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'Lil' Dale' carries the mark of a champion

Staff Writer

INTERLACHEN -- She's only 4 months old, but this kid has all the makings of a star.

Make that "markings" of a star.

Meet Lil' Dale, a goat with one heck of a coat that has race fans flocking to this tiny town west of Palatka.

The brown, Nubian goat was born with a distinctive white "3" - the number of racing legend Dale Earnhardt - on her right side.

So while poised to become the darling of the NASCAR set, Lil' Dale's owners hope this one-of-a-kind kid also can make it in showbiz.

Besides, owner Jerry Pierson said, if a Chihuahua can hawk tacos and a gecko can sell car insurance, why can't a goat get a piece of the spotlight too?

"How couldn't she be something to NASCAR or auto racing," Pierson pondered. "All you have to do is put an oil can in front of her and it'll sell."

Although a Gainesville advertising agency has offered to market Lil' Dale, Pierson is taking a lighthearted approach to the kid's potential celebrity status.

But this is new territory for Pierson and his wife, Laura, a retired schoolteacher, who have been raising animals for the past 26 years.

Ever since Lil' Dale popped up on a few local newscasts, racing fans and curious onlookers have headed down the narrow road that leads to the Piersons' farm.

"It's weird," Pierson said. "I've seen people take pictures and get tears in their eyes."

Onlookers swear that the image on Lil' Dale's other side is that of a classic ghost.

"One woman said 'Man, she gives me chills,'" he added.

When they're home, the Piersons field questions from onlookers who gather along the farm's fence to get a peek at Lil' Dale.

The big question, of course, is always: "Is this for real?"

Pierson said there's no painting, shaving or anything else involved in Lil' Dale's signature coat. She was just born that way, he said.

"One friend of mine said 'Well, how did you do it?'" he said. "It's just goat hair. You figure it out."

Lil' Dale actually comes from a long line of award-winning show goats, Pierson said. Her grandmother was a champion, so was her mother, he said.

So despite being born on a meat and dairy farm - gulp - Lil' Dale's future, whether it be in Hollywood or Interlachen, is fairly secure, Pierson promised.

"She's show quality," he said.

One thing is certain - Lil' Dale won't be headed to Daytona Beach for this week's race.

"I don't think all that noise would be good for her," he said.

The Piersons have no problem with race fans coming to them, just so long as there isn't a caravan of RVs parked alongside the narrow roadway.

Just like Earnhardt's car on the track, Lil' Dale is pretty easy to spot.

"I can see her from 5 or 6 acres away," Pierson said. "I can see her like a neon sign."

The Piersons are NASCAR fans as well. And, not surprisingly, they're rooting these days for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"Earnhardt fans are the best in the world," Pierson said. "He may be gone, but the fans are still Earnhardt fans."

-- Cherri (whatever@who.cares), July 04, 2002


If any goats born here had a number, it would likely be 666. That number in combination with goaty horn and goaty horizontal irises would get us burn at the stake.

-- helen (three@tres.trinity), July 07, 2002.

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