Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a little help when he crashed on a raceway in 2004 — help from beyond, that is.
In a new episode of The Dale Jr. Download, his podcast, Earnhardt Jr. opened up about the strange encounter when the conversation shifted to ghosts and spirits.
“I do believe in paranoia activity,” Earnhardt Jr. said, laughing before correcting himself: “Paranormal.”
Continued the 43-year-old retired stock car racing driver, “I think that our personalities and our souls have so much — we’re so much more than just blood vessels, and bone and muscle… Haunted places? Sure.”
Earnhardt Jr. — who is now a commentator for NASCAR, among other things — asserted that he’d never seen a ghost, though, before being reminded of one such encounter.
Noting that it was a “little dark and morbid and heavy” — and that his fans might think he’s “a loony” — Earnhardt Jr. recounted, “When I wrecked in the Corvette in 2004 in Sonoma and it caught fire, somebody pulled me out of that car.”
“And I thought that it was a corner worker because I felt somebody put their hands under my armpits and pull me out of the car,” continued Earnhardt Jr. “I didn’t get out. I don’t have any memory of myself climbing out of the car.”
During a practice session for an American Le Mans Series race at the Sonoma Raceway in California in 2004, Earnhardt Jr. was sitting in his vehicle when it exploded into flames in a minor crash, according to Fox Sports. The athlete was badly burned in the accident.
Continued Earnhardt Jr., “And I remember sort of moving like in motion, like going to lean forward and try to climb out of the car, and then something grabbed me under the armpits, pulled me up over the door bars and then let go of me. And I fell to the ground, and there’s pictures of me laying on the ground next to the car. I know that when I got to the hospital, I was like, ‘Who pulled me out of the car? I gotta say thanks to this person,’ because it was a hand! It was physical hands grabbing me! I felt it.”
“And there was nobody there,” he said. The moment, he said, “would be probably the closest thing” to a paranormal encounter that Earnhardt Jr. has experienced — “if it’s real.”
In an interview with 60 Minutes the year of the crash, Earnhardt Jr. shared a similar account of the experience, and noted he thought he felt the presence of his father, Dale Earnhardt, who died in a 2001 race.
“I think he had a lot to do with me getting out of that car,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “Absolutely. I don’t know how else to put it. I don’t want to put some weird psycho twist on it, like he was pulling me out or anything, but he had a lot to do with me getting out of that car. From the movement I made to unbuckle my belt, to laying on the stretcher, I have no idea what happened. How I got out.”
Continued Earnhardt Jr., “I don’t have an explanation for it other than when I got into the infield care center, I had my PR man by the collar, screaming at him to find the guy that pulled me out of the car. He was like, ‘Nobody helped you get out.’ And I was like, ‘That’s strange, because I swear somebody had me underneath my arms and was carrying me out of the car. I mean, I swear to God.”
He added at the time, “It freaks me out today just talking about it. It just gives me chills.”