NASCAR & Auto Racing

Dale Earnhardt Sr. died just before his custom yacht was delivered. You can own it.

Sunday Money, the 100-foot Hatteras yacht that NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. had custom-built but never got to enjoy, can be yours for $4.2 million.

That’s what Earnhardt’s dream boat lists for on national yacht broker sites.

Earnhardt selected the layout, interior and other features for the yacht, which took more than a year to build, Avery Brooks, associate brand manager for Hatteras Yachts of New Bern, told The Charlotte Observer in a phone interview Wednesday.

Earnhardt died in a last-lap crash at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 18, 2001.

Sunday Money.JPG
Screen grab of Denison Yachting You Tube video of Sunday Money

The yacht “was close to completion” when Earnhardt died, former Hatteras Yachts Captain Gary McKeel told the Observer in a phone interview Thursday.

About a month after the Daytona 500, McKeel said, he joined Earnhardt’s boat captain, Terry Jones, in piloting the yacht from New Bern to Dale and Teresa Earnhardt’s marina slip in Palm Beach, Fla. “Two or three guys from the (Hatteras Yachts) factory” were also aboard, according to McKeel.

McKeel said he and the other Hatteras Yachts employees were then flown back to North Carolina on Dale Earnhardt’s private jet.

The yacht was hand-built to replace a 74-foot 1989 Hatteras motor yacht that Dale Earnhardt bought used and had refitted for deep-sea fishing, according to Brooks and Kevin Shoemaker, who owns the 74-foot yacht berthed at Port Canaveral, Florida. That yacht also is for sale, for $390,000, because Shoemaker and his wife are moving inland, he told the Observer. Eight “Winston Cup Champion” hats remain aboard.

Earnhardt also had a 50-foot sport fishing yacht named The Intimidator, Brooks said. That was Earnhardt’s most famous racing nickname. Teresa Earnhardt still owns the sport fishing yacht, berthed at Cable Marine in Fort Lauderdale, Brooks said.

‘Down-to-earth’ despite star status

Baird Paschal, Hatteras Yachts customer service manager, recalled in an interview Thursday how Earnhardt was such a “down-to-earth person” despite his celebrity status.

“NASCAR in those days was a big deal here, and it didn’t make a difference if you were a man or a woman,” Paschal said. “Miss America came one time and didn’t get nearly the attention Dale Earnhardt did” from the Hatteras Yachts workforce, which then numbered 700 to a thousand, he said.

On one of his visits to Hatteras Yachts, Paschal recalled, the seven-time Cup champion gave a Dale Earnhardt racing T-shirt to every worker. He then took the time to sign each shirt when the workers lined up for his autograph, Paschal said.

Earnhardt ‘touches’ remain

Many of the custom features Dale and Teresa Earnhardt incorporated into the yacht remain, despite two subsequent owners, Mike Fine of Denison Yachting, a longtime yacht broker founded in Florida, told the Observer on Thursday.

Fine is the broker for the third and latest owner of the yacht, who he said wishes to remain anonymous. Fine is based in Montauk, Long Island, N.Y., where he said the owner lives. Sunday Money summers there and winters in Fort Lauderdale, Fine said.

Sunday Money is among only three such 100-foot Hatteras yachts for sale on the U.S. market, according to Denison Yachting and other longtime U.S. yacht brokers, such as Galati Yacht Sales and Atlantic Yacht & Ship Inc.

The other two yachts are Vesper of Hillsboro Beach, Fla., which is a 2002 version selling for $3 million, and Supernova of Fort Lauderdale, built in 2003 on the market for $3.4 million, according to their listings on those and other yacht broker sites.

Dale Earnhardt victory lane
NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt sprayed champagne over his wife and crew in Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway after winning the 1998 Daytona 500, his first victory in NASCAR’s biggest race, on his 20th attempt. Jeff Siner

Teresa Earnhardt eventually sold Sunday Money, according to a 2015 article in The Trident, a nautical news publication.

A subsequent owner, whom The Trident did not name, kept features specifically to recognize Earnhardt’s role in the history of the yacht. Those include its original Makore fiddleback woodwork “and Earnhardt’s custom compass rose design found in the flooring and several window etches,” according to the publication.

Fine said all of the Earnhardts’ “subtle nuances on the boat have not been touched,” from the peninsula shape of the galley to the interior African walnut and marble countertops.

The original silver remains, including plates with a cursive “D” for Earnhardt’s first name, Fine said, and a custom Snap-on tool box in the engine room.

Flag on the bow honors Earnhardt’s role

According to its listing and a Denison Yachting video of Sunday Money, the yacht also features:

Two 1,850-horsepower Detroit Diesel Corp. engines.

The galley’s crystal and china displays, two Sub­-Zero refrigerators-freezers and other amenities.

A “wide-open” aft deck on the bridge that is “built for lounging,” according to Denison Yachting’s video.

Five state rooms.

Formal dining area with burl wood table that seats eight.

Step-down, full-service bar in the salon.

The yacht underwent a 2012 refit with everything from a new transom and digital stabilizer to new wireless networking and carpets, according to the yacht’s listing.

Denison Yachting’s Sunday Money YouTube video makes no mention of Earnhardt’s past ownership. Yet a No. 3 Dale Earnhardt flag flaps in the breeze on the bow of the yacht at the end of the 9-minute, 31-second video.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.