NASCAR Sonoma Notebook: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chose Significant Spot For Surprise Proposal

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Photo:  Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

SONOMA, Calif. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. had been planning to pop the question, and he chose a place of important historical significance to his family.

During a recent trip to Germany, Earnhardt proposed to long-time girlfriend Amy Reimann at a venerable church in Illesheim attended by his ancestors.

“My 10th and 9th grandfather lived there, went to church there, and that church is the church that they went to,” Earnhardt said on Friday before opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Sonoma Raceway in advance of Sunday’s race (3 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1). “It’s over 1,000 years old, apparently, a very old church. The town is very old. There were 300 people living in it 300 years ago and there are 300 people living in it today. Nothing has really changed.”
Earnhardt, 40, wanted to make the trip to confirm what he had learned via internet sources about his own genealogy. He found original documents that provided first-hand evidence about his forebears.

“We went to the city of Speyer and to the archives and actually held the book that this church used to document handwritten documentation of births, deaths, baptisms,” Earnhardt said. “I could sit there and read the individual writings of my 10th grandfather, my ninth grandfather when they were baptized and when they died. I could see it with my own hands and I’m holding the book, the original book.

“So that made me more confident to make the decision to propose to Amy in that church with that connection to that church. I don’t have a church because we race on Sundays. I mean I went to St. Mark’s Lutheran in Mooresville when I was a kid, but I don’t have a church. I’m Lutheran, and if I wanted to go to church and I could, I would go to St. Mark’s. But I just thought that was a place to do it.”
For Reimann, the proposal was a complete surprise.
“I’ve been planning on it for several months,” Earnhardt said. “I was hoping for years that Amy and I would get married, and it just seemed like over this last year, it made more sense to me and that the timing was right. And I picked that particular spot just because I wanted her to feel special. We talked about this trip for a while. I told her about this trip and we talked about it for two or three years and had done a ton of work on the genealogy stuff to understand what we were doing and making sure we were doing the right thing and going to the right places.

“So, she kind of knew how important the trip was. I think to do it at that particular time, at that moment while we were in that church, may make that moment more memorable for her. And I thought it was just a great place to do it. I thought about it. Every other spot that I could think of just didn’t measure up, you know? It just wasn’t good enough or special enough for her.

“She was blown away. She certainly didn’t have an idea that that was going to happen, I don’t think.”


David Ragan thinks—and hopes—the new NASCAR Sprint Cup rules package instituted for the July 11 Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway will shift the balance of power in the series.
The rules changes include a reduction in rear spoiler height from six inches to 3.5 inches, a reduction in splitter overhang and a smaller splitter extension panel, the net effect of which will be a significant reduction in downforce.
“Kentucky—that’s going to really change the dynamic of what the Cup series looks like,” Ragan opined at Thursday’s Sonoma Raceway luncheon in San Francisco. “If some teams really hit on this new aero package, it could be a big deal.

“If we continue to run the (new) aero package at all the downforce tracks, which I think is going to happen, it could change the landscape of who we normally see up front.”
In early May, Ragan replaced Brian Vickers in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota after Vickers suffered a recurrence of blood clots, a condition that has sidelined Vickers periodically over the past five years. Ragan began the season with Front Row Motorsports before spending nine races in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Camry, subbing for injured Kyle Busch.
The way Ragan sees it, the new rules could bring a significant reshuffling of the series.
“I think everyone at Toyota and MWR, if we can make some of the right decisions and build some of the cars that are suited for this aero package, we could find ourselves in a good spot for the summer months,” Ragan told the NASCAR Wire Service.

“It’s not just a small little change. This change is going to move the needle. It changes the aero balance of these cars, and so the setups that we’ve been running—I’m no engineer, so don’t expect me to get too technical with you—but I think it shifts the balance enough and moves the needle enough … the good guys are still going to be good, but it’s definitely going to restructure some of the front-running guys, in my opinion.”


Before opening practice on Friday, Sonoma Raceway and Save Mart Supermarkets announced a five-year extension of Save Mart’s co-title sponsorship of the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at the 1.99-mile road course. … Clint Bowyer, the 2012 winner at Sonoma, led opening practice with a lap at 95.547 mph. Kyle Busch, who scored his only victory at the track in 2008, topped the speed chart in final practice at 96.175 mph. … One of the pre-race favorites, road course ace AJ Allmendinger, was second fastest in opening practice but 23rd during Happy Hour. Five-time Sonoma winner Jeff Gordon was 15th quickest in the first session and sixth in final practice in preparation for his last race at the road course as a full-time driver.

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