Tha Sports Junkies 101

Dale Earnhardt Jr. To Donate Brain For Concussion Research


Dale Earnhardt Jr. is no stranger to hard crashes and head injuries similar to what football players endured before being diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy post-mortem. Following in the footsteps of many NFL players and extreme sports athletes, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Saturday in a Twitter Q&A he plans to donate his brain for concussion research.

It’s a major announcement, because Earnhardt is NASCAR’s most popular driver and has been the past 13 years. Dale also has a past with concussions that many drivers otherwise try to hide.

In 2002, Dale Earnhardt Jr. got a concussion in the Fontana race in April but did not disclose the injury until September of that year while continuing to race. Ten years later, Earnhardt had two concussions in six weeks, one he self-diagnosed at a tire test in Kansas and another after a big crash at Talladega. Afterward, he voluntarily went to a doctor for an evaluation and had to sit out two Chase races in October because of the injury and thus ending his championship hopes.

While Earnhardt shows no ill effects of the concussions thanks to NASCAR’s improved safety, other drivers haven’t been so lucky. Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen was found to have dementia in 2009 along with short-term memory loss. His family has met with NASCAR officials to discuss his declining health. Other former NASCAR drivers that have been affected by repeated head injuries include Bobby Allison, LeeRoy Yarbrough, Dick Trickle, Jerry Nadeau and Ricky Craven.