Dale Earnhardt Jr. Says Netflix NASCAR Series ‘Can Improve People’s Opinion of Our Sport’

Jackson Wheeler
10 Min Read


  • The Netflix series wasn’t the first for Dale Earnhardt Jr. as an executive producer.
  • Earnhardt says statistics show the majority of the people that started the program watched it to its conclusion, which he believes speaks to its good content.
  • The five-part docuseries follows the 16 drivers competing for the 2023 championship through the 10-race playoffs.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. says the Netflix Series NASCAR: Full Speed will elevate the sport, but it needs to continue for several seasons to impact the fan base.

“Netflix is gonna have a lot of people see this documentary that have never seen a NASCAR race. Never thought to tune into a NASCAR race, much less go to one in person,” says Earnhardt, one of the show’s executive producers. “They’re gonna watch a show on Netflix because that’s their personal habit, their activity that they do in the evenings during the week when they get home from work.

“If we can lock in and get several seasons on Netflix, we have that potential to grow our audience (in person as well as on TV) … improve our position in society and improve people’s opinion of our sport.”

Earnhardt says statistics show the majority of the people that started the program watched it to its conclusion, which he believes speaks to its good content. He was pleased with the series overall. However, in the fifth and final part of the series, he would liked to have seen more coverage of Ryan Blaney’s activities after he won the NASCAR Cup championship at Phoenix Raceway.

“I know that he had to stay late,” Earnhardt says. “He was still standing on the race track when I got back in North Carolina, still taking pictures. I would have loved to have figured out a way for us to capture that part, showing what the driver experiences. It would have been nice to tag on to the back end of the episode so it wouldn’t have felt like we rushed to the edge of the cliff, and it was over. It would have been nice to have had a cool-down lap.

“The first four episodes were a very, slow, casual, get-to-know everybody storyline and then the last episode felt hurried. In my opinion, it was because of the anticipation and anxiety or the nervousness of that final event.”

The Netflix series wasn’t the first for Earnhardt as an executive producer. The owner of Dirty Mo Media became interested in the profession after he retired as a driver. Many people mark the beginning of his producing days with the show Back In The Day that aired on the Speed Channel. He also has done historical automotive-based shows on the Discovery channel.

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The docuseries followed the 16 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff drivers through the grind of the postseason.

When he joined NBC Sports, people were introduced to Lost Speedways. He had a third season of that show ready to go and was waiting on a network to pick it up. Earnhardt enjoys creating a show and then overseeing its production. It’s a passion he hopes to fulfill in 2025 when he joins Amazon Prime Video and Warner Bros. Discovery Sports.

“They’re going to need additional content and programming on their platforms to help introduce their customer base to NASCAR outside of just the races themselves,” Earnhardt says. “I want to help build that programming. I’m absolutely excited about that.”

Earnhardt was with the Netflix show, which made its debut in late January, from its inception. The five-part docuseries follows the 16 drivers competing for the 2023 championship through the 10-race playoffs. Produced by Word + Pictures and NASCAR Studios, NASCAR asked Earnhardt to be involved in the project. The NASCAR Hall of Fame member was asked to suggest storylines and drivers to interview.

“To be honest, it was not a ton of work,” said Earnhardt, even though it took a year to produce. “We got together on several occasions. We kind of all had a like minded approach to it. Even the drivers were eager to make it great. You didn’t feel like you were playing tug-of-war with some entity that’s necessary for success of the program.”

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Denny Hamlin embraced the spotlight of Neflix during the filming of “NASCAR: Full Speed.”

Denny Hamlin immediately recognized the series potential and was heavily involved and featured in it. Earnhardt admitted Hamlin had a personal agenda since he’s one of the series top drivers and he co-owns 23XI Racing with former NBA star and cultural icon Michael Jordan.

“He had a lot of things that he’s trying to shine a light on,” Earnhardt says. “He was motivated, and he knew the Netflix opportunity was going to be incredible.”

Still, there were those drivers who were apprehensive. Earnhardt understands that uneasiness. He said the drivers’ apprehension comes from not having full control over what the public will see.

“The drivers don’t want to be presented in a way that they don’t feel is genuine,” Earnhardt says. “I was surprised the drivers were as open as they were. If we’re lucky enough to have a second season, I think they’ll be more comfortable.”

“The drivers don’t want to be presented in a way that they don’t feel is genuine.”

The drivers conversing among themselves resulted in Joey Logano, Christopher Bell and others giving access that had never been permitted previously. Earnhardt cited Hamlin and NASCAR champion Ryan Blaney as probably more comfortable in front of the cameras than the other drivers.

“The temperament from the drivers about his project was different and good,” Earnhardt says. “I think them all communicating together to get behind it was probably what helped the program the most.”

While there have been complaints that the Netflix Formula One series “Drive to Survive” had manufactured drama between the drivers, Earnhardt says none of “NASCAR: Full Speed” was scripted.

“I don’t think any of them really know how to be scripted,” Earnhardt said. “Denny certainly performed. Denny’s smart and saw the opportunity to share with people who he is, what he’s about. He talks about being misunderstood, so this was his opportunity to kind of shine a light on who he is even at home.”

However, if the Netflix series does go into a second season, Earnhardt admits that manufactured drama is a valid concern because drivers don’t want to be pushed in directions they don’t want to go or don’t feel is realistic.

“They are in control of that,” Earnhardt says. “They can be firm … saying they want their genuine self to be portrayed … but still allow us into those spaces where we can really see what’s going on behind closed doors.”

Lettermark

A North Carolina native, Deb Williams is an award-winning motorsports journalist who is in her fourth decade covering auto racing. In addition to covering the sport for United Press International, she has written motorsports articles for several newspapers, magazines and websites including espnW.com, USA Today, and The Charlotte Observer. Her awards include the American Motorsports Media Award of Excellence, two-time National Motorsports Press Association writer of the year, and two-time recipient of the Russ Catlin award. She also has won an award in the North Carolina Press Association’s sports feature category.  During her career, Deb has been managing editor of GT Motorsports magazine and was with Winston Cup Scene and NASCAR Winston Cup Scene for 18 years, serving as the publication’s editor for 10 years. In 2024 she was inducted into the NMPA Hall of Fame. 

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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