Dale Earnhardt

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Himself (archive footage) on SportsCentury


4/29/1951, Kannapolis,NC



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  • Credits
  • Biography
  • American race-car champion and favorite of the fans known as "the Intimidator" due to being a relentless, hard-charging driver who never let up. Earnhardt is the first driver in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series history who ever won the Rookie title of the year one year and the following year, went on to win his first Championship in the same series. He has won nearly every major event and title available to NASCAR Winston Cup drivers, including the Daytona 500. The seven-time Winston Cup winner was killed instantly of blunt-force injuries to the head on 2/18/2001 after crashing on the final turn of the final lap at the Daytona 500 while Michael Waltrip raced to victory, Daytona Beach, FL. Earnhardt lost control of his car and slammed head-on into a concrete wall at 180 mph. The Washington Post web site stated that Dale was pronounced dead at Halifex Medical Center at 5.16 PM although the doctor stated he was killed instantly on impact so the time was possibly closer to 5:00 PM. Dale was his father's son. His dad Ralph, known as Ironheart, was a short-track racing pro and taught his son the tricks of the trade. Dale was not much for school and dropped out in the ninth grade to hang out at the track. He was as wild and reckless a teenager as they come but he grew up to be the epitome of the racing hero, who never took his foot off the gas. With massive, irresistible appeal, he was the wild card, the one who would never give up. Married at 17, Dale and his first wife had a son, Kerry. For his apprenticeship, he turned wrenches at a local tire shop, earning money to race the weekly dirt-track race. He began copping titles from the beginning. Supporting a young family, he got sponsorship from a motorcycle shop of $75 a week to promote them. In 1975 he began his pro racing career at 24, the year after his beloved dad died. His style was aggressive from the start, hard-driving and intense, which did not endear him to his working community, though the fans loved him -- or hated him. With a second marriage, to Brenda, Dale became father to Kelley and Dale Jr. His third marriage, to Theresa was the one that lasted and gave him another daughter, Taylor Nicole. As he began to accumulate winning capital, he started Dale Earnhardt Inc, an auto-racing company that grew to employ 200 and maintain three racing teams on NASCAR's Winston Cup circuit. Besides the seven Championships, Dale also finished 2nd in the Winston Cup points in 1989 and 1995. Earnhardt was in a very dangerous business but the rewards were great. His racing statistics are impressive but also impressive is the fact that by 1998, his career earnings tallied well over $300,000,000. This included more than $41 million in winnings and ten times that from endorsements and souvenir sales. He had a beautiful home and a private jet. He drove the most sophisticated cars allowed and every part was inspected and replaced as soon as there was any evidence of wear, funded by the car and team sponsors. As a hobby, he bought a ranch of thoroughbred racing horses. Loyal to his friends, Dale was generous to his public and coworkers and denoted time and money to the Make-a-Wish Foundation for terminal kids. Ironically, Earnhardt's son, Dale Jr, finished second in Sunday's race before knowing that his dad had not survived the violent crash. On the following Sunday, Dale Jr. crashed in the wall in the same way that his dad had -- and the entire stadium held their breaths until they saw him walk away NickName: The Intimidator Survived by wife Teresa 2 sons Kerry & Dale Jr. 2 daughters Kelley & Taylor Nicolemoreless

    Birth Name:

    Ralph Dale Earnhardt



    Birth Place:


    Also Known As

    The Intimadator, Ironhead, The Dominator, Big E, The Man in Black

  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (27)

    • Jeff Gordon (On what Dale Earnhardt meant to the sport of racing): Oh, he meant so much. I mean, you know, I think our sport is what it is today because of Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty. But I mean, Dale, you know, he really took it to the next level, and I mean, he was such a fierce competitor, but he understood the business. He understood, you know, the fans and the sponsors and every aspect of the competition versus the entertainment side of it. And he enjoyed it, enjoyed being out on that race car, and you know, he just put on a heck of a show.

    • Dale Earnhardt: To win more championships and stay alive in this sport, it's very, very, hard and it's hard to understand how it works.

    • Dale Earnhardt: The atmosphere seems to change once the sun goes down and the race fans get to watch a good show.

    • Dale Earnhardt: My job is to drive that black No. 3.

    • Dale Earnhardt: If I was 30th in points and not making races and not being competitive in races, I could understand them saying I'm over-the-hill or I'm ready to quit or whatever.

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    Trivia (36)

    • One of Dale's biggest rivals was his good friend, Rusty Wallace.

    • Dale appeared in the Brooks and Dunn music video for Honky Tonk Truth.

    • Dale was named NASCAR's Most Popular Driver in 2001. This was the only time he ever received this award.

    • Dale married Latane Key in 1968, when he was only 17 years old. They had one son, Kerry, in 1969. They divorced in 1970. Dale married for the second time in 1971. He married Brenda Gee, who gave birth to a daughter, Kelley, in 1972, and a son, Dale Jr., in 1974. After the birth of their children they divorced. Dale married Teresa Houston in 1982. They were still married at the time of his death. They had daughter, Taylor Nicole on December 20, 1988.

    • In 1997 Dale Earnhardt just came short at Daytona and ended up in 2nd place. In 1998, he added the last jewel to his crown and won the Daytona 500 for the first time in his career.

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