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Dale Earnhardt Sr. killed in crash

Dale Earnhardt Sr. killed in crash


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On February 18, 2001, Dale Earnhardt Sr., considered one of the greatest drivers in National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) history, dies at the age of 49 in a last-lap crash at the 43rd Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Earnhardt was driving his famous black No. 3 Chevrolet and vying for third place when he collided with another car, then crashed into a wall. After being cut from his car, Earnhardt, whose tough, aggressive driving style earned him the nickname “The Intimidator,” was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead of head injuries.

Earnhardt had been involved in another crash at the Daytona 500 in 1997, when his car flipped upside down on the backstretch. He managed to escape serious injury and went on to win Daytona in 1998, his first and only victory in that race after 20 years of trying. The 200-lap, 500-mile Daytona 500, which was first run in 1959 at the newly opened Daytona International Speedway, is one of NASCAR’s premiere events as well as its season opener.

Earnhardt, whose father was a race car driver, was born on April 29, 1951, in Kannapolis, North Carolina, and dropped out of high school to pursue his own racing career. He went on to become one of NASCAR’s most successful and respected competitors, winning 76 Winston Cup (now known as the Nascar Cup) races in his career and taking home a record seven Cup championships, a feat achieved by just two other drivers in his sport, Richard Petty and Jimmie Johnson. In addition to his legendary accomplishments as a driver, Earnhardt was also a successful businessman and NASCAR team owner. The 2001 Daytona race which cost Earnhardt his life was won by Michael Waltrip, who drove for Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI). Earnhardt’s son, Dale Jr., also a DEI driver (until 2008, when he began driving for the Hendrick Motorsports team), took second place in the race.

Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s death in 2001 made him the fourth NASCAR driver to die within a nine-month period and eventually prompted NASCAR officials to implement a series of more stringent safety regulations, including the use of head-and-neck restraints.


Dale Earnhardt

NASCAR racerꃚle Earnhardt followed his father into the world of professional car racing.ꂯter garnering NASCAR&aposs Rookie of the Year honors in 1979, he followed by winning the Winston Cup championship in his second season. In total, Earnhardt — known as the "Intimidator" for his aggressive style — won a record-tying seven points championships and became the first driver to top $30 million in career earnings. He won the Daytona 500 for the first time in 1998, but was killed when he crashed at the end of the race in 2001.


Justin Wilson - Pocono - 2015

Chris O'Meara/AP

After being struck in the head by airborne debris, Wilson's car veered to the left and collided with an interior wall. He was quickly swarmed by a safety crew and taken away by helicopter.

Later at the hospital, acclaimed sports car racer Justin Wilson fell into a coma and ultimately succumbed to his injuries on August 25, 2015. He was 37.


Contents

Early and personal life Edit

Of German ancestry, [7] Dale Earnhardt was born on April 29, 1951, in the Charlotte suburb of Kannapolis, North Carolina, as the third child of Martha (née Coleman) and Ralph Earnhardt. Earnhardt's father was one of the best short-track drivers in North Carolina at the time and won his first and only NASCAR Sportsman Championship in 1956 at Greenville Pickens Speedway in Greenville, South Carolina. In 1963 at the age of 12, Dale Earnhardt secretly drove his father’s car in one of his races and had a near victory against one of his father's closest competitors. In 1972, he raced his father at Metrolina Speedway in a race with cars from semi mod and sportsman divisions. Although Ralph did not want his son to pursue a career as a race car driver, Dale dropped out of school to pursue his dreams. Ralph was a hard teacher for Dale, and after Ralph died of a heart attack at his home in 1973 at age 45, it took many years before Dale felt as though he had finally "proven" himself to his father. Earnhardt had four siblings: two brothers, Danny and Randy (died 2013) [8] and two sisters, Cathy and Kaye (died 2015)

In 1968, at the age of 17, Earnhardt married his first wife, Latane Brown. With her, Earnhardt fathered his first son, Kerry, a year later. Earnhardt and Brown divorced in 1970. In 1971, Earnhardt married his second wife, Brenda Gee, the daughter of NASCAR car builder Robert Gee. In his marriage with Gee, Earnhardt had two more children: a daughter, Kelley King Earnhardt, in 1972, and a son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., in 1974. Not long after Dale Jr. was born, Earnhardt and Gee divorced. Earnhardt then married his third and final wife, Teresa Houston, in 1982. She gave birth to their daughter, Taylor Nicole Earnhardt, in 1988. Taylor and her husband, Brandon Putnam, are professional rodeo performers. [9]

Early Winston Cup career (1975–1978) Edit

Earnhardt began his professional career in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 1975, making his points race debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina in the longest race on the Cup circuit—the 1975 World 600. He had made his Grand National debut in 1974 in an unofficial invitational exhibition race at Metrolina Speedway, where with eight laps to go he got under Richard Childress and spun out when battling for third. [10] He drove the No. 8 Ed Negre Dodge Charger and finished 22nd in that race, just one spot ahead of his future car owner, Richard Childress. Earnhardt competed in eight more races until 1979.

Rod Osterlund Racing (1979–1980) Edit

When he joined car owner Rod Osterlund Racing in a season that included a rookie class of future stars including Earnhardt, Harry Gant, and Terry Labonte in his rookie season, Earnhardt won one race at Bristol, captured four poles, scored eleven Top 5s and seventeen Top 10s, and finished seventh in the points standings despite missing four races due to a broken collarbone, winning Rookie of the Year honors. [11]

During his sophomore season, Earnhardt, now with 20-year-old Doug Richert as his crew chief, began the season winning the Busch Clash. With wins at Atlanta, Bristol, Nashville, Martinsville, and Charlotte, Earnhardt won his first Winston Cup points championship. He is the only driver in NASCAR Winston Cup history to follow a Rookie of the Year title with a NASCAR Winston Cup Championship the next season. He was also the third driver in NASCAR history to win both the Rookie of the Year and Winston Cup Series championship, following David Pearson (1960, 1966) and Richard Petty (1959, 1964). Nine drivers have since joined this exclusive club: Rusty Wallace (1984, 1989), Alan Kulwicki (1986, 1992), Jeff Gordon (1993, 1995), Tony Stewart (1999, 2002), Matt Kenseth (2000, 2003), Kevin Harvick (2001, 2014), Kyle Busch (2005, 2015), Joey Logano (2009, 2018), and Chase Elliott (2016, 2020).

Rod Osterlund Racing, Stacy Racing, and Richard Childress Racing (1981) Edit

1981 would prove to be tumultuous for the defending Winston Cup champion. Sixteen races into the season, Rod Osterlund suddenly sold his team to Jim Stacy, an entrepreneur from Kentucky who entered NASCAR in 1977. After just four races, Earnhardt fell out with Stacy and left the team. Earnhardt finished out the year driving Pontiacs for Richard Childress Racing and managed to place seventh in the final points standings. Earnhardt departed RCR at the end of the season, citing a lack of chemistry.

Bud Moore Engineering (1982–1983) Edit

The following year, at Childress's suggestion, Earnhardt joined car owner Bud Moore for the 1982 and 1983 seasons driving the No. 15 Wrangler Jeans-sponsored Ford Thunderbird (the only full-time Ford ride in his career). During the 1982 season, Earnhardt struggled. Although he won at Darlington, he failed to finish 15 races and completed the season 12th in points, the worst of his career. He also suffered a broken kneecap at Pocono Raceway when he flipped after contact with Tim Richmond. In 1983, Earnhardt rebounded and won his first of 12 Twin 125 Daytona 500 qualifying races. He won at Nashville and at Talladega, finishing eighth in the points standings.

Return to Richard Childress Racing (1984–2001) Edit

1984–1985 Edit

After the 1983 season, Earnhardt returned to Richard Childress Racing, replacing Ricky Rudd in the No. 3. Rudd went to Bud Moore's No. 15, replacing Earnhardt. Wrangler sponsored both drivers at their respective teams. During the 1984 and 1985 seasons, Earnhardt went to victory lane six times, at Talladega, Atlanta, Richmond, Bristol (twice), and Martinsville, where he finished fourth and eighth in the season standings respectively.

1986–1987 Edit

The 1986 season saw Earnhardt win his second career Winston Cup Championship and the first owner's championship for Richard Childress Racing. He won five races and had 16 top-fives and 23 top-10s. Earnhardt successfully defended his championship the following year, going to victory lane 11 times and winning the championship by 489 points over Bill Elliott. In the process, Earnhardt set a NASCAR modern-era record of four consecutive wins and won five of the first seven races. In the 1987 season, he earned the nickname "The Intimidator", due in part to the 1987 Winston All-Star Race. During this race, Earnhardt was briefly forced into the infield grass but kept control of his car and returned to the track without giving up his lead. The maneuver is now referred to as the "Pass in the Grass", even though Earnhardt did not pass anyone while he was off the track. After The Winston, an angry fan sent Bill France Jr. a letter threatening to kill Earnhardt at Pocono, Watkins Glen, or Dover, prompting the FBI to provide security for Earnhardt on the three tracks. The investigation was closed after the races at the three tracks finished without incident. [12]

1988–1989 Edit

The 1988 season saw Earnhardt racing with a new sponsor, GM Goodwrench, after Wrangler Jeans dropped its sponsorship in 1987. During this season, he changed the color of his paint scheme from blue and yellow to the signature black in which the No. 3 car was painted for the rest of his life. He won three races in 1988, finishing third in the points standings behind Bill Elliott in first and Rusty Wallace in second. The following year, Earnhardt won five races, but a late spin out at North Wilkesboro arguably cost him the 1989 championship, as Rusty Wallace edged him out for it by 12 points (Earnhardt won the final race, but Wallace finished 15th when needing to finish at least 18th to win). It was his first season for the GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Lumina.

1990–1995 Edit

The 1990 season started for Earnhardt with victories in the Busch Clash and his heat of the Gatorade Twin 125's. Near the end of the Daytona 500, he had a dominant forty-second lead when the final caution flag came out with a handful of laps to go. When the green flag waved, Earnhardt was leading Derrike Cope. On the final lap, Earnhardt ran over a piece of metal, which was later revealed as a bell housing, in turn 3, cutting down a tire. Cope, in an upset, won the race while Earnhardt finished fifth after leading 155 of the 200 laps. The No. 3 Goodwrench-sponsored Chevy team took the flat tire that cost them the win and hung it on the shop wall as a reminder of how close they had come to winning the Daytona 500. [13] Earnhardt won nine races that season and won his fourth Winston Cup title, beating Mark Martin by 26 points. He also became the first multiple winner of the annual all-star race, The Winston. The 1991 season saw Earnhardt win his fifth Winston Cup championship. This season, he scored four wins and won the championship by 195 points over Ricky Rudd. One of his wins came at North Wilkesboro, in a race where Harry Gant had a chance to set a single-season record by winning his fifth consecutive race, breaking a record held by Earnhardt. Late in the race, Gant lost his brakes, which gave Earnhardt the chance he needed to make the pass for the win and maintain his record.

