3: The Dale Earnhardt Story

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3: The Dale Earnhardt Story
Three the dale earnhardt story.jpg
3: The Dale Earnhardt Story movie poster
Written byRobert Eisele
Directed byRussell Mulcahy
StarringBarry Pepper
J.K. Simmons
Elizabeth Mitchell
Sean Bridgers
Joe Chrest
Chad McCumbee
Greg Thompson
Kevin Stillwell
Ron Prather
Theme music composerLouis Febre
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducersOrly Adelson
Lynn Raynor
Running time90 minutes
Production companyESPN Original Entertainment
DistributorBuena Vista Television
Original networkESPN
Original release
  • December 11, 2004 (2004-12-11)

3: The Dale Earnhardt Story is a 2004 television movie produced by ESPN depicting the life of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt. It chronicles his life from his humble upbringing in Kannapolis, North Carolina, throughout his career racing automobiles to include his rise to dominance in NASCAR, culminating with his death in the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.[1] Its central theme focuses on the relationship between him and his father, Ralph Earnhardt, as well as the relationship between him and his youngest son, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. It was first broadcast on December 11, 2004, and subsequently released on DVD. Barry Pepper was cast in the lead role to star as Earnhardt; giving a credible performance which earned him a nomination for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie.[2]

Many of the film's race scenes were filmed at Rockingham Speedway. The track had lost its races and at the time was used mostly as a test facility and driving school. Chad McCumbee, who portrayed Earnhardt Jr., later became a NASCAR driver in the Truck Series.[3] He also raced alongside Dale Jr. himself at the Pocono 500, driving Kyle Petty's 45 car, as Petty was in the TNT broadcast booth.

Actors playing the part of the Flying Aces were Ray Everett, Greg Davis, David Brooks, Robbie Hicks, and Don Gyr.


The film details the life of stock-car racing legend Dale Earnhardt. From an early age, Earnhardt learned about cars from his father Ralph, who worked at a mill to feed and clothe his family but also rebuilt jalopies in his garage and raced them at local events on weekends. Ralph, a minor legend in Southern stock-car racing, inspired Dale to follow his own passion for racing. After dropping out of high school to race, Dale started out in his father's shadow and struggled to establish himself for more than a decade. Dale finally broke into NASCAR in the late '70s, and in time became the top prize money winner in NASCAR history. The lessons Dale learned from his father are revisited when Dale's own teenage son, Dale Jr., decides to take up racing at the age of 16.[4]


Cast Member Role
Barry Pepper Dale Earnhardt
Elizabeth Mitchell Teresa Earnhardt
Ernest Whitted Pit Crowd
Andrea Powell Martha Earnhardt
Sean Bridgers Neil Bonnett
David Lewis Brooks Earnhardt Pit Crew
Russell Brooks Earnhardt Pit Crew (as Russell Dean Brooks Jr.)
Joe Chrest Jake Elder
Russell Cook Press Conference VIP
Teresa Delgado Kelley Earnhardt
Tony Devon Will
Thunderbird Dinwiddie Connie (as Traci Dinwiddie)
Tricia Dyar Daisy (as Tricia Quattlebaum)
Corri English Kelley Earnhardt
Michael Flippo Wayne Robertson
Daniel Freeze Dale Pit Crew
Frank Glidden Kerry
Craig S. Harper Kenny Schrader
Andy Hillenburg Deke
Kenneth M. Johnston Darrell Waltrip Pit Crew Member
Jim Keisler GM Executive
Andrea Kfoury Marion
James G. Martin Jr. Dwayne
Chad McCumbee Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Marshal McGee Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Ron Prather Richard Childress
Brandi Ryans Brenda Gee
David Sherrill H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler
Lori Beth Sikes Latane Brown (as Lori Beth Edgeman)
J. K. Simmons Ralph Earnhardt
Zachary Dylan Smith Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Kevin Stillwell Rod Osterland
Greg Thompson Darrell Waltrip
Olivia Weston Dale's Mistress
David Wilson GM Executive
Meredith DiPaolo Stephens Driver's Wife (uncredited)

Copyright infringement controversy[edit]

The script of this film was not approved by Earnhardt's widow, Teresa Earnhardt, and his family. The film, although capturing the essence of Earnhardt, is inaccurate in many of the events seen in it. Richard Childress, the former car owner and team owner of Earnhardt, sued ESPN for copyright infringement with its use of the "3" logo.[5] In December 2005 the lawsuit was settled out of court. [6]


  1. ^ Heffernan, Virginia. (December 10, 2004). A First Love Becomes the Family Business. nytimes.com. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  2. ^ The 11th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. sagawards.org. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  3. ^ Chad McCumbee. racing-reference.info. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  4. ^ "3". RottenTomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  6. ^ https://greensboro.com/sports_professional/auto_racing/earnhardt-lawsuit-ends-with-settlement/article_06b52698-02bc-5f57-a320-67ca0d9b73fb.html

External links[edit]