20th anniversary of Dale’s passing

rowdy3

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Going to be posting articles that I find in the next few days. Espn will have a special on feb 14th at noon.


 

BobbyFord

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I remember the day. The internet wasn’t what it is today.
I remember my buddy screaming on the phone when I told him.
It was a bad day.
 

Blaze

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Hard to believe it’s been that long. 20 years is such a long time. I don’t remember much from back in those days, but that’s one thing I do.


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DanicaFreak

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I don't want to go through that again. I will share this. When he was driving, I loved to hate him. But with him gone there is a hole in my heart. I was a Rusty fan and I loved to hate big E and Gordon.
 

Snappy D

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I was 16 years old, just started my foray into the work force ( my first real job)at the local supermarket. I worked that Sunday night but was able to watch the entire race before my 6-10 shift. I thought the wreck looked bad when I initially watched it live, the angle and sudden stop of speed made me think he wasn’t going to walk away unscathed, maybe an injury that will knock him out for some time. But I never thought the worst. So as my dad dropped me off we were talking about the race and before I went inside I’m like “ I hope Dale’s Okay” my dad responded he’s watched him walk away from worse. Now keep in mind this is 2001, I had no smart phone or way of checking news. It was a fast 4 hours and my mom picked me up at 10 pm. I asked her if Dale was okay, she said she had no idea (she didn’t watch the news that night). I hurriedly got inside when we got home and asked my dad “did Dale make it?” I’ll never forget the look on his face or the paleness of his skin...I knew the answer as soon as I took that picture in but a solemn quite No was all he could muster. It was the first time I had seen my father cry, it was jarring. That night I cried in the shower I wasn’t an Earnhardt fan at the time but I recognized how instrumental he was and what a cool dude he seemed. It was the first death of someone I didn’t know personally that would affect me, the second would be Kobe Bryant. This is someone I watched my family cheer for since my first childhood memories, it was jarring to see so many people upset about it. I still have the USA Today, Chicago Tribune saves at my parents somewhere. I also had the Sports Illustrated for that week but traded it to my biology teacher for a good grade on a few quizzes, wish I had that one back. I miss Dale, I miss the whole aurora around him. I miss what his son could have been if he had been around to save DEI. I miss the Intimidator look on pit road, I miss the way he raced. The memory will always live on with me, as I know it will with his legions of fans. I really hope in the future we get a Senna like documentary of Dale on Netflix or one of the streaming platforms, Dale deserves his Last Dance moment.
 

Go Panthers

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I remember the day. The internet wasn’t what it is today.
I remember my buddy screaming on the phone when I told him.
It was a bad day.
It was horrible. like most of us here, i was watching the race. My parents live about 2 or 3 miles from DEI, i had to take some stuff to my sister's new apartment and you had to drive DEI to get to her place. On the way there, we had just heard the news he passed, there was no one at DEI, on the way back about an hour later, you could barely drive by it as it was flooded with people flocking to the shop. It was like that for a solid week at least.

I pulled for Dale for as long as i could remember, he was the hometown guy for me, i mean, we went to the same church. He didnt come often because he was racing, but every now and then he'd be there.

I cant believe its been 20 years.
 

Snappy D

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Come to think of it I've never rewatched the 2001 Daytona 500, or even a highlight of the race. And thats not on purpose, its just never come up. I guess I never had a desire to rewatch it because of the immense sadness I would probably feel before, during and after a rewatch. In my Daytona 500 rewatches, its never even been qued up on YouTube.
 

Snappy D

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I watched the E60 on ESPN about Dale on Tuesday. Thought I was ready for it and was doing fine until they got to the part where Jr detailed about how he went back to the bus after coming back from Halifax and just sat in his bedroom in his bus and thought “what now I just lost my cheat sheet.” I teared up thinking if I lost my dad, hell im 36 and I think the same way as Jr....my dad is my cheat sheet. I couldn’t imagine being 25 like Jr was when he lost his father. Today has hit me a bit. Can’t believe it’s been 20 years, it truly has gone by so fast.
 

