Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How Dale Jr. got No. 88

DALLAS – So we now have a pretty good idea of how this whole Dale Earnhardt Jr. deal with Hendrick Motorsports and his new car number and sponsors went down.

Based on the conversations and interviews done at Wednesday’s news conference at the Dallas Convention Center, the leading number in the clubhouse was, for quite a while, the 81.

Somewhere along the way, though, as trademarks and things like that were being researched, it was discovered that there’s an apparel company called Company 81 that sells a lot of the same kind of shirts and things you’d sell to race fans with a car number on it.

Hendrick Motorsports could have trademarked a particular design of an 81, but there’s nothing that could have been done to stop that company from putting out its own shirts with that number on it. That would have caused a type of confusion in the marketplace nobody wants any part of.

(There also was the fact that "81" is a number sometimes associated with the Hell’s Angels motorcycle group. Supposedly, members of that group sometimes have that number tattooed on them because the "H" is the eighth letter of the alphabet and the "A" is the first, so "81" also can stand for "HA." Team owner Rick Hendrick, though, said that wasn’t a factor in the decision to move away from the 81.)

Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick and everyone involved wanted a number with an "8" in it. They never thought much about the 88, figuring that number is already taken by Robert Yates Racing.

But since the number 28 isn’t being used right now, and since Earnhardt Jr. is keen on the sport’s history, that was the next target.

Kelley Earnhardt Elledge called Yates to ask about the 28 or, if Yates wanted to bring back the 28, maybe getting the 38. Yates said the 28 meant so much to him, because it was Davey Allison’s number and the number Yates started his team with, he’d rather keep that and bring it back himself. (That means you can figure the two cars Doug Yates will own next year will probably be the 28 and the 38.)

Robert Yates suggested the idea of giving the 88 to Earnhardt Jr.
That was fine with Earnhardt Jr. and Elledge and Hendrick. The number has a legacy in the sport, with 65 victories. Dale Jarrett is a driver Earnhardt Jr. respects, and he had the most recent success with it. Darrell Waltrip also won 25 races in that number, and DW also won championships driving in the Mountain Dew sponsored car.
So that all worked out nicely.

"Robert said ‘two eights are better than one,’" Elledge said.
To try to keep reporters guessing, Hendrick said the team put in trademark applications for several numbers it had no intention of using. He also said there were decals of other car numbers, figuring that information would get out and lead people to jump to conclusions. Some did.

Earnhardt Jr. said he had fun "playing the game" with reporters about the number and sponsor all summer. Hendrick was laughing, too, about the efforts to throw reporters off the scent.

But the whole thing just drove Elledge about half crazy, she said.

"I wish people could have just waited until we had it all to show everybody," she said. "There were times when I felt like I was in the middle of a big gossip ring."

Of course, if nobody cared enough to keep asking the questions, then Wednesday’s press conference wouldn’t have been carried live on several cable channels, including a home shopping channel. And a plane load of media from Charlotte wouldn’t have traveled halfway across country to see two paint jobs, either.


Fan of David Poole said...

I'm not an Earnhardt Jr fan, but I was curious/interested in what the paint schemes for 2008 were going to look like. I had a feeling Jr's car number was going to be # 88 from listening/reading alot of rumor talk lately from various media sources.

Honestly I'm really dissapointed in the look of the paint schemes, with all the design artists out there, and with todays computer technology, why couldn't they have put some more thought or design into the Mountain Dew, and the National Guard car.

For example: the Mountain Dew car, possibly draft something like the soda can is, with a black and green tearing away effect, and for the National Guard paint scheme, something as a red, white, and blue, stars and stripes effect like Waltrip used to run at the Daytona July race.

I understand there is not alot of time to do extravagent paint schemes for every weekend/every race, and I also know that these aren't the final paint schemes, but come on, my 5 year old son could design and paint a better looking car than what was unvailed.

Just an opinion from a NASCAR fan.

Love the Sirius radio show in the morning David

stricklinfan82 said...

As a long time Davey Allison fan I am happy to hear that Yates Racing will probably be bringing back the #28. I hated to see them change the number to '38' years ago and I'm definitely glad that it will be making its return to the team that number belongs with, instead of being transferred to Rick Hendrick or Chip Ganassi and losing its history.

As a side note, Junior didn't get to keep the trademarked DEI design of the '8' number, he's instead using his JR Motorsports trademarked boxier version of the '8'. Does that mean that all of those fans with tatoos will have to get them changed anyway to match the new number design or are they just gonna add another DEI-style '8' to their other '8' and ignore the new number design?

