The National Enquirer Has Developed a Love Affair of NASCAR Drivers

Kelly CrandallSenior Writer IFebruary 25, 2010

People just can’t help themselves.

When it comes to wanting to know every little thing about everyone, some people will stoop to no low to find out. That’s why magazines like People fly off the shelves each week and why Perez Hilton can sit behind his computer screen and be famous for nothing.

Actually, my bad. I’m mistaken. Taking celebrity photos, writing fake captions, or drawing weird pictures on them are jobs someone has to do—or the world as we know it would end.

Do I really need a 30-second newsbreak to hear about Justin Timberlake cuddling with his girlfriend backstage during a charity event and how cute it was? I’m sure it was cute, but so was the song I was listening to.

That’s what the world has come to: 30-second radio spots as you're driving on the latest celebrity news that you just have to know. Why is it supposed to be my business what he does? Why would it make a difference in my life if he does or doesn’t love his girlfriend?

Do I care that Kate Gosselin cut her hair, or grew it out, or cut it again? Or how hurt she is about her failed marriage? No, I don’t—so get off my TV screen and magazines and stop looking for attention.

Yet through it all, there has always been one publication that has stood above the rest when it comes to reporting on celebrity news: the National Enquirer. 

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While some people will read tabloid magazines like the Enquirer and believe what they read—Jesus appeared on a pancake, UFOs kidnapped someone from his or her bed, and Elvis rose from the dead—when NASCAR drivers make an appearance in the magazine, you're always going to get a laugh.

Everyone needs a good chuckle—and if you want one at the expense of your favorite NASCAR driver, then the National Enquirer is for you. Not often will you find a story in there that is completely true—most of the time, it's just looking for entertainment value.

Case in point: Not only is Dale Earnhardt Jr. NASCAR’s most popular driver, but he also seems to be the National Enquirer’s favorite story. During the past few months, two false stories have been written about the driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet.

First, however, was the one from 2004 that featured not only Earnhardt, but also fellow drivers Jamie McMurray, Elliott Sadler, and Martin Truex Jr.—who identified himself to others as Tony Stewart. According to the Enquirer , Earnhardt and his fellow racing buds engaged in “naked hot tub parties” with many girls while on spring break.

The article also stated that Earnhardt was “punched out during a booze-soaked weekend” in Florida. After the story broke, Earnhardt denied it—and even last year still said it wasn’t true.

But then he had a confession to make: “The hot tub story was kind of true,” he said back in November. “Filling it up with beer, well, who hasn’t done that?”

Since that 2004 article, whenever Earnhardt spoke, it wasn’t just people in the NASCAR world who were listening: The Enquirer was, too. Last year, after he admitted that it was physically and emotionally exhausting to run so bad, the magazine wrote another piece—but this time, it wasn’t as funny as the hot tub one.

Titled Dale Earnhardt Jr. In a Death Spiral , the article alleged that he was going through different girlfriends and drinking too much. It also claimed that he is haunted by his father's death and fighting with everyone—and friends close to him feared the worst.

Those "friends" were identified only as sources close to the driver.

The magazine's funny that way: Whenever you read an article out of the National Enquirer, ever notice how there are never any names involved—it’s always "sources?"

Earnhardt and those close to him once again denied that the piece was true—but that wasn’t the end of it.

Most recently, the magazine claimed that Earnhardt is engaged in a war with his new employee, Danica Patrick. According to sources, Earnhardt is furious that Patrick is saying she’ll be better than him in stock car racing and talking behind his back. 

Representatives from JR Motorsports say all is well in the company and that they all got a good laugh from reading the article. 

Earnhardt isn’t the only target of the National Enquirer, though: Teammate Jeff Gordon has had his 15 minutes of fame on a few occasions. Last year, the last time he appeared in the magazine—in an article titled NASCAR Gordon Wife Fear his wife, Ingrid, was allegedly begging him to retire because she feared he was going to be seriously hurt.

Once again, “insiders” were giving all the quotes and information.

Said Gordon of the piece: “I’m sure you didn’t get as big a chuckle as I did. When it’s the National Enquirer , we just don’t respond because it’s usually a joke. There are different forms of media. The National Enquirer is one that I don’t put too much thought into.

“It’s entertainment—and I just hope other people recognize that. I feel like 40 to 50 percent of what’s in the National Enquirer has some validity to it. But in this case, I’d say it’s 100 percent wrong.”

The Enquirer was also 100 percent wrong by featuring Gordon in the Who's Gay and Who's Not edition that the magazine did. Luckily, the debate on the four-time champion ended with the magazine saying he wasn’t gay.

Even clean-cut and vanilla as some call him, Jimmie Johnson has made the National Enquirer . When Johnson was married in 2005, pictures of he and wife, Chandra, leaving the church were published in the magazine.

And speaking of Johnson, just a few weeks ago, a headline appeared on another tabloid: the National Examiner , claiming Jimmie Johnson Killing NASCAR .

And the subtitle had the quote: “He’s the champ—but he’s so boring!”

While some might roll their eyes at the stories that are published, as Gordon said, it's important to remember that the publication is most likely looking for the entertainment aspect of it. To make money, the staff knows that if it mentions celebrities—and especially popular NASCAR superstars—no matter how ridiculous the piece may be, fans are going to buy it just to see what the magazine says.


In America today, money can be made from doing just about anything, thanks to society being so nosy and always wanting to be in everyone's business. So as long as the drivers aren’t suing the magazine and can laugh it off, I guess we fans can, too.

Besides, you have to admit you are going to be curious when you're standing in line at the store and the crazy headline on the magazine is staring at you. 

Roll with the flow and have fun with it.

Or you can be like me—I'm strapped for cash, so maybe I should find an application for the National Enquirer. I’ve heard I have quite the imagination… 

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