI owner/ Dale's wife, as NASCAR has always been about family, including in the cards in the 1990s. I have only one of them.
|1991 Traks #186|
|1993 Maxx Premier Series #50|
Andy and Marty went into driving. Marty has one card of his own, but I not only do not have it, I've never even seen it, so I can't share it here. (1992 Bull Ring #184)
Andy found some success in the Truck series, (3 wins) but his tenure in Cup was short lived, as the team ran out of money midway through his Rookie of the Year attempt season, 2001. He is Austin Dillon's spotter in the Cup series today. Austin is, of course, grandson of Richard Childress...who owned Dale's car from 1981 & 1984-01. As I said, NASCAR is all about family.
|2001 Press Pass Premium Gold #48|
|1992 Maxx #184|
|2000 Press Pass Trackside #52|
Could you imagine, if all of these folks were still with us, and still getting along, (some of the relationships are, um...strained) the bench racing and the memories that would abound at a family reunion? It would pretty much be the entire history of the sport in one room!
|2009 Legends #58|