Earnhardt's only win of the 1992 season came at Charlotte, in the Coca-Cola 600, ending a 13-race win streak by Ford teams. Earnhardt finished a career-low 12th in the points for the second time in his career, and the only time he had finished that low since joining Richard Childress Racing. He still made the trip to the annual Awards Banquet with Rusty Wallace but did not have the best seat in the house. Wallace stated he and Earnhardt had to sit on the backs of their chairs to see, and Earnhardt said, "This sucks, I should have gone hunting." [14] At the end of the year, longtime crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine left to become a driver. Andy Petree took over as crew chief. Hiring Petree turned out to be beneficial, as Earnhardt returned to the front in 1993. He once again came close to a win at the Daytona 500 and dominated Speedweeks before finishing second to Dale Jarrett on a last-lap pass. Earnhardt scored six wins en route to his sixth Winston Cup title, including wins in the first prime-time Coca-Cola 600 and The Winston, both at Charlotte, and the Pepsi 400 at Daytona. He beat Rusty Wallace for the championship by 80 points. On November 14, 1993, after the season-ending Hooters 500 at Atlanta, the race winner Wallace and 1993 series champion Earnhardt ran a dual Polish Victory Lap together while carrying #28 and #7 flags commemorating 1992 Daytona 500 winner Davey Allison and 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Alan Kulwicki respectively, who both had died in separate plane accidents during the season.

In 1994, Earnhardt achieved a feat that he himself had believed to be impossible—he scored his seventh Winston Cup championship, tying Richard Petty. He was very consistent, scoring four wins, and after Ernie Irvan was sidelined due to a near-deadly crash at Michigan (the two were neck-and-neck at the top of the points up until the crash), won the title by over 400 points over Mark Martin. Earnhardt sealed the deal at Rockingham by winning the race over Rick Mast. It was his final NASCAR championship and his final season for the GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Lumina. Earnhardt started off the 1995 season by finishing second in the Daytona 500 to Sterling Marlin. He won five races in 1995, including his first road course victory at Sears Point. He also won the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a win he called the biggest of his career. But in the end, Earnhardt lost the championship to Jeff Gordon by 34 points. The GM Goodwrench racing team changed to Chevrolet Monte Carlos.

1996–1999 Edit

1996 for Earnhardt started just like it had done in 1993—he dominated Speedweeks, only to finish second in the Daytona 500 to Dale Jarrett for the second time. He won early in the year, scoring consecutive victories at Rockingham and Atlanta. On July 28 in the DieHard 500 at Talladega, he was second in points and looking for his eighth season title, despite the departure of crew chief Andy Petree. Late in the race, Ernie Irvan lost control of his No. 28 Havoline-sponsored Ford Thunderbird, made contact with the No. 4 Kodak-sponsored Chevy Monte Carlo of Sterling Marlin, and ignited a crash that saw Earnhardt's No. 3 Chevrolet hit the tri-oval wall nearly head-on at almost 200 mph. After hitting the wall, Earnhardt's car flipped and slid across the track, in front of race traffic. His car was hit in the roof and windshield. This accident, as well as a similar accident that led to the death of Russell Phillips at Charlotte, led NASCAR to mandate the "Earnhardt Bar", a metal brace located in the center of the windshield that reinforces the roof in case of a similar crash. This bar is also required in NASCAR-owned United SportsCar Racing and its predecessors for road racing.

Rain delays had canceled the live telecast of the race, and most fans first learned of the accident during the night's sports newscasts. Video of the crash showed what appeared to be a fatal incident, but once medical workers arrived at the car, Earnhardt climbed out and waved to the crowd, refusing to be loaded onto a stretcher despite a broken collarbone, sternum, and shoulder blade. Although the incident looked like it would end his season early, Earnhardt refused to stay out of the car. The next week at Indianapolis, he started the race but exited the car on the first pit stop, allowing Mike Skinner to take the wheel. When asked, Earnhardt said that vacating the No. 3 car was the hardest thing he had ever done. The following weekend at Watkins Glen, he drove the No. 3 Goodwrench Chevrolet to the fastest time in qualifying, earning the "True Grit" pole. T-shirts emblazoned with Earnhardt's face were quickly printed up, brandishing the caption, "It Hurt So Good". Earnhardt led for most of the race and looked to have victory in hand, but fatigue took its toll and he ended up sixth behind race winner Geoff Bodine. Earnhardt did not win again in 1996 but still finished fourth in the standings behind Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon, and Dale Jarrett. David Smith departed as crew chief of the No. 3 team and RCR at the end of the year for personal reasons, and he was replaced by Larry McReynolds.

In 1997, Earnhardt went winless for only the second time in his career. The only (non-points) win came during Speedweeks at Daytona in the Twin 125-mile qualifying race, his record eighth-straight win in the event. Once again in the hunt for the Daytona 500 with 10 laps to go, Earnhardt was taken out of contention by a late crash which sent his car upside down on the backstretch. He hit the low point of his year when he blacked out early in the Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington in September, causing him to hit the wall. Afterward, he was disoriented, and it took several laps before he could find his pit stall. When asked, Earnhardt complained of double vision which made it difficult to pit. Mike Dillon (Richard Childress's son-in-law) was brought in to relieve Earnhardt for the remainder of the race. Earnhardt was evaluated at a local hospital and cleared to race the next week, but the cause of the blackout and double vision was never determined. Despite no wins, the Richard Childress Racing team finished the season fifth in the final standings.

On February 15, 1998, Earnhardt finally won the Daytona 500 in his 20th attempt after failing to win in his previous 19 attempts. [15] He began the season by winning his Twin 125-mile qualifier race for the ninth straight year, and the week before was the first to drive around the track under the newly installed lights, for coincidentally 20 laps. On race day, he showed himself to be a contender early. Halfway through the race, however, it seemed that Jeff Gordon had the upper hand. But by lap 138, Earnhardt had taken the lead and thanks to a push by teammate Mike Skinner, he maintained it. Earnhardt made it to the caution-checkered flag before Bobby Labonte. Afterwards, there was a large show of respect for Earnhardt, in which every crew member of every team lined pit road to shake his hand as he made his way to victory lane. Earnhardt then drove his No. 3 into the infield grass, starting a trend of post-race celebrations. He spun the car twice, throwing grass and leaving tire tracks in the shape of a No. 3 in the grass. He then spoke about the victory, saying, "I have had a lot of great fans and people behind me all through the years and I just can't thank them enough. The Daytona 500 is ours. We won it, we won it, we won it!" The rest of the season did not go as well, and the Daytona 500 was his only victory that year. Despite that, he did almost pull off a Daytona sweep, where he was one of the contenders for the win in the first nighttime Pepsi 400, but a pit stop late in the race in which a rogue tire cost him the race win. He slipped to 12th in the point standings halfway through the season, and Richard Childress decided to make a crew chief change, taking Mike Skinner's crew chief Kevin Hamlin and putting him with Earnhardt while giving Skinner Larry McReynolds (Earnhardt's crew chief). Earnhardt finished the 1998 season eighth in the final points standings.

Before the 1999 season, fans began discussing Earnhardt's age and speculating that with his son, Dale Jr., making his Winston Cup debut, Earnhardt might be contemplating retirement. Earnhardt swept both races for the year at Talladega, leading some to conclude that his talent had become limited to the restrictor plate tracks, which require a unique skill set and an exceptionally powerful racecar to win. But halfway through the year, Earnhardt began to show some of the old spark. In the August race at Michigan, he led laps late in the race and nearly pulled off his first win on a non-restrictor-plate track since 1996. One week later, he provided NASCAR with one of its most controversial moments. At the Bristol night race, Earnhardt found himself in contention to win his first short track race since Martinsville in 1995. When a caution came out with 15 laps to go, leader Terry Labonte got hit from behind by the lapped car of Darrell Waltrip. His spin put Earnhardt in the lead with five cars between him and Labonte with five laps to go. Labonte had four fresh tires, and Earnhardt was driving on old tires, which made Earnhardt's car considerably slower. Labonte caught Earnhardt and passed him coming to the white flag, but Earnhardt drove hard into turn two, bumping Labonte and spinning him around. Earnhardt collected the win while spectators booed and made obscene gestures. "I didn't mean to turn him around, I just wanted to rattle his cage," Earnhardt said of the incident. He finished seventh in the standings that year.

2000 Edit

In the 2000 season, Earnhardt had a resurgence, which was commonly attributed to neck surgery he underwent to correct a lingering injury from his 1996 Talladega crash. He scored what were considered the two most exciting wins of the year—winning by 0.010 seconds over Bobby Labonte at Atlanta, then gaining seventeen positions in the final four laps to win at Talladega, claiming his only No Bull million-dollar bonus along with his record 10th win at the track. Earnhardt also had second-place runs at Richmond and Martinsville, tracks where he had struggled through the late 1990s. On the strength of those performances, Earnhardt got to second in the standings. However, poor performances at the road course of Watkins Glen, where he wrecked coming out of the chicane, a wreck with Kenny Irwin Jr. while leading the spring race at Bristol, and mid-pack runs at intermediate tracks like Charlotte and Dover in a season dominated by the Ford Taurus in those tracks from Roush, Yates, and Penske, coupled with Bobby Labonte's extreme consistency, denied Earnhardt an eighth championship title. Earnhardt finished 2000 with two wins, 13 top fives, 24 top tens, an average finish of 9.4, and was the only driver besides Labonte to finish the season with zero DNF's.

Death Edit

During the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2001, Earnhardt was killed in a three-car crash on the final lap of the race. He collided with Ken Schrader after making small contact with Sterling Marlin and hit the outside wall head-on. He had been blocking Schrader on the outside and Marlin on the inside at the time of the crash. Earnhardt's and Schrader's cars both slid off the track's asphalt banking into the infield grass just inside of turn 4. Seconds later, his driver Michael Waltrip won the race, with his teammate and son Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishing second. [16] [17] Earnhardt's death was officially pronounced at the Halifax Medical Center at 5:16 PM Eastern Standard Time (22:16 UTC) he was 49 years old. NASCAR president Mike Helton confirmed Earnhardt's death in a statement to the press. [18] An autopsy conducted on February 19, 2001, concluded that Earnhardt sustained a fatal basilar skull fracture. [19] Days later, on February 22, public funeral services were held at the Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. [20] [21] [22]

Aftermath Edit

After Earnhardt's death, two investigations led by the police and NASCAR commenced nearly every detail of the crash was made public. The allegations of seatbelt failure resulted in Bill Simpson's resignation from the company bearing his name, which manufactured the seatbelts used in Earnhardt's car and nearly every other NASCAR driver's car. [23] NASCAR implemented rigorous safety improvements, such as mandating the HANS device, which Earnhardt refused to wear after finding it restrictive and uncomfortable. [24] Several press conferences were held in the days following Earnhardt's death. After driver Sterling Marlin and his relatives received hate mail and death threats from angry fans, Waltrip and Earnhardt Jr. absolved him of any responsibility. Richard Childress made a public pledge that the number 3 would never again adorn the side of a black race car with a GM Goodwrench sponsorship. The number returned for the 2014 season, this time not sponsored by GM Goodwrench (which was rebranded GM Certified Service in 2011), driven by Childress's grandson Austin Dillon.

