When I came onto the racing scene, Dale Earnhardt was already a well established driver, having been driving for decades already.
NASCAR fans either loved him, or loved to hate him. They called him ‘The Intimidator’ and when other drivers saw him in their rearview mirror it usually meant they were about to be passed.
Dale would come up on drivers and ‘rattle their cage’, so to speak. The other driver would be so concerned with Dale that they would eventually make a mistake and Dale would overtake them.
Dale won 7 NASCAR Championships to tie Richard ‘The King’ Petty. Since then, Jimmie Johnson has also won 7 Championships.
Dale wanted to win the Daytona 500 his whole career. He finally did it in 1998, on his 20th attempt.
I was there that day and when Dale came down Pit Road, headed towards the Winner’s Circle, every team came out to congratulate him. It was quite amazing to see.
In 2001, Dale died in a terrible crash at the same track, The Daytona 500. He was blocking for his son and another driver when his car was clipped in the back.
He spun and drove straight into the wall at nearly 200 mph. He was killed instantly.
Here is a photo the instant he died. I was at that race also and we were working with Dale through sponsorships at the time. It was a sad night when we heard the news.
NASCAR fans mourned the loss of the toughest driver to ever race.
Daytona International Speedway erected a statue in his honor.
I try to go see it every time I’m at Daytona.
It’s one of the coolest monuments I’ve ever seen. The likeness is unreal and he’s holding the Daytona 500 trophy.
Dale was also known as the ‘The Man in Black’.
After dale died, that whole season NASCAR honored him by maintaining radio silence during the 3rd lap of every race, 3 being his number.
This silence included the tv broadcasters so there was no audio on the 3rd lap of any kind. Pretty amazing tribute.
Dale is also known for ‘The Pass in the Grass’ at 1987’s The Winston race when he slid off into the grass yet still was able to pass Bill Elliott to win the race.
At the time of his death, he had earned more money than any other driver in history.
By 2000, 25 percent of NASCAR’s $1.1 billion merchandising sales went to Earnhardt-related items.
Earnhardt’s auto-racing business, Dale Earnhardt, Inc., expanded exponentially, eventually making $41.6 million, with 200 employees and three cars on the NASCAR circuit.
The company had a corporate jet, a helicopter, and a 76-foot yacht, and the work area at DEI was so big that his mechanics called it the “garage-mahal.”
Earnhardt once summed up his driving style by saying, “I want to give more than 100 percent every race, and if that’s aggressive, then I reckon I am.”
He also said of driving, “It’s not a sport for the faint of heart.”
Dale’s Awards and Achievements: Seven Winston Cup Series Championship Wins (1980; 1986; 1987; 1990; 1991; 1993; 1994); 1979 Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year Award; 2001 Winston Cup Series “Most Popular Driver”; 1998 (Named one of NASCAR’s Top 50 Drivers of All Time); 2002 Motorsports Hall of Fame Inductee; 2006 International Motorsports Hall of Fame Inductee; 2010 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee
The season Dale died, his merchandising haulers were signed by fans all over the country. These are the pics I took.
The notes were sometimes very sad to read because you could tell his fans were hurting.
He had a merchandising hauler for several years after his death.
Following the death of Dale Earnhardt, the #3 car was officially retired from racing until the 2014 season. Kevin Harvick was named by Richard Childress as Earnhardt’s replacement, but drove under the banner of the #29 car.
Dale Earnhardt has multiple roads named after him. A street in Kannapolis,, North Carolina (his hometown) currently bears the name “Dale Earnhardt Boulevard.”
Earnhardt first earned his nickname “The Intimidator” during the 1987 All-Star Race in Charlotte, North Carolina during his famous “Pass in the Grass” moment.
This title was extremely fitting for Earnhardt who became well-known for his aggressive driving that none could match.
One of Dale’s 1990 race cars sold for a record fee and the Barrett Jackson Auto Auction.
It’s hard to believe that Dale died when he was 49. I’m older than Dale now, but I’ll always consider him my elder.
Dale once said, “Second place is just the first place loser.” No truer words were ever uttered.
I like a lot of drivers but Dale is at the top. What’s not to like about “The Intimidator’ and ‘The Man in Black’.
I made this collage after Dale died by using some of the photos from our company. I’ll always be a fan.
That completes this NASCAR 101 Course. Give yourself 3 Credits towards Graduation. Congratulations on your Quest for a Degree from The Universite de Arachnida.
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Dr. Spider Michaels, Phd.