There are tears in the NASCAR family this week with the sad news that Brenda Jackson, the mother of NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr., ex wife of racing legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. and longtime employee of JR Motorsports, died at the age of 65 after being diagnosed with cancer.
“Miss Brenda, we thank you for the all memories and the laughter. The office won’t be the same without you. Rest in peace,” tweeted JR Motorsports, where Brenda was an accounting specialist beginning in 2004. They also made a video in her honor.
Miss Brenda, we thank you for the all memories and the laughter. The office won’t be the same without you. Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/CtPxq6VNWHREAD MORE— JR Motorsports (@JRMotorsports) April 22, 2019
JR Motorsports which announced Brenda’s passing did not specify the type of cancer to which she succumbed.
Brenda’s son Dale won the Daytona 500 race twice. But NASCAR was long in her blood. Brenda’s father, Robert Gee, was a NASCAR fabricator who built cars for various racers including the legendary Dale Earnhardt Sr, Brenda’s then husband, who won a total of 76 Winston Cups over the course of his NASCAR career until he tragically died on the Daytona International Speedway in 2001.
Brenda Gee and Dale Earnhardt were married in 1972 and had two kids – Kelley and Dale Jr. The two separated, and Brenda later married Norfolk firefighter Willie Jackson in 1985. At that time, she returned to the heart of NASCAR in North Carolina to be with her children and work for JR Motorsports.
Dale Earnhardt was killed in a crash on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
“I am a very, very lucky woman, as I get to interact with my kids almost every day,” she said last year. “I’ve got two bright, beautiful kids that I am very proud of. Kelley’s standards are very high. She conducts herself that way and she expects that of everyone else. Dale Jr. just gets bigger and bigger. I am very proud of his accomplishments, but as a mother I am proudest of the way he handles himself with honesty and the way he cares about his family and his friends.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., son of the late Brenda Jackson and semi-retired NASCAR driver
Brenda was a big supporter of her son’s decision to leave professional race car driving due to concussions in 2017. “Because of his history of having concussions, one more could be catastrophic,” she said at the time. “He’s worked too hard. He doesn’t have to do it any more, so go enjoy life.”
“He and (wife) Amy want to be able to do other things and hopefully have a family,” she continued. “There’s so much out there for him to enjoy and experience. Why risk it when you don’t need to? … In my mind, he’s done everything he wanted to do, so let’s stop and smell the roses.”
She was also a big supporter of The Dale Jr. Foundation, which raises money to support organizations that provide children who have had traumatic pasts with safe homes. The organization is dedicated to empowerment, education, wellness, hunger and hope. Her two children serve as president and vice president.
She is survived by her husband of 33 years, William M. Jackson Jr., her children Dale Earnhardt Jr. (wife Amy), Kelley Earnhardt Miller (husband L.W.), step-daughter Meredith Davis (husband Jonathan); her grandchildren Karsyn Elledge (18), Kennedy Elledge (13), Wyatt Miller (7), Callahan Davis (16), Claudia Davis (13), and Isla Rose Earnhardt (11 months); her brothers Robert Gee (wife Beverly) and Jimmy Gee; and her beloved Pekingese dog, Scully.