SpeedPagan

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I watched the race and honestly it didn't look like that bad of a hit. But then I watched the footage of the ambulance rushing him to the nearest hospital and a few hours later Mike Helton made the announcement that Dale Sr. passed away. The whole event was surreal.
 

Kiante

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Crazy how time flies, I was about seven years old around that time of the accident. I was very, very upset about it all after seeing what happened to Tony Roper, Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin, and then Dale Sr.

It took a toll on me and made realize the true danger involved with this sport. 2000 and 2001 were some extremely dark years for NASCAR, we lost two young, promising men and drivers, and then arguably the biggest icon of the sport. I remember seeing them showing Kenny Schrader's face when he walked up to Dale's car...

He's missed and always will be, its something many fans will still never get over because I've never seen a more polarizing figure in Dale Sr. He just cannot be replicated.
 

kkfan91

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20210218_093817.jpg
 

Revman

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Not sure if I really want to relive that day yet another time.

Me either. I pay my respects ever race. Every single race. I never saw Sr. run....but I have imagined how big it would have been every time I am at the track. I always spend a few seconds thanking him. I miss him.
 
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I was also pretty young when this happened but I was watching the race live with my dad. It was the first time I watched someone die on tv in racing but unfortunately wasn't the last. It was 10 years after but that week in October 2011 where we watched Dan Wheldon in indycar and then Marco Simoncelli in moto gp both lose their lives in horrific fashion had me crying like a baby for awhile. Dan with his two young kids, Marco being so young. Blah, such a horrible time in racing. Justin Wilson's accident was such a freak unfortunate set of circumstances.

I'm not bringing those up to compare which situation is worse but in terms of viewing live we thought Dale Sr was ok because that crash really didn't look like anything out of the ordinary that we hadn't seen drivers walk away from in the past so it was such a shock to eventually hear the news that Dale had passed away. It absolutely looked like something he should have walked away from. Dan and Marco's crashes were so bad visually that I knew they were gone and Justin being struck in the head at that speed we knew it wasn't going to end well.

I'm sorry I rambled a bit but when I think of Dale Sr, I end up thinking of all the drivers who I've seen pass away doing something that was for our entertainment. I hope to never see someone pass away racing for the rest of our lives, I know it's highly unlikely but that's what hope is all about anyway.
 

StandOnIt

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Not trying to sound like the grim reaper, but I am concerned about the safety of the open wheeled dirt sprint/midget cars. A lot of the tracks I see have sub standard fencing and posts and all kinds of what all they can run into at speed. I think they have a lot of areas they can improve on.
 

rowdy3

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I still remember that day. I woke up early and headed to the flea-market to pick up my tickets. Had French toast at the restaurant there. Since this was our 3rd 500 and newbies my sister decided to leave the car there. We walked to the speedway about a mile away. We walked the merchandise trailers before heading to our seats in oldfield. At that time coke had a promotion where underneath the cap was a code. You dialed the number on the bottle and you were able to listen to a coke driver for 5 minutes. I used to my sisters phone but the reception was bad at the track. Once they covered his car I knew he died. Leaving the track was so quiet. In the car I listened to mrn and they didn’t really provide an update. Forgot what channel I heard the announcement but it was on every major station in central Florida. When Mike Helton uttered those words I cried. The following day I couldn’t find the newspaper at the stores or any of the stands. I went to a bank and since it was president’s day it was laying in the parking lot and took it home with me. On Tuesday when I went back to school I was in 6th grade and that was the only thing people talked about. Tons of tributes in Florida. In Daytona lots of businesses lowered their flags, in Sanford a Chevy dealership had a big 3 banner, there was a memorial outside Daytona USA, people in town had their 3 flags out, one guy had shaped Christmas lights into a 3 and hung it from a tree. For the next few weeks he was in the newspaper everyday. It was like a president dying from the coverage and people mourning.
 

2019PensekeFan

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I was in the eight grade at that time at first the wreck didn't look that bad, but seeing Fox's footage of the ambulance going to the hospital was when I really got worried. I prayed and cried myself to sleep out of worry and woke up later to find out the awful truth from the local news. I've seen some highlights of the 2001 500 but have never been able to bring myself to watch the whole thing from start to finish.
 
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