Dale Earnhardt Jr. elaborated on his decision to pledge his brain to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) research, something he is very passionate about.
“That is very serious and personal decision,” the Hendrick Motorsports driver said at Martinsville Speedway.
The veteran NASCAR star says that a story on three former Oakland Raiders players who plan to donate their brains in honor of late teammate Ken Stabler is what prompted him to pledge his own brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation. He also noted that former professional soccer player Brandi Chastain also played a role in inspiring him.
“Hopefully the science is advanced enough that they don’t have to go poking around in my brain,” he said, later adding that he hopes “the science has advanced far beyond where it is today and they don’t need it” by the time he passes away.
Jr. also intends to visit the ‘Brain Bank’ at Boston University (where his brain would go) when the series makes its up to New Hampshire later this year, underlining his seriousness regarding the subject.
Concussions are something the 41-year-old is, unfortunately, very familiar with. He sustained two in the span of a few months in 2012, the first going undiagnosed. More recently in the realm of motorsports, Will Power was misdiagnosed with a concussion and missed the Indy Car season opener after securing pole position at St. Pete.
“I went through my experience (with concussions) in 2012 and met some amazing doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Mickey Collins was one of those guys. They gave me the confidence going through that process that I could be successful and get through it.
He went on to say that he is confident in the protocols currently in place. “I’m excited about what NASCAR has done. They have really taken this head on. They are talking to the right people. They are talking and involving themselves with the right folks to get the best information to be able to protect the drivers the best way they can.”
Dale Jr.’s desire to help others doesn’t end with his brain: “I was a donor already on my driver license so it seemed like a reasonable thing to do. Anything I can do to help others.
“I’m going to give up all the organs that are worth anything when it’s over with. They can have it all.”