Special Memories for Son of Dale Jarrett
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on January 29, 2014 | 11:09 P.M. EST
Dale Jarrett: "Some of the most special times that I can remember as a kid were those opportunities that I had to travel to the races as my dad was possibly driving the tow truck or if I was just riding in a vehicle with him or if it was our entire family." (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Victory Lane photographs provide the timeline, but the memories that resonate with Jason Jarrett are the trips home from races with his dad, Dale.
Those moments returned Wednesday night as Jason watched his father inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Dale Jarrett joined his dad, Ned, who was enshrined three years ago.
Through the emotion - Dale Jarrett’s voice quivered when he spoke of family during his induction speech - Jason recalled those trips from Bristol, Martinsville, South Boston and North Wilkesboro.
Jason sat in the back seat as Dale drove along the same path Ned traveled years earlier and stopped at some of the same restaurants Ned once did. Jason listened to Dale and his stepmom Kelley replay the race and added his analysis at times.
“We laughed on the way home,’’ Jason said. “All three of us told stories from what we saw happening on those nights. We had the best perspective with dad telling who he thought drove him a certain way.
“If the night went bad, sometimes it was a silent ride.’’
Jason Jarrett smiled as he thought about even those memories.
With Dale Jarrett often gone because of his racing schedule, the car trips to and from tracks were family time. It was just how Dale had experienced growing up with his father.
“Some of the most special times that I can remember as a kid were those opportunities that I had to travel to the races as my dad was possibly driving the tow truck or if I was just riding in a vehicle with him or if it was our entire family,’‘ Dale Jarrett said.
“Those were opportunities then that when you miss those times at home, you have a chance to talk, to get some life lessons because that's what I got a number of times in traveling with my dad. I felt like that's the way I've been brought up and I needed to do that with Jason, and I had those opportunities.”
Jason Jarrett found those trips enlightening.
“Listening also taught me a lot about my dad’s patience in a racecar,’’ he said. “I could just tell that he thought about things before he made moves in a racecar.’’
“I was always fascinated with my dad’s focus. I could just see and hear the way he went about things that he was so determined.
“When he would tell a story ... to me, he wouldn’t try to leave anything out, he wouldn’t try to make it a children’s story. He was telling me how it was in the heat of battle racing against those guys. He told me real stories about real life even the bad nights and the bad races and the bad years.’’
It was then that the races truly came alive.
“Everybody remembers the feeling of Victory Lane,’’ said Jason, the spotter for Ryan Newman. “I always tried to depict something that was different out of the trips that I took. To be totally truthful about it, I probably took as many trips with (Ned) and my grandmother. I remember going to North Wilkesboro and (Ned) stopping for apple cider. It’s just weird how I remember things like that over the races.’’
Dale Jarrett had another way to describe his son’s memories.
“Full circle,’’ he said.
For a racing family, what other way is there?