Monkeesfan said...

What? No Gatorade sponsorship for this #88? ;-)

justa88fan said...

striklinfan82 reminds me of my friend's son in law. His son in law is from Chicago and a Tyotee fan. He wears a local college T shirt and a Red Sox cap to the Brickyard. He states how happy he is that the JR fans will have to be buy new stuff. So why is a 28/38 fan worried about the Nations tatoos? Do you have a brother in Chicago?

Anonymous said...

Give'em hell #88


Anonymous said...


Phil said...

Was Yates stating that the #38 was not available part of subterfuge?

Nature Boy said...

Why would Robert Yates want to give up the '88' instead of '38'??? The two numbers I associate with Robert Yates Racing is the '28' & '88'. I thought '38' would be the perfect number for Junior since it would honor both his father & grandfather.

stricklinfan82 said...

Firstly, I'm not a "28/38 fan", I was a Davey Allison fan back in the day so I'm happy to see the 28 going back to Yates Racing. Having sentiment for the #28 doesn't mean I have to be a Gilliland, Rudd, or Kvapil fan, which I am neither.

No, I am not a Junior fan but I don't hate him either. We've heard all the talk about the millions of fans with '8' tatoos just being able to add another '8'. What I haven't heard is the obvious observation that the '8' digits on Junior's new car look nothing like the '8' digit on his old car.

So I was just CURIOUS to know from Junior nation if Dale really did you tatoo wearers any favors by keeping an '8' in his number? It would seem to me from afar that you would still have to get rid of your old tatoos because adding another DEI-style '8' to your pre-existing tatoo would seem rather senseless since the old numbers look nothing like the new numbers.

I'm not trying to bash your driver so there's no need to be defensive. I was just bringing up the new number style / tatoo issue that I hadn't seen anyone else bring up and was curious what Junior Nation tatoo wearers thought about it. I figured all along that Junior would at least get to bring along the DEI-style '8' to Hendrick to use for his new "number with an eight in it".

stricklinfan82 said...

Nature Boy,

That's a fantastic point that I hadn't really thought about. I would agree that the '38' number that had only been with Yates for 4 years would have been the more logical choice for Robert to give up. The rumors say M&M's is leaving Yates after this year so it doesn't seem to be a sponsorship issue.

I'm not a Junior fan but '38' would have seemed like the perfect number to me, since that number would honor both his father and grandfather at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Yawn. 88 will always be Dale Jarrett's number. Good luck being third in line for the good stuff at Hendricks....(or is it 4th in line when Casey Mears moves to the 5).

Adam said...

I'm glad they didn't do some crazy paint scheme. I like the simple looks of the DEI cars, the 11, and the 20 and even the old black and silver 3 car. I hate a whole hodge podge of lines and colors and flames or something. They just look silly to me.

Anonymous said...

To the Fan of David Poole Guy; These are the final paint schemes as Earnhardt Jr said himself that he put most of the imput into designing them with a friend of his. You will never see Earnhardt Jr in an outrageously painted car as he stated over and over in his career that he like to drive simple looking cars and said it yesterday as well. So you go ahead and be dissapointed, the real fans of Earnhardt Jr, including myself will turn our sea of red to the Sea of Green when the amp ca runs and Sea of Blue when the National Guard car is on track. You have fun rooting for the last place 28 car every week.

Marilyn said...

To tell the truth......I'm sick to the death of hearing about, reading about and seeing Dale Earnhardt all over the place. Enough is enough!! Who cares where or what he drives. The "88" still belongs to the better Dale -- Jarrett! I'd like to see one day go by without the mention of Jr.

davidpoole said...

As I have said all along, Dale Jr. was not interested in the 38. He doesn't want the 3. He's said that all along. He doesn't want people comparing him to his father, and he doesn't see it as his job to carry the 3 forward with him him his career. So that's why no 38.

Anonymous said...

hey everyone
a number is a number its the Driver I chose to cheer for i ahve been a Dale JR fan for years have many things with the numbver * on them. time to put them away and start a new collection #88. and as Davidpoole said Jr said wjhen he left DEI he did not want the 3. this is a clean restart for JR new Car team and number. Now he can concentrate on winning races.
#88 THE THIRST FOR FIRST begins 2008

YouCanBeFit said...

