NASCAR Legends: Dale Earnhardt

NASCAR Legends: Dale Earnhardt

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  1. “Ironhead.” “The Intimidator.” The Man in Black.” All of these were names by which NASCAR fans knew one of the greatest drivers in the history of the series – Dale Earnhardt.

    Earnhardt was a second generation, the son of former NASCAR Sportsman driver Ralph Earnhardt. The elder Earnhardt did not want his son to drive, but the younger Earnhardt wouldn’t hear him, eventually dropping out of high school to race. He made his Cup Series debut (then sponsored by Winston) in 1975, but didn’t get a full-time ride until 1979, when he ran for – and won – Rookie of the Year with Rod Osterlund Racing. In 1980, he won the first of seven Cup Series titles – tied with “The King,” Richard Petty, for the most Cup Series championships.

    Earnhardt’s career with Richard Childress Racing initially started in 1981. After a two-year stint with Bud Moore (at Childress’ suggestion), Childress and Earnhardt were unstoppable and inseparable. In 1984 and 1985, Earnhardt tallied six wins, and in 1986, he won his second title, the first for RCR. It was during this time that Earnhardt started acquiring his nicknames, based on his aggressive style on track, as well as the color of his car and driver’s uniform.

    Earnhardt went on to win championships in 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, and 1994. He also started Dale Earnhardt Inc., his own team that went on to field cars in the Nationwide and Cup Series, most notably for his son Dale Earnhardt Jr. In 2001, while two DEI cars were leading the Daytona 500 – driven by Jr. and long-time Earnhardt friend Michael Waltrip – Earnhardt was involved in the accident that took his life.

    Earnhardt was inducted into the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010, and was also inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2002 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2006.

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