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Martha Earnhardt, the matriarch of famed NASCAR family, has died

Martha Earnhardt, pictured here at her Kannapolis home in 2007, died Saturday. She’s the mother of Dale Earnhardt and the matriarch of the Earnhardt family.

Martha Earnhardt, pictured here at her Kannapolis home in 2007, died Saturday. She’s the mother of Dale Earnhardt and the matriarch of the Earnhardt family.

Staff Photographer

Martha Earnhardt, matriarch to one of the most well-known families in stock car racing, has died. Her grandchildren Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Dale Earnhardt Jr. confirmed in a statement that she passed away on the evening of Dec 25.

“As we grieve her loss and begin to imagine life without our beloved ‘Mamaw,’ we find solace in knowing she is at peace in eternal glory and in joyous reunion with her husband Ralph and sons Dale, Randy and Danny,” their statement read.

Martha Earnhardt was married to famed dirt-track racer Ralph Earnhardt from 1947 until his death in 1973. She was the mother of Dale Sr., Danny Sr., Randy, Cathy and Kaye. Her son, the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., was a seven-time NASCAR champion and the father of Xfinity team co-owners Earnhardt Miller and Earnhardt Jr.

“Dad could be intimidating in a fatherly way and that’s very tough as a kid,” Earnhardt Jr. said on an episode of his podcast, The Dale Jr. Download, which featured Martha Earnhardt as a guest. “He’d beat and bang guys out on the racetrack, but then they’d go their way and he’d go his way, and they wouldn’t see each other for a week.”

“I had that every day,” Earnhardt Jr. continued. “But when Mamaw (Martha) was around, or when we were at her house or if she was at our house, she mellowed him. You knew ‘The Intimidator’ wasn’t gonna come out. She was kind of the leader.”

Martha Earnhardt raised her family in Kannapolis, N.C. Funeral service arrangements have not been announced.

NASCAR and Charlotte FC beat reporter Alex Andrejev joined The Observer in January 2020 following an internship at The Washington Post. She played Division I volleyball at Columbia University before earning her master’s degree at the University of Southern California.
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