On Sunday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is driving a car with a paint scheme meant to memorialize his father. But he might remember this year's Father's Day as his first big race that he owned his own name.
Earnhardt Jr. told NASCAR.com that on Friday night, he and his stepmother, Teresa Earnhardt, agreed to terms to legally transfer rights to his name back to him. Terms of the deal were not disclosed by the Web site.
Earlier this week, ESPN.com reported that Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s name was in fact owned by his stepmother Teresa, the third and last of his father's wives, and that in order to use his own name in licensing and endorsement deals, he had to be granted permission from her.
News of the transfer has not yet been recorded at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, likely because the deal was struck past the close of business on Friday.
Records from the government agency show that soon after Dale Sr. died in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500, the rights to Dale Jr.'s name automatically were transferred to his father's estate. As the executor of the estate, Teresa then transferred the rights to Dale Jr.'s name to his father's trust and eventually to herself.
Of the 20 Nextel Cup drivers whose names are trademarked, Dale Jr. was the only one who did not have the rights to his own name.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org