Earnhardt Jr., Jarrett coming to Orrville for race rally

Earnhardt Jr., Jarrett coming to Orrville for race rally

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Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is racing royalty. Dale Jarrett, like Earnhardt, is a NASCAR Hall of Famer. Josh Berry perhaps hopes to be one someday.

The three drivers will converge for a late-July evening get-together at Jarrett Companies in Orrville.

The second annual Jarrett Race Rally, featuring Earnhardt, Jarrett and Berry, will take place Thursday, July 28 from 4-7 p.m. at the Jarrett Headquarters, 1347 N. Main St., Orrville. Admission to the brief event is free and will feature food, music, games, prizes and a Q-and-A session with the three current and former NASCAR drivers.

“We wanted to create employee engagement, customer engagement and community engagement,” Jarrett Companies President Mike Jarrett said. “I think we’re getting all three.”

Earnhardt and Jarrett both are retired after illustrious NASCAR careers. Jarrett, 65, was the 1999 Winston Cup Series champion and was a three-time Daytona 500 winner. He won 32 NASCAR races, notched 260 top-10 finishes and earned 16 pole spots over more than 660 career races from 1984-2008.

Earnhardt’s NASCAR career stretched from 1999-2017, covering 631 starts. The 47-year-old won 26 times and finished 260 times in the top 10. He started from the pole position 15 times. Shortly after missing half a year while battling concussions, he retired in 2017, though he has competed a number of times in the Xfinity Series, most recently in April.

Berry, 31, has raced twice in the NASCAR Cup series and 46 times over the past six years in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, posting four wins and 24 top-10 finishes in 46 starts.

The three men will take part in a Q-and-A session attendees may view, though not participate directly in. Questions can be submitted through Jarrett social media.

Mike Jarrett said the event is expected to draw thousands of spectators, meaning there won’t be time or space for attendees to get autographs or photos with the celebrity drivers. That said, they’ll be able to get fairly close to the NASCAR greats.

“I told Dale and Dale I think they’re going to shut down the city of Orrville for a couple of hours,” Mike Jarrett said. “It will be a fun event for the entire community.”

The event will feature food, ice cream, drinks, entertainment and emceeing by nationally known magician/illusionist Rick Smith, Jr.

During the midpoint of the festivities from 5-6 p.m., Dale Jarrett and Earnhardt will take part in the Q-and-A session on stage. It’s a step up from a year ago when the special guests were Jeffrey Earnhardt (Dale, Jr.’s nephew) and fellow racers Ryan Vargas and Colby Howard, the latter two up-and-comers on the racing circuit.

“I think we’ll keep getting better and better every year,” Mike Jarrett said. “It’s certainly a high bar. I think Dale, Jr. is the most famous NASCAR driver in the history of NASCAR, and Dale Jarrett is a legend. So having both of them be here to see fans is going to be cool.”

It’s a bar Mike Jarrett would like to try to clear with future rallies, which will depend on the company’s continued involvement with NASCAR. For now Jarrett is sponsoring Berry’s car, which will compete July 30 in the Penzoil Brickyard 150 in Indianapolis.

Jarrett has partnered with JR Motorsports, Earnhardt’s management company, and Berry’s No. 8 team for three NASCAR Xfinity Series races. Berry’s car is sponsored by JR Motorsports.

“I started thinking about how can we make it bigger and better,” Mike Jarrett said of the rally. “We reached out to JR Motorsports and worked out an agreement for Dale, Jr. to come.”

It has been almost a year since Jarrett signed Dale Jarrett to be its spokesman. Mike Jarrett and Dale Jarrett are not related. The former enjoyed watching Dale Jarrett race long ago, attracted in part by their common surname.

“We’re not related, but I always knew he was a high-character guy,” Mike Jarrett said. “So last year we kind of dipped our toe in with sponsoring NASCAR.”

Mike Jarrett flew to Charlotte, North Carolina for a photo shoot and got to know his last-namesake well.

“He’s just a great guy,” he said. “He’s a class act. He’s got integrity, character and he’s the perfect person to represent our company.”

The plan is for the Jarrett Race Rally to continue to evolve and grow. Mike Jarrett knows he’s set a pretty good precedent for things with the schedule of events this year, but the challenge of going bigger and better should provide a noble pursuit.

“We hope to keep doing it,” Jarrett said. “It kind of depends upon our role with NASCAR in sponsoring drivers. We sure would like to do it, and I think we will.”

Jarrett Companies provides logistics systems, transportation services, warehousing and fleet services. It has been recognized as one of Northeast Ohio’s top workplaces, stating, “We believe that all of our employees have the integrity, intelligence and talent to excel at their jobs, and we work to support them in their roles so they can be and achieve their best.”