Dale Jarrett was born in 1957 to Ned and Martha Jarrett in Hickory, North Carolina and continues to live there today. His father won two championships and was very successful during the 1960's. Dale did not really give much thought into being a racer himself, in fact he enjoyed hanging out with some of the other kids at the racetrack; kids like Kyle Petty, the son of Richard Petty, the King. In high school, Jarrett, was a star on the basketball, golf and baseball teams.
"I knew that he was going to be a professional athlete of some sort because he had so much God-given talent," Ned Jarrett said. "I really thought he was going to be a pro golfer more than anything else." 1
In fact, Dale was offered a scholarship
to the University of South Carolina
but was not interested in studying.
Jarrett became married at the age of 18 and started working at the track, Hickory Motor Speedway, that his father owned. At the track Jarrett did everything from making popcorn to taking tickets. On his website, Dale describes himself during this time:
"You could say I lacked direction," Jarrett said. "But every day during lunch, I'd set up my little driving range behind the racetrack and hit balls into an empty parking lot. I was really into golf before racing came along." 2
It was shortly after starting to work at the track that he got involved in his first race.
Along with two of his friends, Jimmy Newsome and Andy Petree started working on a race car. Ned gave Dale the money for the engine for the car and the rest is almost history. Jarret started in his first race around the tiny .363 mile track in 25th place and finished in 9th place. After finishing the race, Winston Cup champion Bobby Isaac, who was watching the race told Ned that he couldn't believe how smooth and good Dale looked driving.
Dale never looked back after that first race. While he wasn't always making the money he is now, he and his wife Kelley have always remained close. In 1984, Jarrett drove in his first Winston Cup race and then went on to race full time in 1987. His first win however was in 1991 when he won the Champion Spark Plug 500 at Michigan International Speedway while racing for the Wood Brothers.
Jarrett won the Daytona 500 in 1993, with Joe Gibbs Racing and 1996 with Robert Yates Racing, but only the last four seasons have been his best. Jarrett is currently racing under Robert Yates Racing driving the number 88 UPS Ford. Jarrett has finished third in the championship race twice and in 1994 lost to Jeff Gordon by only 14 points. In 1999, Jarrett won his first ever championship.
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