At this time, his team was re-christened as the No. 29 team. Childress' second-year Busch Series driver Kevin Harvick was named as Earnhardt's replacement, beginning with the 2001 Dura Lube 400 at North Carolina Speedway. Special pennants bearing the No. 3 were distributed to everyone at the track to honor Earnhardt, and the Childress team wore blank uniforms out of respect, something which disappeared quickly and was soon replaced by the previous GM Goodwrench Service Plus uniforms. Harvick's car always displayed the Earnhardt stylized number 3 on the "B" posts (metal portion on each side of the car to the rear of the front windows) above the number 29 until the end of 2013, when he departed for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Fans began honoring Earnhardt by holding three fingers aloft on the third lap of every race, a black screen of No. 3 in the beginning of NASCAR Thunder 2002 before the EA Sports logo, and the television coverage of NASCAR on Fox and NASCAR on NBC went silent for each third lap from Rockingham to the following year's race there in honor of Earnhardt, unless on-track incidents brought out the caution flag on the third lap. Three weeks after Earnhardt's death, Harvick, driving a car that had been prepared for Earnhardt, scored his first career Cup win at Atlanta. On the final lap of the 2001 Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500, he beat Jeff Gordon by .006 seconds (the margin being 0.004 of a second closer than Earnhardt had won over Bobby Labonte at the same race a year ago) in an identical photo finish, and the images of Earnhardt's longtime gas man Danny "Chocolate" Myers crying after the victory, Harvick's tire-smoking burnout on the frontstretch with three fingers held aloft outside the driver's window and the Fox television call by Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds, and Darrell Waltrip concluding with "Just like a year ago [with Earnhardt and Bobby Labonte], but he [Harvick] is gonna get him though. Gordon got loose. it's Harvick! Harvick by inches!" are memorable to many NASCAR fans. The win was also considered cathartic for a sport whose epicenter had been ripped away. Harvick would win another race at the inaugural event at Chicagoland en route to a ninth-place finish in the final points, and won Rookie of the Year honors along with the 2001 NASCAR Busch Series Championship.

Dale Earnhardt, Inc. won five races in the 2001 season, beginning with Steve Park's victory in the race at Rockingham just one week after Earnhardt's death. Earnhardt Jr. and Waltrip finished first and second in the series' return to Daytona in July for the Pepsi 400, a reverse of the finish in the Daytona 500. Earnhardt Jr. also won the fall races at Dover (first post 9/11 race) and Talladega and came to an eighth-place points finish.

Earnhardt's remains were interred at his estate in Mooresville, North Carolina after a private funeral service on February 21, 2001. [20] [22]

Earnhardt drove the No. 3 car for the majority of his career, spanning the latter half of the 1981 season, and then again from 1984 until his death in 2001. Although he had other sponsors during his career, his No. 3 is associated in fans' minds with his last sponsor GM Goodwrench and his last color scheme — a predominantly black car with bold red and silver trim. The black and red No. 3 continues to be one of the most famous logos in North American motor racing.

A common misconception was that Richard Childress Racing "owned the rights" to the No. 3 in NASCAR competition (fueled by the fact that Kevin Harvick's car had a little No. 3 as an homage to Earnhardt from 2001-2013 and the usage of the No. 3 on the Camping World Truck Series truck of Ty Dillon when he ran in that series), but in fact NASCAR, and no specific team, owns the rights to this or any other number. According to established NASCAR procedures, Richard Childress Racing had priority over other teams if they chose to reuse the number, which they did when Austin Dillon was promoted to the Cup series in 2014. While Richard Childress Racing owns the stylized No. 3 logos used during Earnhardt's lifetime (and used presently with Dillon), those rights would hypothetically not prevent a future racing team from using a different No. 3 design (also, a new No. 3 team would most likely, in any case, need to create logos which fit with their sponsor's logos).

In 2004, ESPN released a made-for-TV movie entitled 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story, which used a new (but similarly colored) No. 3 logo. The movie was a sympathetic portrayal of Earnhardt's life, but the producers were sued for using the No. 3 logo. In December 2006, the ESPN lawsuit was settled, but details were not released to the public.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. made two special appearances in 2002 in a No. 3 Busch Series car: these appearances were at the track where his father died (Daytona) and the track where he made his first Winston Cup start (Charlotte). Earnhardt Jr. won the first of those two races, which was the season-opening event at Daytona. He also raced a No. 3 sponsored by Wrangler on July 2, 2010, for Richard Childress Racing at Daytona. In a green-white-checker finish he outran Joey Logano to win his second race in the No. 3.

Otherwise, the No. 3 was missing from the national touring series until September 5, 2009, when Austin Dillon, the 19-year-old grandson of Richard Childress, debuted an RCR-owned No. 3 truck in the Camping World Truck Series. [26] Dillon and his younger brother Ty Dillon drove the No. 3 in various lower level competitions for several years, including the Camping World East Series. [27] In 2012, Austin Dillon began driving in the Nationwide Series full-time, using the No. 3 he had previously used the No. 33 while driving in that series part-time.

Richard Childress Racing entered a No. 3 in the Daytona truck race on February 13, 2010, painted identically to when Earnhardt drove it, but with a sponsorship from Bass Pro Shops. It was driven by Austin Dillon. It was involved in a wreck almost identical to that which took the life of Earnhardt: being spun out, colliding with another vehicle, and being turned into the outside wall in turn number four. He walked away unscathed. [ citation needed ] Dillon again returned to a No. 3 marked racecar when he started fifth in the 2012 Daytona Nationwide Series opener in an Advocare sponsored black Chevrolet Impala. On December 11, 2013, RCR announced that Austin Dillon would drive the No. 3 car in the upcoming 2014 Sprint Cup season, bringing the number back to the series for the first time in 13 years. [28]

Only the former International Race of Champions actually retired the No. 3, which they did in a rule change effective in 2004. Until the series folded in 2007, anyone wishing to use the No. 3 again had to use No. 03 instead. [ citation needed ]

Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo chose the number 3 as his permanent racing number when F1's rules changed to allow drivers to choose their own numbers for 2014 and stated on Twitter that part of the reason for his choice was that he was a fan of Earnhardt's, [29] while his helmet design features the number stylized in the same way.

"Earnhardt Tower", a seating section at Daytona International Speedway was opened and named in his honor a month before his death at the track. [30]

Earnhardt has several roads named after him, including a street in his hometown Kannapolis. Dale Earnhardt Boulevard (originally Earnhardt Road) is marked as exit 60 off Interstate 85, northeast of Charlotte. Dale Earnhardt Drive is also the start of The Dale Journey Trail, [31] a self-guided driving tour of landmarks in the lives of Earnhardt and his family. The North Carolina Department of Transportation switched the designation of a road between Kannapolis and Mooresville near the headquarters of DEI (that used to be called NC 136) with NC 3, which was in Currituck County. In addition, exit 72 off Interstate 35W, one of the entrances to Texas Motor Speedway, is named "Dale Earnhardt Way".

Between the 2004 and 2005 JGTC (renamed Super GT from 2005) season, Hasemi Sport competed in the series with a sole black G'Zox-sponsored Nissan 350Z with the same number and letterset as Earnhardt on the roof.

During the NASCAR weekend races at Talladega Superspeedway on April 29, 2006 – May 1, 2006, the DEI cars competed in identical special black paint schemes on Dale Earnhardt Day, which is held annually on his birthday—April 29. Martin Truex Jr., won the Aaron's 312 in the black car, painted to reflect Earnhardt's Intimidating Black No. 3 NASCAR Busch Grand National series car. In the Nextel Cup race on May 1, No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 1 Martin Truex Jr. and No. 15 Paul Menard competed in cars with the same type of paint scheme.

On June 18, 2006, at Michigan for the 3M Performance 400, Earnhardt Jr. ran a special vintage Budweiser car to honor his father and his grandfather Ralph Earnhardt. He finished third after rain caused the race to be cut short. The car was painted to resemble Ralph's 1956 dirt cars, and carried 1956-era Budweiser logos to complete the throwback look.

In the summer of 2007, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) with the Dale Earnhardt Foundation, announced it will fund an annual undergraduate scholarship at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina for students interested in motorsports and automotive engineering. Scholarship winners are also eligible to work at DEI in internships. [32] The first winner was William Bostic, a senior at Clemson majoring in mechanical engineering. [33]

In 2008, on the 50th anniversary of the first Daytona 500 race, DEI and RCR teamed up to make a special COT sporting Earnhardt's 1998 Daytona 500 paint scheme to honor the tenth anniversary of his Daytona 500 victory. In a tribute to all previous Daytona 500 winners, the winning drivers appeared in a lineup on stage, in chronological order. The throwback No. 3 car stood in the infield, in the approximate position Earnhardt would have taken in the processional. The throwback car featured the authentic 1998-era design on a current-era car, a concept similar to modern throwback jerseys in other sports. The car was later sold in 1:64 and 1:24 scale models.

The Intimidator 305 roller coaster has been open since April 2, 2010, at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia. [34] Named after Earnhardt, the ride's trains are modeled after his black-and-red Chevrolet. [35] Another Intimidator was built at Carowinds, in Charlotte, North Carolina, which opened on March 27, 2010. [36] The entrance to both roller coasters feature signage that shows Earnhardt's legacy along with one of his cars.

Atlanta Braves assistant coach Ned Yost was a friend of Earnhardt, and Richard Childress. When Yost was named Milwaukee Brewers manager, he changed jersey numbers, from No. 5 to No. 3 in Earnhardt's honor. (No. 3 is retired by the Braves in honor of outfielder Dale Murphy, so Yost could not make the change while in Atlanta.) When Yost was named Kansas City Royals assistant coach, he wore No. 2 for the 2010 season, even when he was named manager in May 2010, but for the 2011 season, he switched back to No. 3.

During the third lap of the 2011 Daytona 500 (a decade since Earnhardt's death), the commentators on FOX fell silent while fans raised three fingers in a similar fashion to the tributes throughout 2001. [37]

The north entrance to New Avondale City Center in Arizona will bear the name Dale Earnhardt Drive. Avondale is where Earnhardt won a Cup race in 1990. [38]

His helmet from the 1998 season is at the National Museum of American History in the Smithsonian museum in Washington D.C. [39]

Weedeater, a sludge metal band from North Carolina, paid tribute to Earnhardt on their 2003 album Sixteen Tons, with the song "No. 3". [40] The song is played with audio clips from television broadcasts about Earnhardt mixed in the background. [41] He is also mentioned in a 2001 song composed by John Hiatt entitled The Tiki Bar Is Open, along with his legendary race number.

