DALE EARNHARDT JR. SAYS HIS DECEASED FATHER MAY HAVE PLAYED
A ROLE IN HIS ESCAPE FROM A BURNING RACECAR --
WEDNESDAY ON "60 MINUTES" ON CBS
Dale Earnhardt Jr. narrowly escaped death when his racecar was engulfed in flames in Sonoma, Calif. Earnhardt says he doesn't remember what happened during the 14 seconds it took him to get out of the car, but he tells correspondent Mike Wallace that, although the thought still gives him chills, he believes his deceased father had a lot to do with his survival. Wallace's wide-ranging interview with Earnhardt will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Wednesday, Sept. 29 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Earnhardt knows that death and danger are occupational hazards. The sensors in his modified Corvette burned out at 750 degrees -- just one second after his car caught fire this summer in Sonoma. "�At that moment, you think of everything�you think, '�This would really suck if it's the way I'm going out,'" he tells Wallace.
Earnhardt's father was killed three years ago during the final lap of the Daytona 500 race, but Junior tells Wallace that it was his father who helped him escape from the burning car in July. "I think he had a lot to do with me getting out of that car," says Earnhardt. "�I don't want to put some weird, you know, psycho twist on it like he was pulling me out or anything, but he had a lot to do with me getting out of that car. From the movement I made to unbuckle my belt to lying on the stretcher, I have no idea what happened�."
The feeling was so real that when he reached safety, he began inquiring about the "person" who helped him out of the burning car. "I had my�PR man�by the collar screaming at him to find the guy that pulled me out of the car," recalls Earnhardt. "He was like, 'Nobody helped you get out,' and I was like, 'That's strange because I swear somebody�had me underneath�my arms and was carrying me out of the car.' I mean, I swear to God." Wallace asks, "And that was your dad?" Earnhardt responds, "Yeah, I don't know. You tell me. It�freaks me out today just talking about it. It just gives me chills."
Josh Howard is the executive producer of 60 MINUTES and John Hamlin is the producer of this report.