Dale Earnhardt Jr. has probably gotten a fair share of weird questions thrown his way during his lengthy time in the spotlight. But, when the retired NASCAR driver fielded several questions from fans during an August 2018 episode of the Dale Jr. Download podcast regarding paranormal encounters, he recalled an experience that's just about as weird as it gets.
At first, while admitting that he did, in fact, believe in the existence of "paranoia activity" (an unintentional mispronunciation of "paranormal activity"), Junior reiterated that he had never encountered any ghosts or spirits himself. Then, with some help from his co-host Mike Davis, he remembered the time when he actually did have an otherworldly experience following a fiery wreck at Sonoma Raceway in California in 2004.
WATCH: Dale Jr. Crashes Corvette During ALMS Warm-up in 2004
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was feeling pretty confident in his racing in 2004. He had pulled off a career-high third-place finish in the NASCAR Cup Series standings the previous year, and followed up his impressive performance with a win at the Daytona 500 to start the '04 season. By the time July rolled around, Dale Jr. had racked up three Cup wins and an additional six top-five finishes. In Dale's mind, he was more than ready to jump into an another type of racing.
The 2004 Grand Prix of Sonoma was the fourth race for the 2004 American Le Mans Series season held at Infineon Raceway, which is now Sonoma Raceway. It took place on July 18, 2004, and Dale Jr. was intent on qualifying for it. Driving a Chevrolet Corvette C5-R for Corvette Racing, Dale did put up a successful qualifying run, but disaster struck during warm-up the morning of the race. After going off course, Earnhardt collided with the barrier, causing a fuel line to rupture. Things got worse from there after the fuel line sparked and the car was engulfed in flames. Dale Earnhardt was trapped in the Corvette, suffering second- and third-degree burns to his neck, chest, and legs before someone pulled him out and rescue crew members brought him to safety.
While he is no doubt thankful for being saved from the fiery crash that day, he still have no idea who pulled him out of the burning Corvette. When he asked folks on the scene after the fact who his savior had been, they all said that no one had pulled him out of the car. His initial response was "Bullshit," but today, which he recalled in the 2018 podcast segment, he doesn't discount that the rescue couldn't been pulled off by an supernatural entity.
"When I wrecked in the Corvette in 2004 at Sonoma -- it caught fire -- somebody pulled me out of that car," Earnhardt said. "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. I didn't get out. I don't have any memory of myself climbing out of the car. And I remember sort of moving like in motion 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."
Whoever (or whatever) rescued Dale Jr. that day, one thing's for sure: he's damn sure lucky they did.
This post was originally published on August 15, 2018.