Saturday, October 13, 2012

A special message for Dale Junior

   Amanda Gardstrom, the daughter of former NASCAR driver, Fred Lorenzen, found some special meaning in Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s announcement on Thursday that he would sit out the next two Sprint Cup Series races to help his recovery from two concussions in the past six weeks.

   James shared the message on her dad's Facebook page and provided permission for The Observer to re-post it here:

   From Fred's daughter to Dale Jr. and his fans:

   What a smart, educated and courageous choice you have made. I commend you for thinking of the importance to rest and take care of your brain. It's a tremendously difficult hard choice you've made to sit out. You have given your family, friends and fans a wonderful gift. I have never spoken publicly about this, but you have now made it OK for me. Many of you know my Dad suffers from dementia. This is serious stuff ... head injuries should be taken incredibly seriously. My Dad was and still is as tough as nails. In his racing career he suffered 2 severe head traumas and concussions and never took a break to heal. The one at Darlington he promised to travel home and see a doctor. He never did. He got right back in the car and drove ... being tough and doing what he loved. He suffered another concussion that was also very bad, those are the 2 we 'knew' of. Soon after, he had terrible headaches, blurred vision and more. He refused to see a doctor because he's 'tough.'

   I love my Dad more than anything and would give the world to have had him sit out of those races when he just got right back in the car. It's clear he suffers from what they call chronic traumatic encephalopathy, most common in football players and wrestlers. Only a brain biopsy will confirm it, but he has every symptom on the list. It was once called 'punch drunk' syndrome. If my Dad knew now what getting back in the car would do, he would be sitting out too. For himself, his fans and for the family he loves so much. I miss him being just my 'Dad' every day.


   So ... Dale Jr. , you've found a new special fan today (me) and your family will be forever grateful. You are not only a talented driver, but a smart and thoughtful one. If only we had the knowledge back then of head injuries, my Dad would be sitting with me in good health today, playing with his grand babies and living happily at home . Thank you from the bottom of my heart for standing up and doing this. You're making a difference for your later life and hopefully for NASCAR.

   With love and honor, Amanda

   (Fred Lorenzen's daughter)