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
  • Premier League: Leicester vs. Manchester City

    Tomorrow at 12:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: Franklin Templeton Shootout

    Tomorrow at 1:00 pm on FOX50

  • Golf: PNC Father/Son Challenge

    Tomorrow at 4:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: Utah at Xavier

    Tomorrow at 5:30 pm on FOX50

  • MLS: Seattle at Toronto

    Tomorrow at 8:00 pm on FOX50

  • Golf: PNC Father/Son Challenge

    Sunday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Dallas at NY Giants

    Sunday at 8:20 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CFB: Army vs. Navy

    Tomorrow at 2:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • CBB: NC State vs. Tennessee State

    Tomorrow at 4:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • NHL: Hurricanes at LA Kings

    Tomorrow at 10:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NFL: Panthers vs. San Diego

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Top 25
Sat, Dec 10
25
12:00 PT1:00 MT2:00 CT3:00 ET8:00 GMT4:00 北京时间1:00 MST3:00 EST
Preview
Men's College Basketball
4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET12:30 GMT8:30 北京时间5:30 MST7:30 EST
Preview
10
NFL Scoreboard
Thursday, Dec. 8
Oakland13Final
Kansas City21
Sunday, Dec. 11
Pittsburgh 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Buffalo 
San Diego 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Carolina 
Cincinnati 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Cleveland 
Chicago 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Detroit 
Houston 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Indianapolis 
Minnesota 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Jacksonville 
Arizona 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Miami 
Washington 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Philadelphia 
Denver 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Preview
Tennessee 
NY Jets 1:05 PT2:05 MT3:05 CT4:05 ET21:05 GMT5:05 北京时间2:05 MST4:05 EST3:05 CT1:05 UAE (+1)16:05 ETNaN:�
Preview
San Francisco 
Seattle 1:25 PT2:25 MT3:25 CT4:25 ET21:25 GMT5:25 北京时间2:25 MST4:25 EST3:25 CT1:25 UAE (+1)16:25 ETNaN:�
Preview
Green Bay 
Atlanta 1:25 PT2:25 MT3:25 CT4:25 ET21:25 GMT5:25 北京时间2:25 MST4:25 EST3:25 CT1:25 UAE (+1)16:25 ETNaN:�
Preview
Los Angeles 
New Orleans 1:25 PT2:25 MT3:25 CT4:25 ET21:25 GMT5:25 北京时间2:25 MST4:25 EST3:25 CT1:25 UAE (+1)16:25 ETNaN:�
Preview
Tampa Bay 
Dallas 5:30 PT6:30 MT7:30 CT8:30 ET1:30 GMT9:30 北京时间6:30 MST8:30 EST7:30 CT5:30 UAE (+1)20:30 ETNaN:�
Preview
NY Giants 
Monday, Dec. 12
Baltimore 5:30 PT6:30 MT7:30 CT8:30 ET1:30 GMT9:30 北京时间6:30 MST8:30 EST7:30 CT5:30 UAE (+1)20:30 ETNaN:�
Preview
New England 
NBA Scoreboard
Orlando 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 
Toronto 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
Boston 
Miami 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
Cleveland 
Atlanta 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
Milwaukee 
Detroit 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
Minnesota 
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
Oklahoma City 
Indiana 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
Dallas 
Phoenix 7:30 PT8:30 MT9:30 CT10:30 ET3:30 GMT11:30 8:30 MST10:30 EST7:30 UAE (+1)04:3022:30 ET9:30 CTNaN:�
Preview
LA Lakers 
New York 7:30 PT8:30 MT9:30 CT10:30 ET3:30 GMT11:30 8:30 MST10:30 EST7:30 UAE (+1)04:3022:30 ET9:30 CTNaN:�
Preview
Sacramento 
NHL Scoreboard
Washington 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
Buffalo 
Columbus 4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET0:30 GMT8:30 北京时间5:30 MST7:30 EST4:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ETNaN:� BRT
Preview
Detroit 
St. Louis 4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET0:30 GMT8:30 北京时间5:30 MST7:30 EST4:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ETNaN:� BRT
Preview
New Jersey 
Edmonton 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
Minnesota 
NY Rangers 5:30 PT6:30 MT7:30 CT8:30 ET1:30 GMT9:30 北京时间6:30 MST8:30 EST5:30 UAE (+1)20:30 ETNaN:� BRT
Preview
Chicago 
San Jose 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
Anaheim 
Minor League Baseball
International League
El Paso 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre