US star NASCAR driver Earnhardt weds

Washington (AFP) - Dale Earnhardt Jr., a second-generation star driver in America's most popular auto racing circuit, announced Sunday on Twitter he married long-time girlfriend Amy Reimann on New Year's Eve.

The ceremony took place in front of friends and family as well as some of Earnhardt's rival racers in the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR).

The two had dated since 2009 and announced their engagement in June 2015.

"Happily married!!! What an amazing experience. Looking forward to the rest of our lives @Amy_Reimann. #honeymooners," Earnhardt tweeted.

Reimann, who changed her last name to Earnhardt on Twitter, acknowledged the nuptials only by tweeting: "I sure wish my husband would wake up! @DaleJr."

The wedding took place in North Carolina at Childress Vineyards, owned by NASCAR race team owner Richard Childress.

Other drivers attending included Danica Patrick, who posted on Instagram that she caught the bouquet, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex.

Earnhardt, who missed the last 18 races of the 2016 season after a concussion in a crash at Michigan, has been medically cleared to resume NASCAR competition when the 2017 campaign launches at next month's Daytona 500.

The 42-year-old American is the son of Dale Earnhardt Sr., the NASCAR legend who was killed in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500. The elder Earnhardt won seven career NASCAR season crowns, matching Richard Petty and 2016 champion Jimmie Johnson for the all-time record.

Earnhardt Jr., a two-time Daytona 500 winner, has been selected NASCAR's most popular driver 14 years in a row from 2003-2016. He has 26 career triumphs, the most recent at Phoenix in 2015.