A MAN IN FULL
By the 1980s Earnhardt Sr. had come a long way from his dirt-track beginnings. (Far right, the crew films scenes at East Lincoln.) During that decade he was at his intimidating best and won Winston Cup championships in '80, '86 and '87. Earnhardt's two biggest partnerships also began in the '80s: He teamed up with car owner Richard Childress in '84 (they would go on to win 62 races together), and two years earlier he married Teresa Houston (right, actress Elizabeth Mitchell). That partnership produced 19 years of marriage and a daughter, Taylor Nicole, who was born in '88.
SON OF A GUN
Producers had a difficult time finding an actor to play Dale Jr. until a chance meeting between Pepper and 19-year-old Chad McCumbee (right), a racer and instructor at the Fast Track High Performance Driving School in Harrisburg, N.C., and a business major at UNC Charlotte. Pepper, who was taking a class at McCumbee's school to prepare for his role, was struck by McCumbee's resemblance to Junior and invited him to call the local production office of the movie. McCumbee later read a few lines with Pepper and won the part. He plays Earnhardt Jr. between the ages of 15 and 27.