In case you haven’t marked your calendar, Father’s Day is this Sunday, June 21. Before you scramble to buy Pops a tie or maybe a case of beer to help him achieve that Dad Bod, let’s take a second and think about what’s really important: your relationship.
It’s important to remember all those bonding moments and words of wisdom that Dad has provided over the years. We put together a round-up of our favorite father-son relationships in the auto world to get you thinking happy thoughts about YOUR poppa.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr.
Perhaps the most famous father-son duo in NASCAR is Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr. Growing up in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Dale Jr. often felt he’d forever live in the shadows of his superstar father. In 2012, Dale Jr. appeared on CBS This Morning in their “Note to Self” segment. He read a letter he wrote to his sixteen-year-old self and admitted that his relationship with Dale Sr. was often strained, but that it developed into something incredible over time.
No NASCAR fan can forget the sad day in February 2001 when Dale Earnhardt Sr. died after crashing his car on the final lap of the Daytona 500. In the years that have followed Dale Sr.’s untimely death, his son has upheld the Earnhardt legacy and has become a racing celebrity.
The Petty Family
If there’s a royal NASCAR family, it’s The Pettys. Patriarch Lee Petty started the family tradition and is considered one of the sport’s pioneers. A three-time NASCAR championship winner, he was one of the first superstar drivers.
After Lee came Richard, then Kyle and then Adam. Richard “The King” Petty won the Daytona 500 a record seven times and is statistically the most accomplished driver of all time. Kyle competed in the NASCAR Spring Cup series, was formerly the CEO of Petty Enterprises and is now co-host for NASCAR American on NBCSN. Adam, the first fourth-generation driver in NASCAR history, began racing at age eighteen and won his first ARCA race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
Sadly, Adam Petty died much too young when he crashed in a practice session for the Busch series Busch 200 race in May of 2000. In Adam’s honor, the Petty family has partnered with Paul Newman and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to begin the Victory Junction Gang Camp.
Henry and Edsel Ford
The only non-driving duo on our list, Henry and Edsel Ford, are key to the auto world as we know it. Henry Ford founded the Ford Auto Group and developed the first affordable automobile for middle-class Americans. The development of this more affordable model transformed the automotive industry forever.
Edsel was Henry’s only son, and the father and son rarely saw eye-to-eye. When Edsel became the president of Ford in 1915, he and Henry almost never agreed on major decisions. While many say Edsel didn’t leave any lasting impressions on Ford Motor Company, others disagree. He founded and named the Mercury division, strengthened the company’s overseas production and introduced hydraulic brakes to Ford automobiles just to name a few of his accomplishments.
The Andretti Family
Mario Andretti has become a racing icon over the years and his name is often used to connote speed. In the racing world, though, the Andretti name is associated with the Andretti Curse. The Andretti family has had four generations of drivers: after Lee came his sons Michael and Jeff, nephew John and grandson Marco. The Andretti Curse began after Mario Andretti won the Indianapolis 500 in 1967, and the family hasn’t been able to reclaim the title since. Maybe Marco will be the one to finally break it…
Nevertheless, you can’t ignore Mario Andretti’s impressive career. He was one of only two drivers to win races in Formula One, IndyCar, World Sporscar Championship and NASCAR. Plus, we’re fairly certain his name is mentioned in more songs than any other race car driver.