The Intimidator. That is the nickname given to Dale Earnhardt by NASCAR. Dale has been involved in racing since he was a little boy. He would accompany his father, Ralph Earnhardt, to the local race tracks and in the garage to work on the car. When Dale was questioned about his intimidation tactics, he would reply ‘That’s racing.’ Dale may not always had the fastest race car on the track but he had the best driving skills and the knowledge to drive his #3 Goodwrench Chevy to the winner’s circle numerous times.
Dale is a true legend in the racing world. He knew what he wanted and he knew how to get it. His life was racing and everything else was just gravy. There were rivalries on pit road as well as many friendships. But on the race track, it was all business. Dale wanted to win and he did what was needed to achieve that goal. No matter whether you were a fan of Dale’s or not, (race fans either loved him or hated him – no in between) there was always a generous amount of respect for his skills and talent on the track.
I had only been watching NASCAR for a couple of years when Dale tragically died in an accident on the race track in Daytona. My ex-husband and I watched the race that day. We sat on the floor playing cards with one eye on the TV. We watched Dale crash into the wall as Michael Waltip crossed the finish line, winning the coveted Daytona 500. Dale Jr. followed Michael across that finish line in second place. What a proud moment for Dale Sr. his protegee and his son took first and second. The race was over.
My ex-husband and I changed the channel and set about puttering around the house. Shortly afterwards, our phone rang which my husband answered as continued doing whatever it was I was doing. He called to me to turn the race back on.
“Dad said Dale Earnhardt died!”
“What? No Way!” I replied as I changed the channel back to the race.
Dale had survived other horrific accidents, flipping his car several times without a scratch.
Just as we had the race back on, we heard Bill France, Jr. announce to the world that Dale Earnhardt had indeed died. We were both in shock. The accident didn’t look all that bad. We just sat on the couch staring at the TV not allowing this news to completely sink in.
Eventually, we both gained our composure and got moving again. My ex cleaned out a small corner into our family room converted garage. He gathered all the Dale Earnhardt memorabilia we had around the house and built his own little shrine to the greatest race car driver NASCAR has or will ever know. That shrine stood for 3 or 4 years until we moved out of the house during our divorce.
Dale was an influential and respected driver and owner in NASCAR. His untimely death dealt a blow to race car fans and is still missed at the race track. DVD’s are available about Dale Earnhardt‘s career and his life. You can also find Dale memorabilia. He is as popular today as he has ever been.
Do you remember where you were when you heard Dale had died?