On February 28, 2016, after winning the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, during his victory lap, driver Jimmie Johnson held his hand out of his window, with three fingers extended in tribute to Earnhardt. [42] [43] This was following Johnson's 76th Cup Series win, which tied the career mark of Earnhardt's. This is also the track where Earnhardt claimed his sixth Winston Cup Series title. [44]

  • He was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by North Carolina GovernorJim Hunt in 1994. [45] : 634
  • He was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. [46]
  • Earnhardt was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
  • Earnhardt was posthumously named "NASCAR's Most Popular Driver" in 2001. This was the only time he received the award.
  • He was posthumously inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America[47] in 2002, a year after his death.
  • He was posthumously inducted in the Oceanside Rotary Club Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame at Daytona Beach in 2004. [48]
  • He was posthumously inducted in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2006.
  • Earnhardt was named first on ESPN's list of "NASCAR's 20 Greatest Drivers" in 2007 in front of Richard Petty.
  • He was posthumously inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2006.
  • He was posthumously inducted in the Inaugural Class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame on May 23, 2010.
  • In 2020 it was announced that Earnhardt was voted into the Indianapolis Motorspeedway Hall of Fame. [49]

NASCAR Edit

(key) ( Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led. )

Winston Cup Series Edit

NASCAR Winston Cup Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 NWCC Pts
1975 Negre Racing 8 Dodge RSD DAY RCH CAR BRI ATL NWS DAR MAR TAL NSV DOV CLT
22
RSD MCH DAY NSV POC TAL MCH DAR DOV NWS MAR CLT RCH CAR BRI ATL ONT NA 0
1976 Ballard Racing 30 Chevy RSD DAY CAR RCH BRI ATL NWS DAR MAR TAL NSV DOV CLT
31
RSD MCH DAY NSV POC TAL MCH BRI DAR RCH DOV MAR NWS CLT CAR 103rd 70
Johnny Ray 77 Chevy ATL
19
ONT
1977 Gray Racing 19 Chevy RSD DAY RCH CAR ATL NWS DAR BRI MAR TAL NSV DOV CLT RSD MCH DAY NSV POC TAL MCH BRI DAR RCH DOV MAR NWS CLT
38
CAR ATL ONT 118th 49
1978 Cronkrite Racing 96 Ford RSD DAY RCH CAR ATL BRI DAR NWS MAR TAL DOV CLT
17
NSV RSD MCH DAY
7
NSV POC TAL
12
MCH BRI DAR
16
RCH DOV MAR NWS CLT CAR 43rd 558
Osterlund Racing 98 Chevy ATL
4
ONT
1979 2 RSD
21
CAR
12
RCH
13
NWS
4
BRI
1*
DAR
23
MAR
8
NSV
4
DOV
5
CLT
3
TWS
12
RSD
13
MCH
6
NSV
3
POC
29
TAL MCH BRI DAR RCH
4
DOV
9
MAR
29
CLT
10
NWS
4
CAR
5
ATL
2
ONT
9
7th 3749
Buick DAY
8
ATL
12
TAL
36
Olds DAY
3
1980 Chevy RSD
2
RCH
5
CAR
3
ATL
1
BRI
1*
DAR
29
NWS
6
MAR
13
NSV
6
DOV
10
CLT
20
TWS
9
RSD
5
MCH
12
DAY
3
NSV
1
POC
4
MCH
35
BRI
2
DAR
7
RCH
4
DOV
34
NWS
5
MAR
1*
CLT
1*
CAR
18
ATL
3
ONT
5
1st 4661
Olds DAY
4
TAL
2
TAL
3
1981 Pontiac RSD
3
DAY
5
RCH
7
CAR
26
ATL
3
BRI
28
NWS
10
DAR
17
MAR
25
TAL
8
NSV
20
DOV
3
CLT
18
TWS
2*
RSD
2
MCH
5
7th 3975
Jim Stacy Racing DAY
35
NSV
7
POC
11
TAL
29
Richard Childress Racing 3 Pontiac MCH
9
BRI
27
DAR
6
RCH
6
DOV
15
MAR
26
NWS
4
CLT
25
CAR
9
ATL
24
RSD
4
1982 Bud Moore Engineering 15 Ford DAY
36
RCH
4
BRI
2*
ATL
28*
CAR
25
DAR
1*
NWS
3
MAR
23
TAL
8
NSV
10
DOV
3
CLT
30*
POC
34
RSD
4
MCH
7
DAY
29
NSV
9
POC
25
TAL
35
MCH
30
BRI
6
DAR
3
RCH
27
DOV
20
NWS
20
CLT
25
MAR
27
CAR
14
ATL
34
RSD
42
12th 3402
1983 DAY
35
RCH
2
CAR
33
ATL
33
DAR
13
NWS
29
MAR
26
TAL
24
NSV
24
DOV
8
BRI
9
CLT
5
RSD
4
POC
8
MCH
15
DAY
9
NSV
1*
POC
30
TAL
1*
MCH
7
BRI
2
DAR
11
RCH
22
DOV
35
MAR
4
NWS
2
CLT
14
CAR
17
ATL
33
RSD
4
8th 3732
1984 Richard Childress Racing 3 Chevy DAY
2
RCH
6
CAR
14
ATL
2
BRI
7
NWS
8
DAR
5
MAR
9
TAL
27
NSV
19
DOV
5
CLT
2
RSD
5
POC
8
MCH
2
DAY
8
NSV
3
POC
10
TAL
1
MCH
7
BRI
10
DAR
38
RCH
3
DOV
5
MAR
12
CLT
39
NWS
7
CAR
13
ATL
1
RSD
11
4th 4265
1985 DAY
32
RCH
1
CAR
10
ATL
9
BRI
1*
DAR
24
NWS
8
MAR
25
TAL
21
DOV
25
CLT
4*
RSD
40
POC
39
MCH
5
DAY
9
POC
39
TAL
24
MCH
22
BRI
1*
DAR
19*
RCH
4
DOV
7
MAR
1
NWS
4
CLT
20
CAR
8
ATL
4
RSD
5
8th 3561
1986 DAY
14
RCH
3*
CAR
8
ATL
2*
BRI
10
DAR
1*
NWS
1*
MAR
21
TAL
2
DOV
3
CLT
1
RSD
5
POC
2
MCH
6
DAY
27*
POC
7
TAL
26*
GLN
3
MCH
5
BRI
4
DAR
9
RCH
2
DOV
21
MAR
12
NWS
9
CLT
1
CAR
6
ATL
1*
RSD
2
1st 4468
1987 DAY
5
CAR
1*
RCH
1*
ATL
16*
DAR
1*
NWS
1*
BRI
1
MAR
1*
TAL
4
CLT
20
DOV
4
POC
5
RSD
7
MCH
1*
DAY
6
POC
1*
TAL
3
GLN
8
MCH
2*
BRI
1*
DAR
1*
RCH
1*
DOV
31
MAR
2*
NWS
2
CLT
12
CAR
2
RSD
30
ATL
2
1st 4696
1988 DAY
10
RCH
10*
CAR
5
ATL
1*
DAR
11
BRI
14
NWS
3*
MAR
1*
TAL
9
CLT
13
DOV
16
RSD
4
POC
33
MCH
4
DAY
4*
POC
11
TAL
3
GLN
6
MCH
29
BRI
1*
DAR
3
RCH
2
DOV
2
MAR
8
CLT
17*
NWS
6
CAR
5
PHO
11
ATL
14
3rd 4256
1989 DAY
3
CAR
3
ATL
2
RCH
3
DAR
33
BRI
16
NWS
1*
MAR
2
TAL
8
CLT
38
DOV
1*
SON
4
POC
3
MCH
17
DAY
18
POC
9
TAL
11
GLN
3
MCH
17
BRI
14
DAR
1*
RCH
2
DOV
1*
MAR
9
CLT
42
NWS
10*
CAR
20
PHO
6
ATL
1*
2nd 4164
1990 DAY
5*
RCH
2
CAR
10
ATL
1*
DAR
1
BRI
19
NWS
3
MAR
5
TAL
1*
CLT
30
DOV
31
SON
34
POC
13
MCH
1
DAY
1*
POC
4
TAL
1*
GLN
7
MCH
8
BRI
8*
DAR
1*
RCH
1*
DOV
3
MAR
2
NWS
2*
CLT
25
CAR
10
PHO
1*
ATL
3
1st 4430
1991 DAY
5
RCH
1
CAR
8
ATL
3
DAR
29
BRI
20
NWS
2
MAR
1*
TAL
3*
CLT
3
DOV
2*
SON
7
POC
2
MCH
4
DAY
7
POC
22
TAL
1*
GLN
15
MCH
24
BRI
7
DAR
8
RCH
11
DOV
15
MAR
3
NWS
1
CLT
25
CAR
7
PHO
9
ATL
5
1st 4287
1992 DAY
9
CAR
24
RCH
11
ATL
3
DAR
10
BRI
18
NWS
6
MAR
9
TAL
3
CLT
1
DOV
2
SON
6
POC
28
MCH
9
DAY
40
POC
23
TAL
40
GLN
9
MCH
16
BRI
2
DAR
29
RCH
4
DOV
21
MAR
31
NWS
19
CLT
14
CAR
8
PHO
10
ATL
26
12th 3574
1993 DAY
2*
CAR
2
RCH
10
ATL
11
DAR
1*
BRI
2
NWS
16
MAR
22
TAL
4*
SON
6*
CLT
1*
DOV
1*
POC
11
MCH
14
DAY
1*
NHA
26
POC
1*
TAL
1*
GLN
18
MCH
9
BRI
3
DAR
4
RCH
3
DOV
27
MAR
29
NWS
2
CLT
3
CAR
2
PHO
4
ATL
10
1st 4526
1994 DAY
7
CAR
7
RCH
4
ATL
12
DAR
1*
BRI
1*
NWS
5
MAR
11
TAL
1
SON
3
CLT
9
DOV
28
POC
2
MCH
2
DAY
3
NHA
2
POC
7
TAL
34
IND
5
GLN
3
MCH
37
BRI
3
DAR
2
RCH
3
DOV
2
MAR
2
NWS
7
CLT
3
CAR
1*
PHO
40
ATL
2
1st 4694
1995 DAY
2
CAR
3
RCH
2
ATL
4
DAR
2
BRI
25
NWS
1*
MAR
29
TAL
21
SON
1
CLT
6
DOV
5
POC
8
MCH
35
DAY
3
NHA
22
POC
20
TAL
3
IND
1
GLN
23
MCH
35
BRI
2
DAR
2*
RCH
3
DOV
5
MAR
1*
NWS
9
CLT
2
CAR
7
PHO
3
ATL
1*
2nd 4580
1996 DAY
2
CAR
1
RCH
31
ATL
1*
DAR
14
BRI
4
NWS
3
MAR
5
TAL
3
SON
4
CLT
2
DOV
3
POC
32
MCH
9
DAY
4
NHA
12
POC
14
TAL
28*
IND
15
GLN
6*
MCH
17
BRI
24
DAR
12
RCH
20
DOV
16
MAR
15
NWS
2
CLT
6
CAR
9
PHO
12
ATL
4
4th 4327
1997 DAY
31
CAR
11
RCH
25
ATL
8
DAR
15
TEX
6
BRI
6
MAR
12
SON
12
TAL
2*
CLT
7
DOV
16
POC
10
MCH
7
CAL
16
DAY
4
NHA
2
POC
12
IND
29
GLN
16
MCH
9
BRI
14
DAR
30
RCH
15
NHA
8
DOV
2
MAR
2
CLT
3
TAL
29
CAR
8
PHO
5
ATL
16
5th 4216
1998 DAY
1*
CAR
17
LVS
8
ATL
13
DAR
12
BRI
22
TEX
35
MAR
4
TAL
36
CAL
9
CLT
39
DOV
25
RCH
21
MCH
15
POC
8
SON
11
NHA
18
POC
7
IND
5
GLN
11
MCH
18
BRI
6
NHA
9
DAR
4
RCH
38
DOV
23
MAR
22
CLT
29
TAL
32
DAY
10
PHO
3
CAR
9
ATL
13
8th 3928
1999 DAY
2
CAR
41
LVS
7
ATL
40
DAR
25
TEX
8
BRI
10
MAR
19
TAL
1*
CAL
12
RCH
8
CLT
6
DOV
11
MCH
16
POC
7
SON
9
DAY
2
NHA
8
POC
9
IND
10
GLN
20
MCH
5
BRI
1
DAR
22
RCH
6
NHA
13
DOV
8
MAR
2
CLT
12
TAL
1
CAR
40
PHO
11
HOM
8
ATL
9
7th 4492
2000 DAY
21
CAR
2
LVS
8
ATL
1
DAR
3
BRI
39
TEX
7
MAR
9
TAL
3
CAL
17
RCH
10
CLT
3
DOV
6
MCH
2
POC
4
SON
6
DAY
8
NHA
6
POC
25
IND
8
GLN
25
MCH
6
BRI
4
DAR
3
RCH
2
NHA
12
DOV
17
MAR
2
CLT
11
TAL
1
CAR
17
PHO
9
HOM
20
ATL
2
2nd 4865
2001 DAY
12
CAR LVS ATL DAR BRI TEX MAR TAL CAL RCH CLT DOV MCH POC SON DAY CHI NHA POC IND GLN MCH BRI DAR RCH DOV KAN CLT MAR TAL PHO CAR HOM ATL NHA 57th 132
Daytona 500 Edit
Year Team Manufacturer Start Finish
1979 Osterlund Racing Buick 10 8
1980 Oldsmobile 32 4
1981 Pontiac 7 5
1982 Bud Moore Engineering Ford 10 36
1983 3 35
1984 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 29 2
1985 18 32
1986 4 14
1987 13 5
1988 6 10
1989 8 3
1990 2 5
1991 4 5
1992 3 9
1993 4 2
1994 2 7
1995 2 2
1996 1 2
1997 4 31
1998 4 1
1999 4 2
2000 21 21
2001 7 12

