Who is Teresa Earnhardt?

Teresa Earnhardt (nee Houston) was born on 29 October 1958, in Hickory, North Carolina, USA. She is an American businesswoman and the widow of the late NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) legend, Dale Earnhardt. As the president and CEO of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI), Teresa has carried on her late husband’s legacy, managing race teams, and overseeing various business ventures, while also focusing on her charitable pursuits.

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Early life and education

Teresa was born to Hal Houston and his wife, Louise; her father was the brother of legendary NASCAR driver Tommy Houston, so from a young age, Teresa was exposed to the racing world and was deeply influenced by her family’s passion for the sport.

Teresa attended Bunker Hill High School in Claremont, North Carolina, where she was an active participant in various sports, including track and field. After matriculating from high school, she went on to study Commercial Art and Interior Design at King’s College in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Marriage with Dale Earnhardt

Teresa first met Dale Earnhardt in the late 1970s, while attending a race meeting at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Their shared love for racing drew them closer, and the couple married on 14 November 1982.

Dale had already been married two times, and was a father of three children from previous relationships: Kerry, Kelley, and Dale Jr. After marrying Dale, Teresa took on the role of their stepmother, and helped in co-parenting them. In 1988, the couple welcomed their only biological child, Taylor Nicole.

During their marriage, Dale’s career as a professional stock car driver skyrocketed, with Teresa playing an integral role in his success. As Dale’s most loyal confidante and business partner, Teresa not only managed the couple’s finances, but also provided emotional support during Dale’s numerous victories as well as setbacks.

Furthermore, Teresa helped her husband professionally, as the head of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) in 1996, 1998 and 1999. Through her involvement with Chance 2 Motorsports, Teresa Earnhardt also held partial ownership of the Busch Series championship team in 2004 and 2005.

Her initial victory as a team owner in the Daytona 500 happened when Michael Waltrip, driving the No. 15 Chevrolet, emerged victorious in the 2001 race. However, the win was overshadowed by Dale’s fatal car crash during the final lap of the race.

Life after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On 18 February 2001, the racing world was shocked by the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt. Teresa was devastated by the loss of her husband, but she also recognized the importance of preserving his legacy and supporting the family.

Teresa took on full responsibility of managing DEI following Dale’s passing. Under her leadership, the company grew to include several successful race teams, and expanded its operations to automotive dealerships, manufacturing facilities, and various licensing deals.

Despite the challenges she faced as a woman in a male-dominated industry, Teresa persevered and helped to establish DEI as a powerhouse in NASCAR. However, the company faced various setbacks, including the departure of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who left DEI to join Hendrick Motorsports in 2008. This marked the beginning of a difficult period for the company, which ultimately led to its merger with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2009.

Today, DEI continues to operate as the parent company of various businesses, including the NASCAR-themed museum in Mooresville, North Carolina.

Teresa has also ventured into winemaking, establishing the winery named Earnhardt Estates, which produces a range of wines that pay tribute to Dale’s racing career, with each bottle featuring labels inspired by his iconic race cars.

Philanthropy and charitable work

Teresa has always been passionate about giving back to her community, and following Dale’s death, she became even more committed to philanthropy. In 2002, she established the Dale Earnhardt Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to continuing Dale’s legacy of community service and charitable giving, focusing on three main areas: children’s education, wildlife preservation, and environmental conservation.

Over the years, the Dale Earnhardt Foundation has funded various initiatives, such as scholarships for underprivileged students, grants for wildlife conservation projects, and support for environmental education programs. In addition, the foundation has contributed to other non-profit organizations, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Victory Junction Gang Camp, and the American Red Cross.

Teresa also played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Dale Earnhardt Tribute Concert in 2003, which raised funds for the Dale Earnhardt Foundation and other charities. The event featured performances by famous musicians such as Kenny Chesney, Sheryl Crow, and Brooks & Dunn, and attracted hundreds of thousands of fans.

