Over 50 years ago a new sport was introduced. This sport was stock car racing. The organization that sponsors stock car racing is known as National Association of Stock Car Racing, NASCAR. The driver that is identifiable with NASCAR is definitely Dale Earnhardt. Over the years there have been many great stock car racers from Cale Yarborough to Richard Petty and Davy Allison, but no other name was better known than Dale Earnhardt. Whether on the track or in the crowds, there is no possible way a person can look without seeing a black number three or some other Earnhardt insignia. In first or last place, victory circle or behind the wall, the black GM Goodwrench Chevrolet could not be deprived of its respect. Who would have ever guessed that the legendary Dale Earnhardts life would be taken from him on the last lap of the biggest race of 2001?
Dale Earnhardt was born on April 29, 1952. He was raised in Kannapolis North Carolina. Dale started racing at age twelve and won his first race at age fifteen. After winning his first race Dale decided that this was what he wanted to do as a career. Dale dropped out of high school in the ninth grade. Dales parents did everything they could to try to keep him in school but they were unable to. Earnhardt would soon find out just how hard it would be on him and his future career though.
Dale Earnhardt came from a family of stock car racers. Dales father being a racer himself knew how hard it was to start racing. That is the main reason he tried to keep Dale from dropping out of high school to race. They even offered Dale a new car to keep him in high school. (1:72) Dale Earnhardts grandfather was also a racer. Dale was not very close to him though. In an interview Earnhardt said that he regretted not knowing his grandfather very well. Earnhardt also mentioned the fact that his actions as a kid were embarrassing to him now.(1:73)
Being one of the most dominant drivers on the track, Dale quickly earned the nickname the Intimidator. Dale won his first Winston Cup championship in 1980. After his first Winston Cup championship Dale went on to earn 6 more championships to tie Richard Petty with 7 victories. The nickname Intimidator fit Dale very well. He was known for causing wrecks to move himself up in the race. (1:73) After several complaints from other drivers, Dale was warned by NASCAR officials to clean up his act and drive more safe. No matter how many crashes Dale caused he was still friends with almost every other driver. Towards the end of his career Dale seemed to go backwards just as fast as he went forwards.(5:1) Dale Earnhardt always had bad luck at Daytona Super Speedway. Earnhardt dominated the 1990 Daytona 500, leading 299 out of 300 laps but cut a tire on the last lap to take himself out of the race. (1:72)
Dale got married at age seventeen. He married his high school sweetheart. They had a lot of problems in their marriage. With Earnhardt trying to get into racing and his wife trying to further her education they decided to get a divorce. Dale was twenty-four when they got divorced.(1:78) Dale remarried but that did not last long. His second wife could not handle being in the public eye. Dale decided to try getting married for the third time. This time he married a woman he met at a racetrack. Her name was Teresa. Through his three marriages Dale had three kids. Their names are Dale Jr., Kerry, and Kelly. The most well known of the three is Dale Jr. Dale Jr. is a Winston Cup racer too. He drives the number eight Budweiser car. Dale Jr. also won the 1998 NASCAR Busch Series championship.(5:1). Dale Sr. owned 3 racecars in Winston Cup. He owned Dale Jr.s car, Michael Waltrips car, and Steve Parks car. There was never one complaint about how Dale ran those cars. (6:1).
The last race of Dales life would come on February 18, 2001. Dale looked like he had a really good car through