Just as most people could tell you where they were on September 11, 2001, die-hard NASCAR fans can tell you exactly where they were on February 18, 2001. That’s the day that the sport lost one of its most recognizable drivers, Dale Earnhardt Sr., in a last-lap crash at the Daytona 500.
Today, however, we pause to celebrate the man who would’ve been 63 on this date. Born April 29, 1951, Earnhardt Sr. remains an icon. His personality and on-track style are unmatched on today’s tracks, and he’s still regaled by legions of fans as the greatest ever.
“The Intimidator” earned his moniker early in his career. Who wouldn't be intimidated by a driver who won “Rookie of the Year” honors and the first of seven Cup championships in back-to-back years? Known for bumping others to take the lead on his way to a win, Earnhardt Sr. had the respect of his peers both on-and off-track.
The father of four is a member of multiple halls of fame, including the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. He was among the inaugural class of drivers inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010.
This writer’s fondest memory of “the man in black” is his triumphant victory in the 1998 Daytona 500. Following 20 career-starts at the famed superspeedway, Earnhardt Sr. finally took the checkered flag and was greeted along pit road by every other driver and crew member in the garage.
What are your favorite memories of “The Intimidator”? Share them with us in the comments section below.