Monday, February 11, 2013

Vote No on Prop 3

It’s started again.  Richard Childress is talking about bringing the No. 3 back to Cup.

The reason?  He says the fans want it.

Well here’s one fan that doesn’t.  And if you don’t either, better let Richard know now before it’s too late.

Of course the number hasn’t been run in a Cup race since Dale Earnhardt was killed driving the car in the 2001 Daytona 500.  The next time the team ran, it was a white No. 29 car, which Kevin Harvick soon drove to victory at Atlanta in one of the most emotional races in NASCAR history.   At the time Childress doubted he would ever run the No. 3 again and said if he did – it wouldn’t be on a black car.

Childress first floated the proposition of returning the No. 3 to the Sprint Cup ranks more than a year ago.  He pointed out the number belonged to Richard Childress Racing and that he had run the No. 3 himself, keeping the number when he became a car owner and hiring Earnhardt.  He’s also been running the No. 3 in the Camping World Truck series and Nationwide series for his grandsons – Austin and Ty Dillon.  He proposed bringing it back when one of them reached the Cup ranks, saying it would only be used for family – his and Earnhardt’s.  His statements caused a flurry of reaction at the time and nothing much more was said. 

Jump ahead to 2013.  Ty will run a No. 3 truck for the entire series and a few races in the No. 33 Nationwide car.  Austin will run the No. 3 car in the Nationwide series.    He’ll also compete in a handful of Cup races, with an eye on running for Cup rookie of the year in 2014.  He’s entered in the No. 33 RCR car for the Daytona 500.  During the recent NASCAR media tour, Childress said he’d heard from a large number of fans who wanted to see the No. 3 back on the track in Cup and that he’s considering it.  Of those reaching out to Childress, he said about 85 percent were in favor of bringing the number back.

“Right now we don’t have any plans of running the 3 anytime in the future,” Childress said.  “But who knows what may happen between now and the next few months.  If it’s in the family with Austin and Ty or a young Earnhardt someday, who knows?

As a grandfather, seems like a lot of pressure to put on a grandson.  Tough enough breaking into Sprint Cup, let alone trying to live up to Dale Earnhardt’s legacy.  Austin says he’s open to it, but hopefully not until next year when he runs the full Cup schedule.

Sorry, I’d rather not see it happen at all.

I know that NASCAR doesn’t retire numbers.  I wish it did.  I know Richard Petty brought back the No. 43.  I wish he hadn't.  But it was his number and it’s his team.  Petty supports bringing back the No. 3.  So does Dale Junior. 

I know there’s a long list of great drivers who drove the No. 3 prior to Earnhardt.  In fact you could build a Hall of Fame around those who drove the No. 3: Junior Johnson, Paul Goldsmith, David Pearson, Buddy and Buck Baker, Ricky Rudd, Dick Rathmann, Charlie Glotzbach, LeeRoy Yarbrough, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Johns, Fireball Roberts, Marvin Panch, Bobby Isaac and Fred Lorenzen, just to name a few.  The list of car owners is almost as impressive, including Ray Nichols and Ray Fox.  And I know Earnhardt won his first NASCAR title driving the No. 2.

But to me -- and I suspect many others -- the No. 3 will always be Earnhardt.  No one else had the success he did in that car, nor the dominating personality that accounted for so much of the growth in the sport.  The Yankees had some pretty good ballplayers wear No. 7, but to me No. 7 will always be Mickey Mantle. 

There’s another reason for RCR to bring back the No. 3. 


The team went from four to three cars last year after losing sponsorship.  Kevin Harvick has already announced he’s moving to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 and there’s a possibility he could take sponsor Budweiser with him.  Paul Menard’s three-year family sponsorship at RCR is up at the end of this season and he’s shown a tendency for jumping from team to team.  Jeff Burton’s contract also is up at the end of 2013, as is Caterpillar, his primary sponsor.  Burton hasn’t won in four years and unless things change drastically, I can’t see why either side would want to continue the relationship next year.  So at moment, RCR has no veteran drivers and no sponsors under contract for 2014.  Not a very good situation for a team that didn’t show much in 2012.

Now add the No. 3 into the mix.  What sponsor wouldn’t want to be on the side of the car?  It’s why ESPN featured the No. 3 car last year in its promotions for the Nationwide Series.  Sure there might be some sponsor backlash from diehard Earnhardt fans, but it would certainly be the most photographed car on the track and receive substantial television coverage.  The No. 3 also remains number one in die cast sales and a new No. 3 would only add to that margin,.  From a sponsor's standpont, it’s a no brainer.