Busch Series Edit

NASCAR Busch Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 NBGNC Pts
1982 Robert Gee 15 Pontiac DAY
1*
RCH DAR
21
HCY SBO DOV
18
HCY CLT
2
ASH HCY SBO CAR
2
CRW SBO HCY LGY IRP RCH
23
MAR CLT
DNQ
HCY MAR 21st 1188
45 Pontiac BRI
17
MAR
Robert Gee 15 Olds CRW
1
RCH LGY
Whitaker Racing Pontiac BRI
30
HCY
1983 Robert Gee DAY
21
RCH CAR
1*
HCY MAR NWS SBO GPS LGY DOV
4
BRI CLT
1*
SBO HCY ROU SBO ROU CRW ROU SBO HCY LGY IRP GPS BRI HCY DAR RCH NWS SBO MAR ROU CLT
2
HCY MAR 31st 790
1984 Whitaker Racing 7 Olds DAY
37
RCH
3
CAR HCY MAR DAR
31
ROU NSV LGY MLW DOV 39th 553
Dale Earnhardt, Inc. 8 Pontiac CLT
4
SBO HCY ROU SBO ROU HCY IRP LGY SBO BRI DAR
19
RCH NWS CLT
38
HCY CAR MAR
1985 DAY
35
CAR
1*
HCY BRI MAR DAR
29
SBO LGY DOV CLT SBO HCY ROU IRP SBO LGY HCY MLW BRI DAR
22
RCH
21
NWS ROU CLT
4
HCY CAR MAR 47th 391
1986 DAY
1
CAR
1
HCY MAR DAR
2*
SBO LGY JFC DOV CLT
15
SBO HCY ROU DAR
1*
CLT
1*
CAR MAR 25th 1611
Chevy BRI
2
IRP
25
SBO RAL
3
OXF SBO HCY LGY ROU BRI
2
RCH
1*
DOV MAR ROU
1987 DAY
27*
HCY MAR DAR
1*
BRI
4*
LGY SBO CLT
5*
DOV IRP
31
ROU JFC OXF SBO HCY RAL LGY ROU BRI
32
JFC DAR
35
RCH
31
DOV MAR CLT
21
CAR
3*
MAR 33rd 1107
1988 DAY
37
HCY
8
CAR
27*
MAR DAR
4
BRI
1
LNG NZH
6
SBO
25
NSV CLT
5
DOV ROU LAN LVL MYB
27
OXF SBO HCY LNG IRP
29
ROU BRI
3
DAR
32
RCH DOV MAR CLT
33
CAR
2
MAR 25th 1633
1989 3 Pontiac DAY
4
25th 1637
Chevy CAR
2
MAR HCY
10
DAR
6
BRI
27
NZH
37
SBO LAN NSV CLT
20
SBO
28
HCY DUB IRP
5
ROU BRI
5
DAR
4*
RCH
5
DOV MAR CLT
27
CAR MAR
Baker-Schiff Racing 87 Pontiac DOV
3
ROU LVL VOL MYB
1990 Dale Earnhardt, Inc. 3 Chevy DAY
1*
RCH
2
CAR
1
MAR HCY
20
DAR
29
BRI
5
LAN SBO NZH HCY CLT
8
DOV ROU VOL MYB OXF NHA
7
SBO DUB IRP
3
ROU BRI
24*
DAR
38
RCH
4
DOV MAR CLT
4
NHA CAR
2
MAR 26th 1947
1991 DAY
1*
RCH
2
CAR
3
MAR VOL HCY DAR
3
BRI
3
LAN SBO NZH CLT
1*
DOV ROU HCY MYB GLN OXF NHA
35
SBO DUB IRP
33
ROU BRI
11
DAR
1*
RCH
7*
DOV CLT
39
NHA CAR
6*
MAR 27th 1799
1992 DAY
1*
CAR
4*
RCH ATL
31
MAR DAR
17
BRI CLT
28
DOV
16
ROU MYB GLN VOL NHA TAL
4
IRP ROU MCH
3
NHA
2
BRI DAR
4
RCH DOV CLT
41
MAR CAR
12
HCY 23rd 1665
Ken Schrader Racing 15 Chevy HCY
12
LAN DUB NZH
1993 Dale Earnhardt, Inc. 3 Chevy DAY
1*
CAR
3
RCH DAR BRI HCY ROU MAR NZH CLT
36
DOV
13
MYB GLN MLW TAL
1*
IRP MCH
41
NHA
42
BRI DAR
40
RCH DOV ROU CLT
3
MAR CAR HCY ATL
QL †
37th 989
1994 DAY
1
CAR
38
RCH
DNQ
ATL
10
MAR DAR
6
HCY BRI ROU NHA
31
NZH CLT
23
DOV
39
MYB GLN MLW SBO TAL
3
HCY IRP MCH
32
BRI DAR
41
RCH
3
DOV CLT
45
MAR CAR 34th 1188
† - Qualified but replaced by Neil Bonnett

NASCAR Winston West Series Edit

NASCAR Busch North Series Edit

International Race of Champions Edit

(key) ( Bold – Pole position. * – Most laps led. )

International Race of Champions results
Year Make Q1 Q2 Q3 1 2 3 4 Pos. Pts Ref
1979−80 Chevy MCH
7
MCH RSD RSD ATL NA 0 [54]
1984 MCH
7
CLE
10
TAL
3
MCH
11
9th 31 [55]
1987 DAY
2
MOH
11
MCH
12
GLN
9
10th 30 [56]
1988 DAY
2
RSD
12
MCH
2
GLN
7
5th 45 [57]
1989 DAY
3*
NZH
7
MCH
2
GLN
5
4th 57 [58]
1990 Dodge TAL
1
CLE
5
MCH
1*
1st 60 [59]
1991 DAY
12
TAL
9
MCH
9
GLN
4
9th 27 [60]
1992 DAY
1
TAL
2
MCH
5
MCH
5
2nd 63 [61]
1993 DAY DAR
2
TAL
3
MCH
5*
NA 0 [62]
1994 DAY
1
DAR
4
TAL
8
MCH
4
4th 56 [63]
1995 DAY
1
DAR
8
TAL
1*
MCH
11
1st 61 [64]
1996 Pontiac DAY
1
TAL
9
CLT
10
MCH 8th 39 [65]
1997 DAY
3
CLT
8
CAL
9
MCH
7
7th 35 [66]
1998 DAY
4
CAL
10
MCH
4
IND
8
7th 36 [67]
1999 DAY
1
TAL
1
MCH
1*
IND
8
1st 75 [68]
2000 DAY
1*
TAL
3
MCH
3
IND
2
1st 74 [69]
2001 DAY
7*
TAL MCH IND NA 0 [70]

ARCA Hooters SuperCar Series Edit

(key) ( Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led. )


Inside Fatal Crash That Killed NASCAR Legend Dale Earnhardt Sr

Sunday, February 18, 2001, started like many others before it. It was the day of the 43rd Daytona 500 race in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Even the race seemed familiar, Dale "The Intimidator" Earnhardt Sr was driving his famous black No. 3 Chevrolet and looking to finish third in the race — behind Michael Waltrip, his teammate, and Dale Earnhardt Jr, his son.

Today we remember NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, who was born on this date 66 years ago. pic.twitter.com/3o6BtDdd67

&mdash NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 29, 2017

However, when Earnhardt Sr sought to protect the leads of the two drivers ahead of him, things took a disastrous turn. The fiery driver's car was clipped from behind, collided with another car, flew into a wall, killing the racer on impact and stunning the racing world.

To his credit, Earnhardt Jr did finish second, and Waltrip won the race. Sadly, any celebrations were short-lived, as drivers mourned the loss of one of their own — one of their greatest. Waltrip confessed after the race, just before the dreaded news was confirmed:

"My heart is hurting right now. I would rather be any place right this moment than here. It's so painful."

Dale Earnhardt celebrates his seventh Gatorade125 Qualifying race as he chases the remarkable 500th win, at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida | Photo: Getty Images

Earnhardt Sr was doing what he usually did, bumping other cars for position to the joy of the crowd — it was the kind of aggressive driving that endeared him to them in the first place, earning him his famous nickname, "The Intimidator."

Sterling Marlin had just passed Earnhardt Sr, and the racer responded by trying to get back by him on the low side of the track when a slight contact sent his Chevrolet spinning up in the banking.

