KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With dreary weather on Saturday, World of Wheels in Bartle Hall was a warm choice for many in the metro. The big draw was NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. coming out to meet fans.
Only 500 fans got to meet with the two time Daytona 500 champ. For many it was a dream come true.
“It was incredible,” Amy Morasch from Overland Park said. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine.”
“It means a lot because, every Sunday me and my family always watch it and I really liked his dad racing too,” 12-year-old Ceara Anderson from Lawrence, Kansas, said.
“It was great!” Mike Barton from Blue Springs said. “He’s a real nice guy, very friendly, very personal. He’s been doing these autograph sessions and we get to meet him, and it’s on a much slower pace so he has time to visit with you a little bit.”
“He’s just a human person even though he’s in the spotlight, and then he wrote a book and it really got us a chance to see the inside of him, a deep inside to see what he’s been through, and why he made the decision not to race anymore,” Morasch said.
For Austin Oots this long line is nothing compared to how far he’s come to meet Dale Jr.
“Been a fan since day one,” Oots said. “Since I was a little boy I’ve been chasing Dale around America speedway to speedway. Never got the signature, and now I’m getting the chance here.”
From Daytona, to the Kansas Speedway, and finally Kansas City. For Oots it’s not just about fast cars. It’s about family.
“Growing up my dad raised me,” Oots said. “We both watched Dale Junior together. So, that’s my guy. His dad dying and stuff like that. Personal connection.”
Oots got through the line and got to tell Dale Junior how excited he was as he signed a car and photo for him.
“How`s it going, Dale Junior?,” Oots said. “I just wanted to say I’ve been chasing you all around America to get this autograph. Here we are in Kansas City. I appreciate it, brother.”
Even if it was just for a few moments, it’s a dream come true. Oots says he can’t wait to tell his dad he got to meet their favorite race car driver.
“I can’t really explain it,” Oots said. “It was just emotion. Emotional for sure. Pretty cool guy though. I love him.”
If you missed Dale Junior there’s still a lot to see. The car show is at Bartle Hall for one more day on Sunday from 10 to 6 in the evening.