What sponsor?  Goodwrench?  Nope.  General Motors has done away with the brand.  AdvoCare is currently on the black No. 3 for the full Nationwide season.  What’s AdvoCare?  Good question.  According to its web site, “A premier health and wellness company offering world-class energy, weight-loss, nutrition, and sports performance products along with a rewarding business opportunity.”  Not exactly what I would have in mind for the return of the No. 3.

I’m sure the No. 3 means more to Childress than anyone else, including the Earnhardt family.  I don't believe the decision will come down solely to money.  I'm sure he will consider it carefully before making a decision.  But if it really is the fans that has Childress considering bringing back the No. 3, than those of us who disagree need to make our voices heard.  

There's no ballot box, but vote No on Prop No. 3 at


  1. i guess you could win alot of races "wreckin "people. yeah, thats what i remember. me personally, I'd like to see austin ride that 33. long live the skoal bandit!

  2. Forget the bulk of the reasons, they are all eye wash. The real reason is of course to cash in on the nostalgia regarding Dale Sr.
    In addition to that Childress knows that there is a time limit on the value of the #3. With every year that goes by less people have a real recollection of Dale Sr. After all its been 12 years now since his death.
    So he wants or needs to do something soon, or the big payday wont be there.

  3. So many premises and most of them wrong. Richard Childress does not own the #3; NASCAR does. It's that simple. Richard has paid each year to keep it, and NASCAR has quietly looked the other way when the number does not appear on track. That of course, is due to the circumstances of Dale's death.
    NASCAR is not in the business of retiring numbers. They did not retire the #43 and they will not retire the #3. As for rights to the number, who could make a better case than Richard, who drove the #3 himself before turning it over to Dale.
    The one thing Richard Childress does hold is a copyright on the "Stylized #3" that appeared on Dale's cars and now appears on the cars/trucks of his grandsons, Austin and Ty Dillon.
    All else relating to Dale Earnhardt is under the control of his widow, Teresa Earnhardt. She retains control over any use of his name, likeness and most other ways that folks might use to exploit him for their personal gain.
    Richard Childress and Dale Earnhardt were the best of friends in life and those that knew them know that Dale would be completely comfortable with any decision made by Richard... and he would laugh at the huge deal some folks make over a number. Dale never read a contract... never. He trusted Richard to do right by him and just signed them unread.
    Sponsorship these days is taken where it's found, and gratefully so. Really good drivers are without full sponsorship today. Anyone willing to put their name on the car of a rookie will be warmly received, whether they are selling insurance or gravestones. Desperate times require desperate measures.
    There was and is no bigger fan of Dale Earnhardt than I am. When Austin is ready to move to Cup, I sincerely hope he does so in the #3, no matter the color or sponsor. It's time; it's well past time.

    1. As usual, you are right on all points here, PattyKay.

  4. People need to let it go. Dale Earnhardt drove the numbers 2 and 15 also, do we need to keep them off the track. It is time to bring the 3 back. There were many others who drove the 3 and there should be many others who will drive the 3 in the future. Anyone saying the number should be retired, has no clue what the sport is about and Dale himself would call you crazy if he were alive and here today.

  5. nope i don't want to see #3 in cup any time soon. petty retired, as have other drivers. #3 was earnhardt/childress.....earnhardt was killed in that car......the history of that car will be always earnhardt, just as the 24 will be gordon. drivres today don't have a number for "life". all i see it as trying to pull in souvenior dollars. no.3 back on track. i don't care if it's childress' grandsons or not, no no.3.

  6. Bring the # 3 back.....period!!

  7. get a LIfe you Losers

  8. They use # 8 Joe Wetherly # 22 Fire Ball Roberts 3 51 Neil Bonnet and other nudied mbers that drivers died in , and yes Dale Earnhart was speecial , however the others were also .

  9. I have No problem bringing back the 3 but don't paint the car black.

  10. Richard Petty held the #43 for one year and didn't run it. NASCAR told him to use it or lose it.

    In my opinion, NASCAR should have done the same thing with the #3. Use it or lose it.

    You people look at Earnhardt like he was a god. He was just a race car driver. And, a dirty one at that.

    Says... Ed in Savannah