Note: This was originally posted August 20, 2007.
Got nothing for a picture, but I do want to say that the 81 is the logical number for Dale Earnhardt Jr. next year. His maternal grandfather, Robert Gee ran the 81, and the 8 in 1978. His driver, mostly Ferrel Harris, ran both the 81 and the 8. In his first race, Farrel made it all happen, when he finished 8th, driving the 81, at the 1978 Firecracker 400 at Daytona.
Ferrel Harris finished 8th, driving the 81, and someone named Dale Earnhardt finished the same race 7th, driving a car for Will Cronkite. By they way, Dale Earnhardt finished 7th in a Ford.
This was right before the man that was to start Earnhardt's career showed up, Rod Osterlund. In 1979, Earnhardt won rookie of the year, and in 1980, Dale Earnhardt won the Winston Cup for the first time, the only time in Cup history that a rookie has won ROTY and the Cup back to back.
Dale Earnhardt went on to win 6 more championships and a total of 76 races with owner Richard Childress, tying the all time record of championships with Richard Petty.
In 1978, a talented car builder named Robert Gee owned a Winston Cup team. He alternately used the numbers 81 and 8 for his drivers Ferrel Harris and Skip Manning. Gee never won a race as an owner, but he won a lot of races as a builder and fabricator. At one point in his career, he helped get an owner named Rick Hendrick his start in racing.
Robert Gee was also the father of a daughter named Brenda. Brenda caught Dale Earnhardt's eye and they were married, and had two children, Kelley and Dale Jr. At the time, Dale was trying to race for a living and working side jobs including welding and changing tires for a tire shop. Money was scarce, and eventually Brenda Gee Earnhardt moved on with her two children, was divorced from Dale Earnhardt, and got remarried. A few years later, Brenda and her new husband suffered a devastating house fire, and she sent Kelley and Dale Jr. to live with their biological father, who was now a famous Nascar driver. By this time, Dale was remarried for the 3rd and final time to Teresa Houston, the daughter of a race car driver. Dale and Teresa took Dale Jr. and Kelley in, and raised them. Dale wasn't there a lot, because he was traveling to race tracks all the time. Teresa took care of the kids. Dale won races, and became one of the best drivers in Nascar history.
Skip ahead a few years. Dale is gone. Dale Jr. is driving for the company that Dale and Teresa started. After a few years of disappointment, Dale Jr. leaves his father's company to drive for Rick Hendrick Racing, a company his maternal grandfather helped get off the ground. Dale wants to take the number that his father secured for him, the very number that his grandfather had raced with, away from his step-mother so he can keep the same number on the race track.
Teresa resists, and eventually the deal falls through. Dale Jr. eventually thinks about what number would be the best, and thinking about the legacy of his mother's dad, will choose the 81.
It has to be this way. It's destiny.
Dale Jr. needs to make the 81 more famous than the 8 has ever been.