Dale Jr later admitted to having a difficult relationship with his father, saying he felt like a disappointment

Dale Earnhardt checks out the view from the newly completed Earnhardt Grandstand at Daytona International Speedway | Photo: Getty Images

The car turned right, hit a wall, and was smashed by the on-coming Ken Schrader, who could do nothing to stop the impact.

It was several minutes before Earnhardt Sr was cut out of his car and rushed to the nearby hospital with serious head injuries, leaving the crowd chanting in his honor.

Dale Earnhardt looking on during practice for the Food City 500 of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in Bristol, Tennessee | Photo: Getty Images

The hospital later declared that the driver had died instantly of his wounds. Steve Bohannon, a doctor at the Halifax Medical Center, admitted that there was no saving the seven-time Winston champion.A stunned Earnhardt Jr. rapidly left the post-race celebration for the infield care center to be with his father.

The younger Earnhardt later opened up about his relationship with his father in an interview in 2018. Earnhardt Jr recalls having a rocky relationship with his father, particularly as a teenager, as the late driver was unsure about how his son would turn out. Earnhardt Jr said in the interview:


Medical expert confirms Earnhardt died of head injuries

According to Dr. Barry Myers, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. died when his head whipped violently forward. Earnhardt died during an impact with the wall on February 18 at the Daytona 500.

Dr. Myers' conclusion was the result of his review of Earnhardt's autopsy images, subsequent to an agreement reached between the Orlando Sentinel and Teresa Earnhardt, the widow of Earnhardt.

Due to the three related deaths in NASCAR last year, the Sentinel had published an investigative series of articles on NASCAR safety prior to the Daytona 500. The agreement with Teresa Earnhardt allowed the Sentinel to have Myers evaluate the photos to determine whether Earnhardt's skull fracture was due to head whip, a blow on top of the head, or his chin striking the steering wheel. (Earlier story)

In the report, Myers, a professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University, stated "Earnhardt didn't die from striking his head on a steering wheel because of a malfunctioning seat belt, as NASCAR officials have suggested."

What killed Earnhardt, Myers stated in his report, was the weight of his unrestrained head whipping forward beyond the ability of his neck muscles to keep it from snapping away the base of the skull, just seconds after the impact with the wall at the Daytona 500.

In the early reports released at the time of his death, Dr. Steve Bohannon, Daytona Speedway physician and the emergency room trauma surgeon, said, "My speculation would be head injuries, basically to the base of the skull." (Earlier story)

In an later report, Dr. Bohannon stated that "Mr. Earnhardt more than likely contacted the steering wheel with his face." Bohannon further speculated that with the broken belt, Earnhardt's body could have been thrown forward and to the right, thrusting him into the steering wheel.

Earnhardt's chin might have hit the steering wheel, causing the major head injury that killed him on impact. A skull fracture ran from the front to the back of his brain. "If his restraint system - his belts - had held, he would have had a much better chance of survival," he said. (Earlier story)

In his autopsy study report, Myers stated,"As such, the restraint failure does not appear to have played a role in Mr. Earnhardt's fatal injury."

Other racing and medical experts had determine that Earnhardt likely died because his head and neck were not held securely in place. In his findings, Myers sided with the other experts and he concluded that due to the injuries sustained, indications are that the seat belt functioned properly through much of the crash, holding back Earnhardt's body.

The autopsy report did find that the underside of Earnhardt's chin struck and bent the steering wheel. That in itself, was a blow that could have been enough to cause a fatal skull injury. However according to Myers, the head whipping by itself would have killed Earnhardt.

Myers concluded his report by agreeing with other experts that better head-and-neck protection devices would have the potential to prevent head injuries but may not have been enough to save Earnhardt. Skull fractures have claimed the lives of as many as five NASCAR drivers in the past 11 months.


Watch E60's 'Intimidator'

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When we look back on tragic days in our lives, we always find what feel like missed signs of what was to come. Sometimes, it's through a formal investigation of a historic event, like a terrorist attack or space shuttle explosion. Calls of warning that were shrugged off by authorities or documents that revealed a corporation knew it was flirting with disaster but went on doing it anyway.

More often, the signs are much smaller, much more personal. A note, a comment, a last conversation with a lost loved one that wasn't really an indicator of cosmic tumblers about to fall into place, but man, in retrospect, they sure feel like it.

When we look back on Feb. 18, 2001, the day Earnhardt died at the end of that race, we find so much of both -- personal recollections about conversations that feel so foreboding now, and moments when so many racers chose to stick with the norm, even amid the constant sounds of safety experts' warnings, ambulance sirens and funeral parlor organs.

Earnhardt's death launched a NASCAR safety evolution that continues 20 years later. But the people who lived that day in the arena with the man in his final hours still find themselves wrestling with the reality that Dale Earnhardt is gone.

Teresa Earnhardt uncharacteristically lingered before the race, and shared a good luck kiss with her husband. AP Photo/Bruce Ackerma

THE 2001 DAYTONA 500 was without question the most hyped and anticipated event in NASCAR's then-53-year history. It was the first race of a new six-year billion-dollar broadcast deal and Fox Sports had wallpapered the nation in promotion, from ads during NFL playoff games to getting Terry Bradshaw named grand marshal of the event, complete with a Daytona 500 Eve ridealong with Earnhardt, who jerked the wheel like he was headed into the wall just to scare the four-time Super Bowl champ. A revamped superspeedway rules package, the same one Earnhardt used to earn his already legendary 18th-to-first dash at Talladega, promised to provide an entertaining event. And Earnhardt's 2000 resurgence as a title contender had the old-school fandom worked into a frenzy.

"People didn't realize how hurt Dale had been back in 1996 and then again in '99," recalls Richard Childress, car owner for six of Earnhardt's seven Winston Cup championships and his closest friend in the garage. A broken collarbone at Talladega and Earnhardt's rushed return had taken away his feel for the car. A broken bone in his neck at Atlanta had him essentially driving with one arm in 1999.

"He got real discouraged and he talked about quitting, but I begged him to come back," Childress says. "I told him it wasn't him. Our cars weren't fast enough and I'd fix that. I talked him into it. He got fixed up and our cars got fixed up and in 2000 we almost won the championship."

Earnhardt was seemingly everywhere throughout 2001 Speedweeks. He finished second in his division in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, second to youngster Tony Stewart in the Bud Shootout All-Star event, and third in his 125-mile qualifier. On Friday, he produced a genuine Intimidator moment when he was spun out by Indy 500 champ Eddie Cheever in an IROC event, sliding his Pontiac through the grass, whipping it back up onto the banking, finishing seventh, then stalking a terrified Cheever on pit road after the race.

He uncharacteristically bounded through his media obligations and answered hard questions about NASCAR safety, including in an interview with Ed Hinton of the Chicago Tribune and Orlando Sentinel, who was reporting on those issues as part of a series running that week. It suggested that, had Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin Jr. and Tony Roper worn head and neck restraints, they would likely still be alive. That's when Earnhardt, asked if he would wear a HANS device, had groused, "I ain't wearing that damn noose."

He was so adamant in his distaste of the carbon fiber brace that when General Motors, Ford and NASCAR brought esteemed automotive safety expert Dr. John Melvin to a January 2001 Daytona 500 test session to make a presentation to drivers on its benefits, Earnhardt was the only no-show. In the days leading up to the race, his car's garage stall was in between those of Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott, both of whom were fitted for devices by HANS co-inventor Robert Hubbard.

"I was within a few feet of Earnhardt and he just didn't want to hear about the HANS," Hubbard recalled in his book "Crash! From Senna to Earnhardt," published just prior to Hubbard's death in February 2019. "I was in the garage at the invitation of those teams and I knew who was going to listen to me and I knew who wasn't going to listen."

The evening before the 2001 Daytona 500, Earnhardt held a business meeting with old friend and rival Terry Labonte. As they signed what was sure to be a lucrative souvenir contract, Earnhardt suddenly said, "That's if I make it that far." When everyone else in the room broke out into laughter, he never joined them.

"It was strange enough when he said it at the time," Labonte said when he recalled the comment in 2019. "But it sure came back to my mind just about exactly 24 hours later."

On race day, there were so many of those stories, especially during the prerace ceremonies. Teresa Earnhardt, always quick to leave the grid and get back to the motorcoach in time to watch the start of races, instead uncharacteristically lingered. Her good luck kiss to her husband, captured on live TV, looked longer and more impassioned than normal.

Even the walk to get to that point had been different. Normally, his march to his waiting ride was a gotta-get-there mission. But this time he stopped to shake hands, laugh it up and hug it out.

"He came up and was like, 'Hey, you can do this. We've got good cars, man. We're gonna do this together,'" recalls Dale Earnhardt Jr. "He didn't do that before races. I never saw him. I'd be at my car getting in and he wouldn't come up to me, you know? Like, dang, I was just another racer. But this time, he made a point to come see me."

He also threw his arms around Kyle Petty, the man whom he worked so hard to avoid throughout the 2000 season after Petty's 19-year-old son, Adam, was killed in a Busch Series practice crash at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on May 12, mortally wounded with a basilar skull fracture. The car was Adam's No. 45 and Kyle Petty's HANS device was sitting in the cockpit waiting for him, one of only five drivers in the 43-car field to wear one that day.

"There's a great photo of that moment," Petty says. "He hugged me and said, 'I'm thinking about you and I love you. I just want you to know that, and I know this is hard.' And that was it. He got in his car and I got in my car and we ran a race."

The right front corner 1 o'clock angle impacts are so feared because the unrestrained head always moves in the direction of initial impact. The deep, empty spaces of the right front side of the cockpit leave nothing to slow it down. AP Photo/Greg Suvino

THE RACE ITSELF was a good one, with 49 lead changes swapped among 14 different race leaders. Earnhardt led four times for a total of 17 laps up front. He diced it up all day with old Daytona 500 rival Sterling Marlin, and two cars he owned, driven by Michael Waltrip and Earnhardt Jr.

"A great day was unfolding," then-NASCAR president Mike Helton remembers thinking from race control, the press box booth where NASCAR executives and officials monitor and officiate the race below. Behind Helton sat NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. in the "crow's nest." France Jr. was happy. Fox was happy. So were the 150,000 people in attendance, as indicated by their roars whenever The Intimidator took the lead.

"I thought for us to be able to deliver it to Fox on their premiere Daytona 500," Helton says, "was everything we wanted it to be for the audience that was watching it on television."

The only big-ticket item missing from the show was the "Big One." It happened with 25 laps to go, a multicar crash on the backstretch that involved 20 cars, nearly half the field. Tony Stewart's orange No. 20 machine took a hard right-hand turn and drilled the concrete wall with a perfectly centered shot from the nose of his Pontiac. As the car turned around backward, a pair of roof flaps snapped into place, designed to keep the 3,400-pound machine from going airborne. But two hits from onrushing cars punted Stewart's car into the air. It did a pirouette, landing on the hood of another car and barrel-rolling twice before landing atop teammate Bobby Labonte's car and eventually sliding to rest, destroyed, in the backstretch grass.

