CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The name is both a blessing and a burden.
The racing bloodline, that legacy of fierce competition inherited from his famous grandfather, all the recognition and opportunities that go with it -- that's the blessing.
But oh, those high expectations! Could any driver ever match the reputation of NASCAR's celebrated No. 3? Living up to the Earnhardt name, that's the burden.
Bobby Dale Earnhardt tries to ignore all that.
Yes, he's the grandson of racing legend Dale Earnhardt Sr., the "Intimidator," the man he knew simply as "Paw-paw Dale." Yes, he's proud of the name and grateful for it.
But he wants to earn his own reputation, wants to do it from the dirt tracks up, the grass roots way, just like his granddaddy did.
He's working on that right here in West Virginia.
Driving the All in One Pawn Shop No. 33 in the ARCA Truck Series, he's midway through a three-year plan aimed at an eventual slot in NASCAR.
In February, he moved to Charleston to hone the plan under the mentoring wing of pawn shop proprietor Chavela Simmons.
He's amiable, soft-spoken and remarkably unassuming, a demeanor totally at odds with the fearless, focused persona he projects behind the wheel of a race car.
The apples, as they say, do not fall far from the tree.
"I grew up mainly in Morris Hill, N.C., the heart of racing. My first memory of cars is going with my dad to the local tracks, like Hickory, and watching him race late models.
"I would be down in the pits and going in circles, following him around the track with my body. Everybody would say I didn't need to do that. I'd say, 'How am I supposed to watch it?' I finally learned to turn my head and didn't get so dizzy.
"I loved it. I was right there in the midst of everything. I started running go-carts when I was 6 or 7 with my step-granddad, my dad's adopted dad.
"Pretty much everything in our family is about racing. My brother, Jeffrey, started running U cars -- four cylinder front-wheel drive vehicles -- on dirt tracks, and I would work on his car and go to races with him. He ran a Ford Escort and jumped from that to a Malibu and street stocks and from that to late models on asphalt.
"By the time he got there, I was working for my Uncle Junior (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) on the farm. He was always on the go. You might catch a glimpse of him leaving the house. Sometimes he could come in the shop and talk to us.
"I moved from the farm to the shop and worked on the Hooters Cup car he owned. I was the tire specialist and the catch can guy who stood behind the car with a little can to catch the excess gas.
"I got a U car myself and ran at the late model track where he ran.
"I was big into electronics. Ever since I was little, I'd been tinkering with walkie-talkies, taking them apart and re-wiring them. I took everything apart. I loved everything about electronics. I took computer electronic classes in high school.
"Once I started working with my brother, I got into the mechanic side of racing. I wanted to be a crew chief. I learned a lot working with Junior. We saw him two or three days a week, and then he'd be gone. He talked to us a lot in the shop. I got a lot closer to my uncle then.