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Hagerty Employee

Remembering Dale Earnhardt, 20 years later | Hagerty Media

On February 18, 2001, during the last lap of the Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt was involved in a crash that sent him head-on into the outside retaining wall. NASCAR's most prolific driver died upon impact, suffering from a basilar skull fracture. The racing world mourned.

There may be Richard Petty fans who take issue with the statement, "NASCAR’s greatest hero...".
Pit Crew

Agreed, Flashman. Count me in.

Richard Petty is the King and always will be. Dale Earnhardt was the best driver ever and was tragically lost in a racing accident. Richard is still alive and people can see him and even get his autograph if they are lucky. Dale is gone.

Death often makes a hero even larger because of his absence. Richard is the King. Dale is the biggest hero.
Intermediate Driver

Very nice write up Cameron

I still miss Dale 20 years after his death.

Dale Earnhardt was a skilled driver who could have competed at the top level in any kind of racing but if he drove the way he drove in NASCAR in any other kind of sanctioned racing short of demolition derbies he would have been banned for avoidable contact. That's putting aside the special treatment that he got from the France family. There were 'Earnhardt rules' in NASCAR just as surely as there were 'Jordan rules' in the NBA. When your sport's biggest star brakes the rules, you enforce them differently.

I may be picking on a casually selected word choice but getting into a "skirmish" at 200+ MPH sounds like poor judgment to me. All preventable deaths are tragic, death in recreation even more so but the silver lining is the resulting safety improvements that have certainly prevented more tragedies.

Dale was great and carried NASCAR in the greatest era of growth. He had a personality and he was villain and hero all in one.

Dale came up the hard way unlike many drivers today. He had to win to eat and never gave that style up. He was not afraid to speak upon to Bill Jr if he did something dumb too.

Richard was good in his era but he always had the best cars and team too. Dale did not always have the best car and often made a 10th place car a winning car with his skills.

The best driver of NASCAR though was David Pearson. The Silver Fox never ran the number of races the others did and still holds the record for winning percentage. He not only did it for one but 3 different teams.

I have heard Richard and Dale both say they thought he was the best. The best we will never know was Tim Richmond. He was one of the best to come along ever but his life style killed him.

As for Dale in other series he would have been ok. He knew what he could get away with in NASCAR but he also was at an age where he knew when to pull it in too. The Corvettes were next for him as 2001 was his last year. How I would have loved to have seen him at Lemans.

I talked to Andy Pilgrim at Mid Ohio in 2001. He said he had no doubt he would have been a top driver in IMSA.


I might add we could use a lot more drivers like what we had. Guys that were hungry and maybe a little ruff around the edges. Today they cookie cut marketing approved drivers are a bore. 


I used to sit in the 60's to just watch 15 min of a race to see NASCAR. Today with the fake chase and stage format I seldom tune in for the last 15 min.  I just realized this year how much I gave up on NASCAR. 


Today they are all about trying to fabricate a show, they are also now delving into politics and social issues etc. I just want to watch a race to get away from the world for a couple hours. Now the PC culture has killed this too. 

Intermediate Driver

I would have thought the comments would be more towards the evolution of safety in racing not nitpicking about whose the best or greatest

Haven't really followed nascar since his death . To me when Dale died so did nascar its really sad for the sport . We cant compare Dale to Richard they raced in different times . Its like comparing Michael vs LeBron today we will never no . When i watched Dale race it was electric energy on my tv set .
Intermediate Driver

I remember him stressing education.

I was 28 when Dale died....I cried too....the only death I’ve taken harder was my own father in 05 at the age of 57.
Intermediate Driver

I have what I believe to be a rare piece of Dale Earnhardt memorabilia. It is a photo of him on the cover of the April, 1996 edition of Motor Service, a long-defunct automotive repair trade magazine. I have to think that few, if any, of this issue probably still exist, and those that do are probably already in the hands of collectors. I can tell you that it is is the only copy I have ever seen.
The article inside the magazine in which Dale’s photo appears is not specifically about him – it more covers a full spectrum of auto racing in the U.S. for the 1996 season. The magazine also contains a foldout poster sponsored by Snap On, which contains the 1996 racing season TV schedule. At 25 years old, the magazine is in very good condition. Its worst flaw is the cover is loose/torn at the bottom staple. I, personally, am not a collector of racing memorabilia. I have this because I used to be in the automotive repair business, and this magazine was left over among a bunch of other old publications that I saved over the years. So, if anyone reading this is interested in obtaining this magazine, contact me through this post. We can connect, I'll send you photos of it, whatever.