It looked -- and was -- awful. But Stewart climbed out of what was left of his car, shaken but OK. But how, especially without any head and neck restraints?

When NASCAR and Joe Gibbs Racing looked over the car in the garage, they discovered that the steering wheel was bent, dented from the impact of Stewart's full-face helmet. The head-on collision meant his head had traveled straight forward, stopped before it could extend into a deadly head whip. His steering wheel had likely saved his life.

"So, there's a stupid saying that you'll hear around the sport. 'The ones that look really bad are never really bad, and the ones that don't look bad can be bad,'" Petty explains. "Tony's crash looked really bad, right? Stuff flying everywhere. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. That's energy that's leaving. It's going away from me with that junk. It's not going back into my body as a race car driver. And that's the other stupid saying you'll hear. 'It's not how fast you go, it's how fast you stop.' And Tony never really stopped, did he?"

With the field parked under a red flag so crews could clean up the mess, Earnhardt chatted with Childress on the radio. "He was relieved when we told him that Tony was OK," Childress recalls. "Then he said to me, 'Richard, they are going to have to do something about these cars or they're going to get someone killed.' At the time I was like, 'OK, man, I hear you.' But we were all focused on getting the race restarted."

The restart came on Lap 180, with 20 to go. On Lap 183, Earnhardt was in the lead. One circuit later, he allowed Michael Waltrip to slide by, taking Earnhardt Jr. with him. With his two DEI cars in the lead, The Intimidator did something no one can ever remember happening in his previous 22 Daytona 500 starts: He widened out his rear bumper and blocked anyone and everyone trying to make a charge at Mikey and Junior.

"We all knew that the biggest threat to keep one of us from winning the race was Sterling [Marlin]," Waltrip says of those frantic final 17 laps, running first with a mirror full of teammate Earnhardt Jr. and the black Chevy of Senior zigzagging back and forth to keep two different lines of cars at bay, the inside line led by Marlin and Rusty Wallace and the group in the outside lane led by Schrader.

As that scramble rolled through the final two turns of the event, Waltrip and Earnhardt Jr. were breaking away, hammering off Turn 4 toward the checkered flag. Marlin had attempted one last push to catch them, moving below Senior down the backstretch. That opened the door for a wall of cars, three-wide behind Earnhardt as they entered the last turn.

When Earnhardt dropped low in front of Marlin, he hadn't completely cleared the nose of the No. 40 Dodge and was turned to the left and onto the flat apron at the bottom of the track. That forced Earnhardt's car to ricochet back up into the steep 31-degree banking, cutting across the front of the pack of the cars behind him.

For a fraction of a second, the nose of Earnhardt's Chevy corrected itself, pointed briefly in the right direction to resume racing. There was even a puff of brake smoke. It looked as though his save from Friday's IROC race might happen again. But then Schrader's car hit Earnhardt in the passenger side door, creating a sudden surge of speed and turning both cars into the wall. Schrader was sandwiched between the concrete barrier and the nose of Earnhardt's ride.

According to the official accident report, Earnhardt's Monte Carlo was traveling 160 mph when it blasted into the bare concrete wall at the 1 o'clock angle and immediately decelerated by 42-44 mph. The impact registered around 60 G's, so much force that it pushed the entire right front corner of the car from an aerodynamic curve into a flat surface that fit the wall as perfectly as a jigsaw puzzle piece. The engine stayed put, but everything around it moved, in some cases a full two or three feet to the right.

His 184-pound body was thrown far enough out into the right center of the cockpit that he suffered a blow to the back of his head. Earnhardt suffered a broken ankle, broken ribs, a fractured sternum and cuts to his scalp and chin. But the fatal injury was a basilar skull fracture, with breaks in every bone where the skull meets the spine. The impact also broke a left side lap belt that was already frayed, but multiple doctors interviewed said that, due to the nature of a basilar skull fracture, Earnhardt's mortal wound had already been inflicted by the time the force of the crash broke the belt.

All of these events happened in the span of 80 milliseconds.

"How in the world do I say that we've lost Dale Earnhardt?" then-NASCAR president Mike Helton asked his colleagues before the news conference. AP Photo/Bob Jordan

ON THE FOX broadcast, Darrell Waltrip shouted encouragement to his brother as Michael snapped a career 462-race winless streak to become Daytona 500 champion. But he was immediately distracted by Earnhardt's crash, watching the No. 3 car as it slid down the banking and into the infield grass, clearly under no control. To the 17 million people watching at home, the crash looked like nothing, especially compared to Stewart's spectacular accident a half-hour earlier.

But the racers knew better.

"You could tell in the communication from those arriving on scene," Helton says of his view from race control. "And watching Ken Schrader, quite frankly, move around the way he was moving around. You got the sense that something wasn't right."

Schrader became the day's unwitting messenger of tragedy. His car slid alongside Earnhardt's and they stopped nose-to-door in the infield grass. When he limped around to talk to his friend, he instead dropped the window net to an unimaginable scene.

Months later, when the photos of the car were released as part of NASCAR's presentation of its crash investigation, hardly any image didn't include blood stains. To this day, all Schrader will say of what he saw is, "I just knew that it wasn't good. Dale was in serious trouble." His sudden frantic waving to the arriving trucks of the Daytona International Speedway safety crew was the first real indication to the world that something was indeed very wrong.

Dr. Steve Bohannon had been a Daytona Beach resident since 1986, working at Halifax Health Medical Center, located less than a mile and a half from the speedway's start-finish line. In 2000, he was hired by the racetrack as its chief emergency doctor. He arrived at Earnhardt's car less than 10 minutes after the crash, after crews had already cut the roof off the car and a surgeon stationed closer to the scene had already been administering resuscitation efforts.

"Any time the driver's unconscious, we know it's going to be a difficult situation," Bohannon said in January during a visit to Daytona, his first time back to the track in years. "When I arrived and took a look, he had obvious signs of what we call a basilar skull fracture -- things we don't like to see in a driver, blood coming out of the nose and airway, blood coming out of the ears. Unconscious, unresponsive, not trying to breathe.

"Truthfully, when I took a look at him in his car, when you have no signs of life after a major blunt trauma, major car accident, the chances of being resuscitated and survival from that are close to zero, but we try heroic measures."

While Michael Waltrip pulled into Victory Lane, Earnhardt Jr. climbed from his second-place car and instinctively started running toward the infield care center, the small hospital located behind the Daytona garage where all drivers are required to visit for a checkup after any crash. He made eye contact with Schrader, who was behind a curtain being examined. As soon as Earnhardt Jr. saw Schrader's eyes, he knew he would need to go offsite to Halifax Medical to see his father.

In the Halifax Medical trauma room, Bohannon and his coworkers tried to inflate Earnhardt's collapsed lungs, performed a chest X-ray and continued pumping his body with blood. There were 12 to 15 medical personnel in the room, each doing their task amid the controlled chaos. That's when Bohannon realized someone else was in the room with them. It was Teresa Earnhardt.

"She stood on the back wall of the room, and she was very composed. She didn't interrupt, she didn't, um, disrupt anything," he says. "She was the only one that was in the room other than medical personnel."

She had arrived with her stepson, Earnhardt Jr. The trauma room was just inside the door. He took one look and instantly recognized by the body language of the doctors that the battle was over.

"We went in there and knew it right away," he remembers now. "When I realized that was the way that this was going to go, that Dad was gone, I turned and saw [Earnhardt's PR representative] J.R. Rhodes and ran to him. There was this noise coming out of me that I can't re-create. I couldn't do it for you right now. It's just like a bellow of shock and sorrow and fear."

In the waiting room, Childress was with other family and crew members. He was beating himself up for talking his friend out of quitting and couldn't shake that "they're going to get someone killed" comment during the red flag. Darrell Waltrip was there too, with a growing number of NASCAR officials. When the news was brought to them from the emergency room, everyone there in that moment who talks about it now says what they remember most is silence.

"To this day, I don't know why I went to the hospital," Waltrip says. "I think it was just to be with my family, my racing family. We compete and sometimes we fight and we want to beat each other on the racetrack, but this is a small group of people who do what we do. We travel together, we live together, we're a tribe.

"So, now, here we all were, balancing grief, the loss of our friend. But I think we were all also thinking, 'Where do we all go from here? The leader is gone. How did we let this happen?'"

Michael Waltrip won the 2001 Daytona 500, but immediately left Victory Lane after hearing an update on Earnhardt. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

ONE BY ONE, cars started leaving the hospital to return to Daytona International Speedway. Michael Waltrip was not there. Schrader had walked to Victory Lane and delivered the terrible news of what he believed had happened in the middle of Waltrip's celebration, causing Waltrip to leave immediately.

Bohannon was still in the trauma room, watching a technician prepare Earnhardt's body for the mortuary. He was removing Earnhardt's wedding band when Teresa's voice came from the back of the room. All she said was, "No."

"The technician looked at me like, 'What do I do?' And I said, 'Do what she says,'" Bohannon says. "I walked out after that. That's always stayed with me."

Bohannon rode back to the track with Helton. It had been nearly two hours and they were about to step into the media center to address the world. The doctor had never been to a news conference, let alone be asked to field questions in one. Before stepping out of the NASCAR trailer, Helton asked his colleagues, "How in the world do I say that we've lost Dale Earnhardt?"

NASCAR vice president Paul Brooks replied: "Just like that."

Helton walked into the room packed with cameras, held his microphone and worked up the courage not to cry over the loss of his friend. "This is undoubtedly one of the toughest announcements that I've ever personally had to make," he began, "but after the accident in Turn 4 at the end of the Daytona 500 . we've lost Dale Earnhardt."

In the garage, just a few paces from where Helton was speaking, Earnhardt Jr. had returned to the garage to see his team. Crew chief Tony Eury Sr. was also his uncle, handpicked by Earnhardt Sr. to lead his son's career. He told Eury what had happened, assuming he already knew, but it was the first he was hearing of it, and the stoic old mechanic broke down.

"I went back in my bus in the room and shut the door to my bedroom and just sat there," Earnhardt Jr. says. "I thought to myself in that very moment, 'I'm gonna have to do this by myself.' The rest of my life. Having Dad was like a cheat sheet, like knowing all the answers to everything. And I was like, 'Man, I'm going to have to do this without that for the rest of my life.'"

The 24-year-old thought about himself, his own racing career and his life as a fatherless son. But he had might as well have been conjuring the feelings of the entirety of NASCAR.

"I was like, 'Man, I don't know what's next.' I thought I had this path and this direction, with him, to do what we were going to do. Whatever that was. Racing and winning, Budweiser and No. 8 cars, DEI, championships," he says. "And now I'm thinking, 'I wonder what's gonna happen with all this stuff?' It was weird. It was a weird emotion. Where were we supposed to go now?"

On the night of Feb. 18, 2001, phones started ringing at the homes of HANS device co-inventors Jim Downing in Atlanta and Robert Hubbard in Michigan. The calls were from stock car drivers and teams. They wanted to talk about head and neck restraints. NASCAR's safety revolution was finally taking shape.


