Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Dale Earnhardt Snr was one of the greatest NASCAR drivers, known for his aggressive style of driving. Known by numerous nicknames such as “The Intimidator”, “The Dominator”, “Big E” and “Ironhead”, Dale Earnhardt was one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR. Aside from his distinctive personality and driving ability, Earnhardt earned his place in autoracing history with his Winston Cup Series victories and as the winner of 7 championships.
Ralph Dale Earnhardt was born on 29 April 1951 in Kannapolis of North Carolina. Born into a family where his father, Ralph, was a top NASCAR short-track driver, it is little wonder that Dale became interested in the sport. Dale Earnhardt, Sr. debuted in the Winston Cup in the year 1975, and in his first race driving an Ed Negre, he passed the finish line in 22nd place. In 1979 Earnhardt joined Rod Osterlund Racing, and during his rookie season, he won Rookie of the Year after gaining four poles and several great finishes. 1980 was filled with success for Earnhardt and he clinched the Winston Cup championship. Earnhardt moved to Richard Childress Racing in 1981, and although he had a bad season in 1982, he came back with remarkable strength in 1983. He gained his second Winston Cup Championship in 1986. Earnhardt saw a grand victory in 1986, once again winning, by 288 points.
The 1990s were off to a good start when Earnhardt won the Winston Cup for the 4th time in his career. He repeated this victory again in 1991, 1993 and 1994 – a total of 7 Winston Cup championship wins. He suffered a grave accident in 1996 which led the NASCAR officials to mandate the “Earnhardt Bar”. Fortunately Dale Earnhardt survived, although he had several broken bones. In 1998 Earnhardt finally gained victory at the Daytona 500, a win he had been aiming for for some 20 years. Earnhardt excited the crowds in 2000 with two thrilling wins, neck-in-neck with Bobby Labonte.
Sadly Dale Earnhardt Sr. was involved in a terrible accident in the 2001 Daytona 500 and lost his life. The death of Dale Earnhardt led to much media speculation, extensive coverage and great public concern. Following his death, NASCAR placed greater emphasis on safety with better restraints, safer barriers, strict rules for vehicle inspection and the development of a roof escape system.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. received many awards in his lifetime for his exceptional role in NASCAR, and in 1998 was placed second in NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. Earnhardt was named Most Popular NASCAR Driver of 2001 and was an inductee of the Motorsports Hall of Fame Of America in 2002. Recently, in 2006 he was also inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. His son Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues in his father’s footsteps as a successful driver. Earnhardt also left behind three other children, namely, Kelley King, Taylor and Kerry. Dale Earnhardt Snr was certainly a force to be reckoned with on the race track and will always be remembered for his grand achievements.