Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet - The Dealership
It all started when Ralph Earnhardt and his teenage son, Dale, visited a Kannapolis area Chevy dealer for a suitable race engine. Ralph decided that the new Z/28 302 small-block would work perfectly as the foundation of a potent late-model power plant.
Young Dale, impressed with the fact you could buy a virtually race-ready engine over the parts counter from any Chevrolet dealer, was immediately smitten with a case of bowtie fever. He knew then that he would eventually have a dealership of his own and have the same things available to his customers.
As he clawed his way through the late model stock ranks on local short tracks, he was carrying on the Earnhardt legacy left to him with Ralph's passing in 1974. "Ralph's boy," as he was known at the time, displayed an ability that gained him national notoriety. It wasn't long before Dale was elevated into the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, relying on Chevrolet power throughout the bulk of his meteoric journey.
Within a year he had clinched a victory, Rookie of the Year honors and was well on his way to becoming a household name. Through the 1980's he claimed two Winston Cup championships (1980/1986), both behind the wheel of a Chevrolet.
In 1987, Dale took his relationship with Chevrolet to another level by clinching his third championship and becoming the nation's newest Chevrolet dealer. This was his first off-track business venture and it fulfilled a long-standing desire of his to become a Chevrolet dealer.
On July 16, 1987, Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet opened in Newton, NC, on Highway 16 South. The name alone generated a newfound interest in the dealership. Earnhardt relied on a name from his past to make sure things ran smoothly, by making Tom Johnston his General Manager. Johnston, in Earnhardt's formative years, had provided sponsorship and automotive parts to the fledging racer.
The two collaborated to create the annual "Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet Open House" where Earnhardt and other NASCAR stars signed autographs for the public. This event would draw over 8,000 visitors in a single day.
As it stands today, Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet is one of Catawba County's most visited tourist attractions. All created to continue the Earnhardt Legacy in Catawba County.