Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Family have ‘Residual Effects’ from 2019 Plane Crash

It’s been more than two years since Dale Earnhardt Jr., wife Amy and their now-3½-year-old daughter Isla Rose’s plane crash, but they’re still feeling some “residual effects.”

In an exclusive chat with PEOPLE amid the launch of their new High Rock Vodka, the couple says that even though Isla was only 15 months old at the time of the accident, their little girl still has a hard time with air travel.

“It took me about a year before I could get on the plane and just not get super nervous, but our daughter was in the plane with us too, and I think she had some residual effects,” says Amy, 39.

The mother of two explains that Isla “gets scared taking off,” so they “just hold her hand.”

“But for a while, she would tremble and shake,” Amy adds. “It was before she was talking, so we really couldn’t talk through it with her. That was hard.

Nowadays, Isla is still adjusting to the title of big sister, after her parents welcomed their second child, daughter Nicole Lorraine, in October 2020.

While Isla is “doing better” with the whole older-sibling situation now, “She didn’t want to be a big sister” at first, Amy admits.

“It was not her idea,” she quips. “So at first she really just ignored the whole thing. She didn’t pay attention to me being pregnant and didn’t want to answer questions about being a big sister.”

But now that some time has passed, “They’re playing together,” Amy shares. “I think since Nicole is old enough to talk to her and chase her around the house, she’s having a lot more fun with it.”

Earnhardt Jr. — who was recently inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame — retired from professional racing in 2017 and is continually looking to the future in terms of what he can leave behind for his girls.

“Now that me and Amy are growing our family, you certainly are thinking about your kids and that generation and beyond, and what you can pass on to them,” he explains. “So I’ve been looking at opportunities to become owners of the brands we work with and the companies we work with, take ownership in some of the projects.”

That’s part of the reason Earnhardt Jr., 47, and Amy teamed up to launch High Rock Vodka — not to mention the chance to work together.

“We’re just excited to get this vodka out there to everybody and start getting some real feedback from customers on how they feel about it,” he adds. “We’re pretty proud of it.”

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