Nashville Crew - 1st Earnhardt Fan Club
When he passed in 2001, the late Dale Earnhardt had thousands of fan club members all over the world. However, he always had a favorite group of fans he named "THE NASHVILLE CREW." This group, from the Nashville, Tennessee area, were early members of the first Earnhardt fan club dating to 1979. When we began our first full season of sponsoring Dale at Wrangler Jeans in 1981, Dale had me outfit each of these special folks with an authentic Wrangler pit crew shirt and pit crew hat. They furnished their own Wrangler jeans and cutoffs. This group ate, slept and breathed Dale Earnhardt. They had a jeep painted blue and yellow and decaled with our Wrangler insignia riding on Goodyear Wrangler tires. Dale had me get it in the parade laps at Nashville and Bristol. This photo was taken in the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway infield in 1981. There was another thing Dale loved about "The Nashville Crew." They knew how to party! A cold Budweiser was never far away if needed when "The Nashville Crew" was on the scene. Time marches on and not all of the original crew survive. However, I have it on excellent authority that a deceased member was buried with a long neck bottle of Beechwood bubbles. Here's to the days when the fans got up close and personal with the drivers of NASCAR. Here's to the days when drivers not only autographed memorabilia for fans, they also shared intimate moments with them. Here's to "The Nashville Crew." May their deeds be forever remembered.
Photo by the late Beverly Hamer, shared from the personal collection of Russ Thompson with his permission.