Ten years ago today Dale Earnhardt, Sr. passed away. February 18, 2001.
Every time I think of Dale Earnhardt, I think of my father. My father was a Sr. and so was Earnhardt. They both passed away on 18ths (my dad passed away on December 18, 2003). They both died at the age of 49.
When I was a kid I would watch NASCAR races with my father and my uncle Danny. They were both big time Earnhardt fans, and so I followed. We would watch every race each Sunday, intently watching for Earnhardt’s next move. The Intimidator drove the black number 3 Chevy with his aggressive “by any means necessary” approach.
Earnhardt’s “no bullshit” Southern temperament garnered him respect yet some infamy from the racing community. He was always the type of driver that was either loved or hated. When I was a kid I revered him.
When Earnhardt passed away, my father wrote a poem about him. Maybe you can see where I got my writing from.
‘Hope you enjoy:
Bye bye to an American icon, who drove his Chevy on Sunday when racing was fun.
And good old boys drinking beer in the stands, said Earnhardt, he was their man, yeah Earnhardt, he was their man.
So bye bye to the man in black, he drove the number 3 Chevy on the race track
And good old boys drinking beer in the stands, said that Iron Head, he was their man, yeah, Iron Head, he was their man.
So bye bye to the man in black, he wore dark sunglasses and a baseball cap
Yes, I can still see him with that sneaky grin, I know how much he loves to win.
And good old boys drinking beer in the stands, said the Intimidator, he was their man, yeah, the Intimidator, he was their man.
How did he learn to drive so fast? Did you see him go around him through the grass?
And boy, I can’t believe the way he made that last pass.
I know he don’t like to finish last.
With seven championships in his hat, it seemed that the man would last and last.
He had been driving for Nascar for twenty some years.
The man in black never shown any fear.
And even though, he had sons who raced, they could never take his place
He was the man you either loved, or hate, this is part of what made him great
So bye bye North Carolina’s favorite son, your race is over, you have did all that you could have done.
Just good old boys, having fun, racing in the sun.
They started singing bye bye to a racer’s son, everybody knew he was the greatest one.
It was Daytona that he went away, February 18, we won’t forget that dreadful day. The day that NASCAR died.
A lot of people told me that I should publish this, but I refuse to, because 1.) It’s my Dad’s work; and 2.) If I did publish it, money would eventually come out of it, and I wouldn’t feel right about it. I look back at this piece and remember the many great memories of talking about sports with my Dad.
Dale Sr. died on February 18, 2001 at the age of 49. My Dad, Troy Sr., died on December 18, 2003 at the age of 49. There’s no doubt what a peculiar coincidence that is.
Dale, Sr. passed, my uncle Danny passed away on May 21, 2002, and my father Troy, Sr. passed.
I haven’t paid very much attention to NASCAR since 2004. My interest dwindled over the years tenfold, but the memories of all those Sundays when I was a kid will always remain.