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

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
Men's College Basketball
68Final
78
67Final
79
96Final
85
5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET1:00 GMT9:00 北京时间6:00 MST8:00 EST
Preview
4
311:18
1st Half
44
6
5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET1:00 GMT9:00 北京时间6:00 MST8:00 EST
Preview
381:51
1st Half
27
102Final
94
90Final
82
68Final
73
22Halftime
39
70Final
OT
69
66Final
84
49Final
62
78Final
OT
76
5:15 PT6:15 MT7:15 CT8:15 ET1:15 GMT9:15 北京时间6:15 MST8:15 EST
Preview
18
68Final
66
78Final
61
52Final
77
8:00 PT9:00 MT10:00 CT11:00 ET4:00 GMT12:00 北京时间9:00 MST11:00 EST
Preview
23
NFL Scoreboard
Sunday, Jan. 22
Green Bay 12:05 PT1:05 MT2:05 CT3:05 ET20:05 GMT4:05 北京时间1:05 MST3:05 EST2:05 CT0:05 UAE (+1)15:05 ETNaN:�
Preview
Atlanta 
Pittsburgh 3:40 PT4:40 MT5:40 CT6:40 ET23:40 GMT7:40 北京时间4:40 MST6:40 EST5:40 CT3:40 UAE (+1)18:40 ETNaN:�
Preview
New England 
NBA Scoreboard
Portland939:10
4th Qtr
Boston90
Washington425:44
2nd Qtr
Detroit47
Philadelphia 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 MST7:00 EST4:00 UAE (+1)01:0019:00 ET6:00 CTNaN:�
Preview
Atlanta 
Brooklyn 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 MST7:00 EST4:00 UAE (+1)01:0019:00 ET6:00 CTNaN:�
Preview
Charlotte 
Milwaukee 4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET0:30 GMT8:30 5:30 MST7:30 EST4:30 UAE (+1)01:3019:30 ET6:30 CTNaN:�
Preview
Miami 
Phoenix 4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET0:30 GMT8:30 5:30 MST7:30 EST4:30 UAE (+1)01:3019:30 ET6:30 CTNaN:�
Preview
New York 
Houston 5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 MST8:00 EST5:00 UAE (+1)02:0020:00 ET7:00 CTNaN:�
Preview
Memphis 
San Antonio 5:30 PT6:30 MT7:30 CT8:30 ET1:30 GMT9:30 6:30 MST8:30 EST5:30 UAE (+1)02:3020:30 ET7:30 CTNaN:�
Preview
Cleveland 
Sacramento 6:00 PT7:00 MT8:00 CT9:00 ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 MST9:00 EST6:00 UAE (+1)03:0021:00 ET8:00 CTNaN:�
Preview
Chicago 
LA Clippers 6:00 PT7:00 MT8:00 CT9:00 ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 MST9:00 EST6:00 UAE (+1)03:0021:00 ET8:00 CTNaN:�
Preview
Denver 
Indiana 6:00 PT7:00 MT8:00 CT9:00 ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 MST9:00 EST6:00 UAE (+1)03:0021:00 ET8:00 CTNaN:�
Preview
Utah 
NHL Scoreboard
St. Louis3Final
Winnipeg5
Carolina22nd Int
Columbus2
Ottawa 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT
Preview
Toronto 
Buffalo 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT
Preview
Montreal 
Los Angeles 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT
Preview
NY Islanders 
New Jersey 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT
Preview
Philadelphia 
Tampa Bay 5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET1:00 GMT9:00 北京时间6:00 MST8:00 EST5:00 UAE (+1)20:00 ETNaN:� BRT
Preview
Arizona 
Washington 5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET1:00 GMT9:00 北京时间6:00 MST8:00 EST5:00 UAE (+1)20:00 ETNaN:� BRT
Preview
Dallas 
Anaheim 6:00 PT7:00 MT8:00 CT9:00 ET2:00 GMT10:00 北京时间7:00 MST9:00 EST6:00 UAE (+1)21:00 ETNaN:� BRT
Preview
Minnesota 
Edmonton 7:00 PT8:00 MT9:00 CT10:00 ET3:00 GMT11:00 北京时间8:00 MST10:00 EST7:00 UAE (+1)22:00 ETNaN:� BRT
Preview
Calgary 
Colorado 7:30 PT8:30 MT9:30 CT10:30 ET3:30 GMT11:30 北京时间8:30 MST10:30 EST7:30 UAE (+1)22:30 ETNaN:� BRT
Preview
San Jose 
ATP Scoreboard
Saturday, Jan. 21
Australian Open (ATP/WTA)
Third Round
(13) R. Bautista A7 66 77 6  
(21) D. Ferrer5 78 63 4  
(30) P. Carreno Bu4 6 4 6 2 
D. Istomin6 4 6 4 6 
(3) M. Raonic6 77 3 6  
(25) G. Simon2 65 6 3  
(6) G. Monfils6 77 6   
(32) P. Kohlschrei3 61 4   
(15) G. Dimitrov6 6 6   
(18) R. Gasquet3 2 4   
Fourth Round
(4) S. Wawrinka 
A. Seppi 
(1) A. Murray 
M. Zverev 
 
WTA Scoreboard
Saturday, Jan. 21
Australian Open (ATP/WTA)
Third Round
(12) T. Bacsinszky3 7 4   
(22) D. Gavrilova6 5 6   
(5) K. Pliskova4 6 10   
J. Ostapenko6 0 8   
Fourth Round
(8) S. Kuznetsova 
(24) A. Pavlyuchen 
(13) V. Williams 
M. Barthel