NASCAR & Auto Racing

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on plan to drop team name that honored his dad: ‘What a shame’

Retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. criticized plans by the Kannapolis Intimidators Class A baseball team to shed the nickname that honors his racing legend dad.

“I remember how proud dad was of this,” Earnhardt tweeted about when the team adopted the name to honor his father, a Kannapolis native known as “The Intimidator” for his prowess on NASCAR tracks. “What a shame it has to end.”

Earnhardt’s tweet late Wednesday included the announcement on Twitter by the team that “as we move toward a new ballpark & a new era of baseball in Kannapolis, we are asking for your help to rename our franchise.”

Earnhardt also retweeted Cup series driver Brad Keselowski’s tweet that likewise knocked the team’s intention to come up with a new name. The team is asking fans to submit nominations for a new name on its website through Wednesday, Feb. 13.

“This name is truly the only reason anyone outside of the town knows of this team,” Keselowski tweeted. “Not sure if this is an elective change or not but if so... bad move.”

Earnhardt also retweeted a sarcastic tweet by Mike Davis, who manages Earnhardt’s brand and founded his Dirty Mo Media company.

“THIS IS A FANTASTIC IDEA! “ Davis tweeted. “Sincerely, People who double park, skinny-jean designers, fans of boy bands, drinkers of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, fans of Geoffrey Bodine, liars, cheaters, bank-robbers, and basically any (expletive) ever.”

On Thursday morning, Earnhardt tweeted again about the impending loss of the name.

“If a change is indeed imminent maybe: ‘Ironheads’ if they want to continue to honor Big E. #DoItForDale (or)‘Cannons’ if they’d like to honor some history of the town itself. #CannonMills.”

Social media reaction to the planned renaming of the team was overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the Intimidators name.

“Saddest thing I’ve read today,” Zach Beeson posted.

Posted Dave Moody: “In a community that continues to worship the late, great Dale Earnhardt, this may be the most tone deaf idea ever.”

In a separate tweet, Moody added: “... or a clever attempt to ignite a social media firestorm and gain some much-needed free publicity.”

Thomas Goris included GIFS of Earnhardt with his post. Goris seemed to summarize fan reaction by posting: “You can’t replace a legend.“

The Intimidators on Thursday didn’t publicly react to the backlash, tweeting only that it “received over 500 name submissions in the last 24 hours. Keep them coming!”

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.