Dale Earnhardt Sr.: A Memory and a Legacy

Credit: David Taylor for Getty Images 

I was six years old when Dale Earnhardt Sr. died on Feb. 18, 2001. I may have been just a kid, but like everyone else, I remember where I was and who I was with at the end of that race.

That day will forever be etched into the minds of every NASCAR fan around the world. It’s been 20 years since The Intimidator lost his life on the final lap of the Daytona 500, but his legacy still lives on and continues to impact Motorsports today. 

My daddy was a Bill Elliott fan growing up, so anything and everything I knew was through the lens of the Earnhardt rival. My most prominent memory is Earnhardt winning the Daytona 500 in 1998 and how every crew member and team congratulated him on his victory. That’s how big Earnhardt was. It didn’t matter whether or not you were a fan of his, because on that day, you were.

Credit: Darryl Moran Photography 

I think that mindset still rings true today, because Earnhardt Sr.’s legacy is still being built, even two decades after of the anniversary of his death. Earnhardt’s legacy is all around us. It’s there every time a driver puts on a helmet and attaches a HANS device. His legacy is there every time the No. 3 goes around the track and each time NASCAR examines a crash to push the envelope of industry safety further.

My own personal appreciation of Earnhardt Sr. grew as I got older and watched his namesake create his own everlasting legacy. I learned a lot about who he was while reading Jay Busbee’s Earnhardt Nation: The Full-Throttle Saga of NASCAR’s First Family. The memories of everyone in the industry have become my own keepsake that I hope to hand down to any future children of my own, if I’m lucky.

A lot of stories have been shared about the seven-time champion, but there's still a lot to learn and know about him. Dale Sr. may be gone, but he hasn’t gone anywhere. He’ll never be forgotten as long as there is someone telling his story.
Dale Earnhardt Sr.: A Memory and a Legacy Dale Earnhardt Sr.: A Memory and a Legacy Reviewed by Courtney Horn on Thursday, February 18, 2021 Rating: 5

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