Dale Earnhardt Jr looks on during practice for the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Call 811 Before You Dig 250 at Martinsville Speedway
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Went From Being a Mechanic at His Dad's Dealership to NASCAR's Richest Driver

Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran his final season as a full-time NASCAR driver back in 2017, but even in retirement, the 47-year-old is busier than ever, hosting a popular podcast, working as a broadcaster for NBC Sports, and owning a number of profitable businesses. With an estimated net worth of $300 million, Junior's come a long way from working as a mechanic in his dad's car dealership, that's for sure.

Sure, being the son of Dale Earnhardt Sr. does come with its perks, but it doesn't guarantee success, especially of the magnitude that Junior has achieved over the years. He may not have garnered even close to the same Cup Series accolades as his father, but he did earn himself the moniker of "The Pied Piper of Daytona" for his two wins and six additional top-three finishes at the Daytona 500. Add on his two NASCAR Xfinity Series championships, his 15-time Most Popular Driver awards in the Cup Series, and his 2022 induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and it's clear that Earnhardt definitely paid his dues in the sport.

Though, as you're about to see, a lot of Dale's millions didn't just come from his prowess behind the wheel of a stock car.

Making Mega Millions With Hendrick Motorsports

Dale Earnhardt Jr celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the 2014 Daytona 500

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Ralph Dale Earnhardt Jr. (that's right, his first name is actually Ralph, after his grandfather) started his full-time NASCAR career in 1998, driving the No. 8 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in the Xfinity Series. His total earnings that year, the same year he won his first Xfinity title, were $1,332,701.

It took a few more years for Dale Jr. to start making the really big bucks. From 2004 to the year of his retirement, Earnhardt made at least $20 million in salary and endorsements. His net worth really shot up when he left DEI for Hendrick Motorsports in 2008.  During his first year with the team, he earned a career-high $30 million, and for the next eight years in a row, he was the highest-paid driver in NASCAR.

Not surprisingly, Dale Jr. brought in a huge chunk of change from endorsements. In his heyday, Junior earned anywhere from $1 million (2000) to $23 million (2008) a year on endorsement deals. From 2000-2007, Junior was sponsored by Budweiser, and sponsorship on his race car was worth a NASCAR-high $1 million per race. He also had such personal endorsement sponsors as Nationwide, Chevrolet, Axalta, Goody's, TaxSlayer, and Wrangler. Then, there's merchandising. Junior's merchandise sales often represented a whopping 25% of NASCAR's sales and twice as much as any other driver. Looks like he was most popular driver all those times for a reason.

When he retired in 2017, Dale Jr. had amassed $410 million in career earnings. He may not be the GOAT of NASCAR, but he's definitely the GOAT of making money in NASCAR.

Junior's Ventures Outside of NASCAR

Dale Earnhardt Jr stands in the garage area during practice for the 2017 Apache Warrior 400 at Dover International Speedway

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been involved in a number of businesses over the years, both inside and outside the world of NASCAR. Some have flopped, and some are still going strong to this day.

In 2003, Dale and his stepmother Teresa Earnhardt founded Chance 2 Motorsports. While the company went out of business in 2006, Junior found much more success with JR Motorsports, a NASCAR Xfinity and Truck Series team that he co-owns with his sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller and legendary team owner Rick Hendrick.

Not surprisingly, Dale also got into the car dealership game, opening Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Buick-GMC-Cadillac in 2012 in Tallahassee, Florida alongside Hendrick. Dale has also been involved in some more outside-of-the-box fields. In 2013, he partnered with NY Eye Inc. to start his own line of eyeglass frames, and he co-owns FilterTime, an air filter subscription service, with former NASCAR driver Blake Koch. Junior is also really passionate about the food and beverage industry, as he is the co-owner of the Whiskey River Beer and Wings restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina and also announced the release of his own vodka brand, High Rock, in January 2022.

Media is really where Dale Earnhardt Jr. shines, both in front of the screen and behind the scenes. Of course, he's a broadcaster for NASCAR on NBC and also the co-host of the super popular The Dale Jr. Download podcast. He also runs the content company Dirty Mo Media and owns media production company Hammerhead Entertainment, which produced a couple shows for the Speed Channel and ESPN2 back in the day. Junior also has some solid movie credits to his name (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Herbie: Fully Loaded, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon) and has appeared in a host of TV shows and music videos.

Oh, and Dale Jr. is also the executive director of iRacing, as well as part of the management committee. I don't know when the hell this guy gets any down time.

What Does Dale Earnhardt Jr. Spend His Money On?

Dale Earnhardt Jr signs autographs prior to the start of the 2018 Daytona 500

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

When Dale Jr. first started out with NASCAR in the late '90s, he was dirt poor. As he recalled in a episode of The Dale Jr. Download back in 2017, that first major NASCAR paycheck went towards something that every guy in their mid-20s can relate to wanting to have.

"I was living in a trailer and I had a roommate, Josh Snyder. He builds motor coaches. He just moved to Oklahoma."

"But Josh and me have been great friends for a really long time. We lived in this trailer and we had a old TV that was given to us. I kept bustin' and kept having to send it off to get it fixed."

"So, when I got some money. Me and him actually went to the the Power [company] to pay our power bill. Instead of mailing it in, we'd drive over to the store in the strip mall and pay it."

"We're standing there, getting ready to pay our power bill. I turn around and there's this nice entertainment system sitting in the corner."

"I was like, 'Josh! Look at that man!' and so we bought it."

"We were pumped."

Now, Dale has definitely been able to afford some nice things with his money over the years. He and his wife Amy owned a pirate ship themed-home in Key West, Florida, which sold for $3 million in 2021. Today, he lives in a massive compound in Mooresville, North Carolina on 200 acres. He has a solid car collection, and he used to own a Cessna plane, though it crashed back in 2019. But, despite having some solid rich-guy amenities over the years, Dale lives a relatively frugal life. In fact, most of the time he doesn't even keep his wallet on him.

"Probably 50% of the time, I leave the house unintentionally without my wallet," Dale Jr. said in a NASCAR press conference back in 2017. "And it's a pain in the butt because I go over JR Motorsports, and I don't have my key to get in the door, and I have to get someone to come down there and get me in, which is a little embarrassing for the boss and the guy who owns the building. But I really don't spend money. I don't really go buy stuff."

I guess you really don't need your wallet when you're Dale Earnhardt Jr. It's not like he's getting ID'ed anywhere.

MORE: A Young Dale Earnhardt Jr. Interviewing His Dad Is a Wholesome NASCAR Throwback Moment