Dale Earnhardt Essay, Research Paper
Dale Earnhardt, Sr. died as he lived. Always known as a competitor who brought the best out in everyone around him, he died trying to bring the best out in one of his drivers, Michael Waltrip. Dale knew that several cars had the ability to win the Daytona 500, and he was determined to make sure that those cars had to get by him in order to reach Waltrip, the eventual winner. His final lap crash occurred as he was running interference for Waltrip and his son, Dale Junior, who finished second.
Known as the Intimidator, Earnhardt wasn’t afraid to bump and bang his way to the front, but off the track, he was a shy man who appeared not to enjoy the glare of the spotlight. Dale Earnhardt was a throwback to the days when his father, Ralph was the NASCAR Sportsman champion. Driving with an open faced helmet, he didn’t like full-face helmets, you expected to see a red bandanna over his nose and mouth to keep the dirt of the southern short-tracks where he began out of his mouth. In fact, he often drove as if he were at one of those tracks. He never forgot those days and even on a superspeedway like Daytona, you could see glimpses of the North Carolina dirt tracks as you watched his black #3 fight its way through the field and into the lead.
Born April 29, 1951 in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Earnhardt entered racing in the late 1970’s. He was given his first chance by Rod Osterlund where he picked up his first championship, before moving on to Richard Childress Racing, picking up the remaining six championships. In his career, Earnhardt won a total of 76 Winston Cup races and a record tying 7 NASCAR Winston Cup Championships. While he only won the Daytona 500 once, he actually was the winningest driver in the history of the Daytona International Speedway, winning 34 times in other events.
Owner, with his wife Teresa, of Dale Earnhardt Enterprises, they own several cars, most famous amongst them being Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s car and the car which was the winner of this year’s Daytona 500, driven by Michael Waltrip. Undoubtedly Dale Earnhardt Enterprises will continue under the watchful eye of Earnhardt’s widow and possibly his son.
There is talk about retiring the #3 as a NASCAR stock car number. Perhaps Dale, Jr. will take the number. All of this remains up in the air as NASCAR and the family reel from the loss. There is also talk of a “Dale Earnhardt” award. All of this will be worked out as time goes on.
Medical reports from the autopsy state that the cause of death was blunt force injury to the head. Earnhardt never regained consciousness after the accident and showed no signs of life after the impact. The physician in charge has stated that he does not believe that the HANS device would have made any difference in the outcome due to the nature of the injuries. All efforts, of course were made, at Halifax Hospital in Daytona, but the efforts were futile and death was pronounced approximately 20 minutes after arrival at the hospital. His wife Teresa was with him at the official time of death and Dale Jr. was at the hospital as well.
Currently fans are visiting his home in Mooresville, North Caroline, where a small shrine of flowers, cards and other items are building outside the home. The grief on the faces of the fans is evident as they make comments about “racing will never be the same” and “he died doing what he loved”. For information on how the family requests that any rememberances be made, please see the previous page.
Dale Earnhardt was one of the most loved and most hated drivers on the NASCAR scene, both at the same time. He almost single-handedly helped to develop the market in NASCAR driver souvenirs, and sold more merchandise than any other driver in history. At the same time, many fans hated Earnhardt with a passion, all the while admiring and respecting his skill. One of those fans, President George W. Bush, phoned Earnhardt’s widow, Teresa to offer the First Family’s condolences. The President sat with the Earnhardt family while attending last year’s Pepsi 400, and considered the Earnhardts personal friends.
In his hometown of Kanopolis, North Carolina, fans, family and friends were in shock. Cars lined the way to the DEI, Inc. facility in Moorsville. Police attempted to guard the entrances to Earnhardt’s shop, but they did nothing to stop the fans who lined the road carrying candles and flowers to a hastily constructed memorial to their hero. At the local airport, people gathered to show their respect as the team aircraft arrived home, without its most famous passenger.