Some have said that the paint scheme isn't so hot. Towards the end of the run to get into the chase, folks (and even JR.) were saying that he's always "ran" good in white. I think they wanted to put a fair amount of white on the cars, but, still stay true to the sponsors colors.

Myself, I don't think he should ever run the 3, but, thought it'd be cool to see a little nod to Dad with the Amp Car in Black, writing and a red number 88 outlined in white.

You could do many things with the National Guard car. I'd go with mainly blue and white, red number 88 of course. Get rid of the half/half Jr! (Even DW's gatorade car had a better paint scheme!)

vroom said...

I like but don't love the paint...the #88 is groovy and will serve Junior well!

Anonymous said...

All that white does nothing for the cool factor.

Anonymous said...

"Does that mean that all of those fans with tatoos will have to get them changed anyway to match the new number design or are they just gonna add another DEI-style '8' to their other '8' and ignore the new number design?"

who the hell do you think is going to answer your question??

david poole??

or do you expect several ka-jillion people with 8 tats commenting for your enlightnment?

stricklinfan82 said...

It was meant to be a rhetorical question. Everyone in the media has been talking about every Junior fan just adding another '8' to their tatoos, window clings, quilts, and everything else they have with an '8' on it. I was just thinking out loud that doing that doesn't sound practical since the style of the numbers has changed, along with the number itself.

You can do whatever you want with your Junior stuff I don't really care. I was just making the point that it seems like Theresa screwed you guys by not letting Junior keep the trademarked style '8'.

Anonymous said...

"You can do whatever you want with your Junior stuff I don't really care. I was just making the point that it seems like Theresa screwed you guys by not letting Junior keep the trademarked style '8'."

i wear my Jr stuff.
and, I well prob buy more.

teresa makes no matter to me.
she can and does do whatever she wants to do.

i don't think Jr fans really give a damn where or what he dtives.

next season we will see if the move was good or bad.

i agree with darrell, daytona 500 and 6 other wins.

eat crow freaks.

Anonymous said...

As to the color and design...
Jr always said he liked the white cars and a clean design.

i'm sad you will feel bad when Jr does good next year.

Anonymous said...

the plain paint job on the 88 will look just fine with the checkered flag hanging out the driver's window....

Casey2805 said...

Well Marilyn, if you"re sick to death of Jr, don't come to an obvious Jr site.....happens every time....There are millions of us that do love Jr..If you don't, fine...stay out.

Anonymous said...

marilyn---it's kinda like the words "under GOD" in the pledge of allegience---if you don't like it, don't say it---if you don't like jr. don't tune in!!!!!

Susan said...

I was under the impression that Teresa required Jr to purchase the 8 number for a huge sum plus she also wanted a 1 1/5% to 2% of the souvenire sales from the deal, plus returning the number when he retired. When I read your posting, it sounded like the 88 was just given to him by Yates. If that is what happened then what a true show of class and decency. It's hard to defend people that treat their family members in such manner. At least my parents still drive their newish official Dale Jr red #8 car and they have never regretted the number change at all. I love your columns!!! You are the man that has the Nascar info.

Anonymous said...

Just glad it's all over and we can get back to the races. I certainly didn't realize what all went into choosing a number and all the history behind the different numbers before Dale Jr.'s big story. It's really interesting, but not nearly as exciting as watching the "88" cross the line as a winner will be...


Anonymous said...

Well Marilyn, if you"re sick to death of Jr, don't come to an obvious Jr site
I had no idea this was an obvious Jr. site, I thought it was David Poole's blog.

David, are you Jr's new PR rep or something?

Anonymous said...

88. This is a naziskin code for HH, or "Heil Hitler," H being the 8th letter of the alphabet. It also refers to a set of 88 precepts written by the neo-nazi leader David Lane. The 88 precepts are rules and concepts that all White Supremacists lived by.

Anonymous said...

Wow, never knew about all the tinfoil hat stuff behind the number 88.

Did that ever come up when anyone else was running the number?

Monkeesfan said...

anonymous #30, aren't you reaching just a tad?

Anonymous said...

Come on Dave, time for a new blog post!

What's going on out in Kansas?

Is Jr. going to test in Atlanta on Monday at the end of the season?

daleernhrt8 said...

I have a #8 tattoo and i have no plans to change it to me Jr was the #8 and always will be... who knows i may add an extra 8 down the road we shall see

Anonymous said...

I was wondering what was wrong with 08. Get the 08 from whoever has it and make it exactly like the old DEI 8.

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