"I’m thankful that I got to tell her I loved her before she left.”
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To those in the motorsports' community, Martha Earnhardt was the matriarch of one of NASCAR's most famous families. Mother to the Intimidator, NASCAR Hall of Famer, the late Dale Earnhardt, and grandmother to his equally famous son. But to Dale Earnhardt Jr., his siblings, and his cousins, she was "Mamaw."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. In Black Coat
Credit: Streeter Lecka / Staff/Getty Images

Martha Earnhardt died Christmas day at the age of 91. The news was confirmed in a statement released by her grandchildren, Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The statement read, in part, "Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers, and we thank you so much for loving our Mamaw as if she were your own. She was not just the matriarch to our family, but she was the matriarch to multiple generations of race fans."

As NASCAR.com reports, Martha Earnhardt remained in the modest family home in Kannapolis, North Carolina, and was an active member of the community. She was "frequently meeting visitors at the statue in her eldest son's likeness in the cozy downtown. She waved a ceremonial green flag at the tribute plaza's groundbreaking in 2002. She also welcomed guests into her home for travelers on the 'Dale Trail' of racing landmarks around Cabarrus County."

Dale Jr. also took to Instagram to share a heartfelt tribute to his grandmother with a series of family photos. His message read, "I'm thankful that I got to tell her I loved her before she left. What a life she lived. What amazing things she saw and experienced during her 91 years. I hope we are all so lucky to live such a full life and leave it so peacefully. Until we meet again…"

Martha was preceded in death by her husband Ralph and sons Dale, Randy, and Danny. Danny died just two weeks ago at age 66. She leaves behind daughters Kaye and Cathy, 11 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.

We send our most sincere condolences to the entire Earnhardt family.