banner
Ken Medlin

Ten years later, Earnhardt still missed

Posted February 20, 2011

It’s been ten years since the passing of Dale Earnhardt, and I’m convinced NASCAR has not fully recovered.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Earnhardt this week. Specifically, I recall a story Bob Holliday and I did with him only a few weeks before his death.

We were at the “Garage Mahal,” Dale Earnhardt, Inc.’s palatial shop north of Charlotte. Earnhardt was hosting a number of media members for preseason stories before heading for Daytona.

What struck me was how different Dale Earnhardt was that day. He could be a gruff fellow when he wanted to be, but on that afternoon “The Intimidator” talked about being a father to Dale, Jr. and a friend to Michael Waltrip. Waltrip had moved over to DEI, and Earnhardt, Sr. described him as being like a younger brother.

He was cracking jokes about how Junior liked to sleep all day, and how Michael spent so much time training for marathons. Dale Sr. said he couldn’t outrun Michael, but he could climb a tree better.

It was a side most of us had never seen before, a stark contrast to the intense figure we saw at the track. Earnhardt let us see a little glimpse of Dale the man as opposed to Dale the Intimidator. I can’t ever think about his passing without thinking of that day.

Stock car racing was at its peak in 2001. Two decades of steady growth had taken the sport from what most outside of the South considered just a “Southern Thing” into a truly national enterprise.

But, in losing Earnhardt, NASCAR lost its last true icon. Imagine the NFL without the Cowboys, or Major League Baseball without the Yankees. Fans either love those teams or hate them, but they watch whenever these teams play.

That’s what Dale Earnhardt did for NASCAR.

Comments

This blogpost is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Football Friday with Tom Suiter

    Tomorrow at 11:35 pm on WRAL-TV

  • US Open Tennis: Men’s & Women’s Third Round

    Saturday at 11:00 am on WRAL-TV

  • ACC Football Kickoff Show

    Saturday at 7:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • US Open Tennis: Men’s Third Round & Women’s Fourth Round

    Sunday at 11:00 am on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Panthers at Pittsburgh

    Tomorrow at 7:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • CFB: NC State vs Georgia Southern

    Saturday at 12:30 pm on WRAL-FM

  • HSFB: Southern Durham at Hillside

    Saturday at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • High School Wrap Up Show

    Sunday at 9:00 am on 99.9 The Fan

  • Football Friday
Scoreboard
Local
Final
GWI 8
DUR 1
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
7:30pm Tonight
PIT
CAR
Final
PIT 3
STL 1
Final
SEA 4
TEX 12
Final
BAL 1
TAM 3
Final
PHI 8
WAS 4
Final
TOR 5
BOS 2
Final
DET 4
NYY 8
Final
NYM 2
ATL 3
Final
CIN 7
CHC 5
Final
CWS 3
CLE 2
Final
KAN 6
MIN 1
Final
HOU 4
OAK 5
Final
SDP 3
MIL 2
Final
ARI 1
LOS 3
Final
ANA 6
MIA 1
Final
SFG 4
COL 2
 
12:35pm Today
CIN
CHC
 
1:08pm Today
DET
NYY
 
3:45pm Today
SFG
COL
 
7:05pm Tonight
BAL
TAM
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
ATL
 
8:10pm Tonight
CWS
CLE
 
8:10pm Tonight
KAN
MIN
 
8:10pm Tonight
HOU
TEX
 
10:05pm Tonight
ANA
OAK
 
6:00pm Tonight
SCAR
TEXAM
7:02pm Tonight
LAMON
WAKE
8:00pm Tonight
MISS
BSU
8:00pm Tonight
TULSA
TULA
9:15pm Tonight
VANDY
TEMPL
10:00pm Tonight
WASU
RUTG
10:30pm Tonight
ARST
WEBER
6:00pm Tonight
JAC
ATL
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
DET
7:00pm Tonight
CIN
IND
7:00pm Tonight
GBP
KAN
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
NYJ
7:00pm Tonight
MIA
STL
7:30pm Tonight
PIT
CAR
7:30pm Tonight
NYG
NEP
7:30pm Tonight
TAM
WAS
8:00pm Tonight
NOS
BAL
8:00pm Tonight
CLE
CHI
8:00pm Tonight
DAL
DEN
8:00pm Tonight
TEN
MIN
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
SFX
10:00pm Tonight
SDC
ARI
10:00pm Tonight
OAK
SEA
Final
GWI 8
DUR 1
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR