Martha Earnhardt, matriarch of the ‘first family’ of racing, dies at 91

The most influential family in American racing history experienced nothing short of a tragedy over the Christmas weekend.

According to the Washington Examiner, Martha Earnhardt, the grandmother of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and the matriarch of the “first family” of racing, has died at the age of 91.

The news was made public via a joint statement released on Twitter by Dale Jr. and his sister, Kelley Earnhardt.

Remembering “Mamaw”

The Earnhardt family clearly adored their matriarch, as they had warm words for “Mamaw,” the mother of racing legend Dale Earnhardt.

“As we grieve her loss and begin to imagine life without our beloved ‘Mamaw,’ we find solace in knowing she is at peace in eternal glory and in joyous reunion with her husband, Ralph, and sons, Dale, Randy and Danny,” the statement announcing Martha Earnhardt’s death read.

“Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you so much for loving our Mamaw as if she were your own,” it added. “She was not just the matriarch of our family, but she was the matriarch to multiple generations of race fans.”

Martha Earnhardt was the wife of stock car racing legend Ralph Earnhardt, who passed away in 1973.

A memorable life

Not only was Martha Earnhardt the matriarch of one of the most storied sports families in U.S. history, but she was also no stranger to the track herself. The Examiner noted that she often competed in women’s events prior to the main events in which her husband raced.

She was also a notable figure in the local community, not just for her last name, but because she led local efforts to encourage children to read more books. The Kannapolis, North Carolina native was also honored as a grand marshal of the 2017 Kannapolis Christmas Parade.

Those in the racing community offered their condolences to the Earnhardt family on social media, and tributes to Martha Earnhardt began pouring in over the weekend.

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