Trademark lawsuit

In 2016, Teresa Earnhardt became involved in a trademark lawsuit with her stepson, Kerry Earnhardt. The dispute arose when Kerry and his wife, Rene, sought to market a line of custom homes under the name Earnhardt Collection. Teresa filed a legal challenge against Kerry, claiming that the use of the Earnhardt name for the business would unfairly capitalize on the legacy of her late husband, Dale Earnhardt.

Teresa argued that she held the rights to the Earnhardt name and sought to protect the brand associated with Dale Earnhardt’s racing career. Kerry, on the other hand, maintained that he had the right to use his own last name in his business ventures.

The legal battle garnered significant attention within the NASCAR community, as it involved a public dispute between family members. In July 2017, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled in favor of Kerry Earnhardt, allowing him to continue using the ‘Earnhardt Collection’ name for his custom home business. The board found that the name was unlikely to cause confusion or dilute the brand associated with Dale Earnhardt.

Net worth

As the widow of Dale Earnhardt and a successful entrepreneur in her own right, Teresa Earnhardt has amassed considerable wealth. Although her exact net worth isn’t publicly disclosed, it’s estimated to be close to $50 million as of April 2023.

Dale Earnhardt Wiki Bio

Dale Earnhardt, also known as ‘The Intimidator’ was a legendary American professional stock car driver and a team owner in the world of NASCAR racing. With his aggressive driving style and extraordinary talent, Dale became one of the most respected and influential figures in the history of motorsports. Born on 19 April 1951, in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Dale’s life and career were defined by his determination and unwavering passion for racing.

Dale was born into a racing family – his father, Ralph Dale, was a highly accomplished short-track driver and NASCAR Sportsman champion. Dale was exposed to the world of racing from an early age,, and it quickly became his primary passion.

REMEMBERING A LEGEND: Dale Earnhardt was killed in a crash at Daytona 19 years ago today, and the racing world would never be the same. Do you remember where you were? wfla.com/big-race-daytona

Posted by WFLA News Channel 8 on Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Despite facing academic struggles and dropping out of school in ninth grade, Dale was determined to pursue a career as a stock car driver. He began competing in local races at the age of 16, and eventually started participating in the NASCAR-sanctioned Late Model Sportsman division. His apparent talent and aggressive driving style quickly gained attention, and in 1975, he made his debut in the elite Winston Cup Series, now known as the NASCAR Cup Series.

Dale’s NASCAR career spanned over two decades, during which he became one of the most successful and revered drivers in the sport’s history. He raced for various teams early in his career, but his big break came in 1981, when he joined Richard Childress Racing (RCR). This partnership would prove to be incredibly fruitful, as Dale and RCR went on to achieve remarkable success together.

During his career, Dale won a total of 76 races in the NASCAR Cup Series and secured seven championships, tying Richard Petty for the most championships in the series’ history. Some of his most notable accomplishments included winning the prestigious Daytona 500 in 1998, and claiming the International Race of Champions (IROC) championship four times.

Dale was married three times. His first wife was Latane Brown in 1968, with whom he had his first child, Kerry. In 1971, Dale married his second wife, the daughter of NASCAR car builder Robert Gee, Brenda Gee. Together, they had two children, Kelley and Dale Jr. This marriage ended in divorce, and in 1982, Dale married his third wife, Teresa.

On 18 February 2001, during the final lap of the Daytona 500, Dale tragically lost his life in a devastating crash. His death sent shockwaves through the racing world and left fans and fellow drivers heartbroken.

Dale’s passing led to significant changes in the world of motorsports, particularly in the area of safety. NASCAR implemented numerous improvements, such as the use of the HANS device (Head and Neck Support), SAFER barriers (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction), and advances in car design to better protect drivers during high-speed crashes.

Dale’s legacy as a racing icon continues to thrive even after his death. His accomplishments on the track and his relentless determination have left an indelible mark on NASCAR history. Earnhardt’s name continues to resonate within the racing community, with his son Dale Earnhardt Jr. forging his own successful career as a driver and team owner.

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