EARNHARDT HEAD INJURY DETAILED IN REPORT

Seat-belt failure did not cause the head injuries that killed NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt during February's Daytona 500, a court-appointed medical expert who studied the racer's autopsy photos reported Monday.

Dr. Barry Myers, a Duke University expert in crash injuries, said the nation's most popular stock car driver died when his head whipped violently forward in the moments after his No. 3 Chevrolet struck a concrete wall at 150 mph.

Rejecting NASCAR's theory of the crash, Myers said that, even assuming what he termed "a worst case scenario," Earnhardt's head probably would have suffered the same damage even if his lap belt had not torn on impact.

"As such," Myers wrote, "the restraint failure does not appear to have played a role in Mr. Earnhardt's fatal injury."

Myers' five-page report was the culmination of an agreement reached last month between the Orlando Sentinel and Teresa Earnhardt, the racer's widow. He was asked to evaluate whether Earnhardt's basilar skull fracture resulted from his head whipping forward, a blow on the top of the head or -- as NASCAR had suggested, a broken seat belt that allowed the driver to strike his head on the steering wheel.

In his findings, Myers sided with other racing and medical experts who told the Orlando Sentinel that Earnhardt likely died because his head and neck were not held securely in place.

Although Earnhardt's chin struck the steering wheel hard enough to bend it, Myers said he thought the racer succumbed to the sudden, wrenching forces that can kill anyone whose head is not restrained in a high-speed frontal crash.

Dr. Philip Villanueva, a University of Miami neurosurgeon originally hired by the paper to study the Earnhardt case, said he had reached the same conclusion as Myers from the autopsy report. But he wanted to examine the autopsy photos to be certain.

"My conclusion was that the patient definitely died of a whip injury and that the breaking seat belt did not significantly contribute to the patient's death," Villanueva said.

Dr. Steve Olvey, medical director for Championship Auto Racing Teams for the past 22 years who has done extensive research into crashes, also agreed with Myers' findings.

"I think it's very similar to what's happened to other drivers in those type of cars," said Olvey, also a University of Miami doctor.

Myers stopped short of saying that better head-and-neck protection would have saved Earnhardt. But he said such a device had the potential to prevent these injuries, which have claimed the lives of as many as five NASCAR drivers in the past 11 months.

Myers' report, which proposed further study of head protection for NASCAR drivers, came only hours after the racing organization announced it had commissioned its own experts to reconstruct Earnhardt's accident.

"Everyone involved in this process is committed to a sense of urgency, but we must also move forward in a thorough, careful and complete manner," said a statement by NASCAR president Mike Helton. NASCAR had no comment on Myers' report, which was released later Monday afternoon.

Earnhardt, a seven-time Winston Cup champion, crashed on the final turn of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 and could not be revived. In a news conference five days later, NASCAR officials announced that a seat belt had broken in Earnhardt's car.

Daytona International Speedway Dr. Steve Bohannon, who worked on Earnhardt after the crash, said he thought the faulty belt allowed Earnhardt's head to strike the steering wheel of his Chevrolet. He speculated that the force of the blow cracked the base of Earnhardt's skull and caused massive head injuries.

The Orlando Sentinel went to court to gain access to Earnhardt's autopsy photos after his wife persuaded a Volusia County judge to seal them. The newspaper, which vowed not to print the photos, sought permission for a medical expert to evaluate the pictures to see if better safety equipment might have saved the racer's life and to evaluate NASCAR's seat-belt theory.

Although the court challenge outraged NASCAR fans and prompted state lawmakers to remove autopsy photos from the list of Florida's public records, it produced a settlement allowing Myers, an independent medical expert, to see the photos. His selection was agreed to by both sides.

Myers, an expert in head and neck injuries, reviewed the photos for about 30 minutes at the Volusia County Medical Examiner's Office on March 26. In his report, he wrote that Earnhardt's injuries reflected a very severe high-speed crash that resulted when he lost control of his speeding racecar and swerved first to his left and then to his right, sliding up the race track into the concrete wall.

The collision threw Earnhardt's body in the same direction as the impact, hurling his head and neck toward the concrete wall. His head whipped forward and downward in a circular arc while the seatbelt held his body in place against the seat.

"This is the basis of the whip mechanism which occurs in right side angled frontal collision," Myers wrote. "In crashes like Mr. Earnhardt's, these inertial forces alone can be large enough to produce ring fractures of the skull base."

When the skull cracks this way, it shears major blood vessels and damages the brain stem, which controls such basic body functions as breathing. Death can come instantly.

Examination of Earnhardt's fracture helped Myers rule out several theories on how the driverdied.

For example, he determined that Earnhardt had not cracked his skull striking the top of his helmet against the roll cage of his car.

He also dismissed the idea that Earnhardt died as his head whipped backwards against the seat or roll cage.

What killed Earnhardt, Myers concluded, was the weight of his unrestrained head whipping forward beyond the ability of his neck muscles to keep it from snapping away the base of the skull.

The analysis appeared to exonerate Simpson Performance Products, the maker of Earnhardt's seatbelt. NASCAR has said that the lap belt on Earnhardt's left side failed, though no one outside the racing organization has acknowledged seeing the belt after the wreck.

While NASCAR officials publicly speculated that the seatbelt contributed to or caused Earnhardt's death, Myers ruled that out as a significant factor.

Seat belt maker Bill Simpson called the report "the best news I've heard in seven weeks. I've been living in daily hell," he said, his voice choking with emotion.

Teresa Earnhardt's lawyer, Thom Rumberger, said the report helped provide more answers in the death. But he maintained that the report does not state that viewing the autopsy photos was crucial to Myers' investigation.

Rumberger also blasted the Orlando Sentinel and the Sun-Sentinel for filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the newly passed law restricting access to autopsy photos.

The newspapers filed suit against the law on March 30, one day after it was signed into law by Gov. Jeb Bush.


This Day in History: Dale Earnhardt Killed in 2001 Daytona 500 Crash

On this day in 2001, I watch Dale Earnhardt Sr., one of my childhood heroes got into a wreck during the 2001 Daytona 500 that ended his life.

Today, as we trek out to Daytona International Speedway, my family and I plan to celebrate his life and legacy by basting our Dodge Grand Caravan with #3 props… and a few honks for Trevor Bayne #21 too, or course.

Back to our flashback about Dale Sr.
Dale Sr. is considered one of the greatest drivers in National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) history, dies at the age of 49 in a last-lap crash at the 43rd Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Earnhardt was driving his famous black No. 3 Chevrolet and vying for third place when he collided with another car, then crashed into a wall. After being cut from his car, Earnhardt, whose tough, aggressive driving style earned him the nickname “The Intimidator,” was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead of head injuries.

Earnhardt had been involved in another crash at the Daytona 500 in 1997, when his car flipped upside down on the backstretch. He managed to escape serious injury and went on to win Daytona in 1998, his first and only victory in that race after 20 years of trying. The 200-lap, 500-mile Daytona 500, which was first run in 1959 at the newly opened Daytona International Speedway, is one of NASCAR’s premiere events as well as its season opener.

Earnhardt, whose father was a race car driver, was born on April 29, 1951, in Kannapolis, North Carolina, and dropped out of high school to pursue his own racing career. He went on to become one of NASCAR’s most successful and respected competitors, winning 76 Winston Cup (now known as the Sprint Cup) races in his career and taking home a record seven Cup championships, a feat achieved by just one other driver in his sport, Richard Petty. In addition to his legendary accomplishments as a driver, Earnhardt was also a successful businessman and NASCAR team owner. The 2001 Daytona race which cost Earnhardt his life was won by Michael Waltrip, who drove for Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI). Earnhardt’s son, Dale Jr., also a DEI driver (until 2008, when he began driving for the Hendrick Motorsports team), took second place in the race.

Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s death in 2001 made him the fourth NASCAR driver to die within a nine-month period and eventually prompted NASCAR officials to implement a series of more stringent safety regulations, including the use of head-and-neck restraints.


Death of Dale Earnhardt - Autopsy Pictures

On February 19, 2001, the Volusia County Medical Examiner performed Earnhardt's autopsy. The unusual act of notifying NASCAR and Teresa Earnhardt was made prior to releasing the records sought by members of the public and media. Three days later, Teresa Earnhardt filed a legal brief in the Circuit Court of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, in and for Volusia County, Florida (Case No. 2001-30373-CICI Div. 32). Once the complaint was filed, the coroner's office was barred from releasing the public records, including autopsy photographs, pertaining to Earnhardt, until a formal hearing on the merits of Teresa Earnhardt's case could be heard.

On February 28, March 13, and March 16, 2001, the Orlando Sentinel, Michael Uribe, founder of WebsiteCity.com, and Campus Communications, Inc., publisher of the University of Florida's student newspaper The Independent Florida Alligator, filed motions to intervene into the Earnhardt v. Volusia litigation in order to uphold their rights to inspect and copy public records held by the Volusia County Medical Examiner to include the photographs and videotape of Dale Earnhardt's autopsy examination.

On June 12–13, 2001, a trial was then conducted before Judge Joseph Will. Will eventually ruled against Uribe and CCI's original public records requests and constitutional arguments to inspect and copy the medical examiner files pertaining to Dale Earnhardt, to include autopsy photographs. Judge Will's ruling set forth in motion an extensive legal battle later fought in the appellate courts by both Uribe and CCI seeking to deem the denial of their public records request unconstitutional under Florida State and Federal laws. Then on December 1, 2003, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear Uribe and CCI's appeal. Thus, the Florida Legislature's March 29, 2001 law preventing release of Earnhardt's public record autopsy photographs would remain in effect.

The Florida Legislature's March 29, 2001 law, also known as the Earnhardt Family Protection Act, was sponsored by Senator Jim King (R-Jacksonville) and changed Florida's previously long standing and historically open public records laws from that day onward. The Earnhardt law deemed Florida's medical examination autopsy photographs, video and audio recordings exempt from public inspection without the expressed permission from applicable next of kin.

A year after Earnhardt's death, in April 2002, TLC singer Lisa Lopes was killed in a car accident in Honduras. A similar controversy to the release of Earnhardt's autopsy photos occurred, as within days of Lopes' crash, autopsy photos began to circulate on the Internet. All three of Earnhardt's drivers (Steve Park, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Michael Waltrip) responded in protest to the leak by painting a single black stripe next to their cars' left headlight decals for the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Read more about this topic: Death Of Dale Earnhardt

Famous quotes containing the word pictures :

&ldquo Those who are esteemed umpires of taste, are often persons who have acquired some knowledge of admired pictures or sculptures, and have an inclination for whatever is elegant but if you inquire whether they are beautiful souls, and whether their own acts are like fair pictures, you learn that they are selfish and sensual. Their cultivation is local, as if you should rub a log of dry wood in one spot to produce fire, all the rest remaining cold. &rdquo
&mdashRalph Waldo Emerson (1803�)


Watch the video: Dale Earnhardt Fatal Crash w. Dale Jr MRN Interview - Full Speed Replays Better Audio (July 2022).


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