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Saturday, January 17, 2015

25 Things You Didn't Know About Dale Earnhardt

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Posted by Kendra Beltran

 

25 Things You Didn't Know About Dale Earnhardt

 
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He was the greatest racing had ever known, now it’s time to learn more about the man, the myth, the legend.

1. The Starting Line

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He came into this world on April 29, 1951  

2. Stomping Ground

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His birthplace of Kannapolis, North Carolina is in the heart of Stock Car Racing country. Many of the other greats like Richard Petty and Junior Johnson hail from Western N.C.

3. It’s all Hereditary

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The Earnhardts are NASAR royalty. His dad, Ralph Earnhardt, was among the original bootlegger-turned-race drivers in the early days of stock car racing. Three of Dale's children have gone on to careers in the sport, as well.

4. First Lap

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Earnhardt earned his first sponsorship in 1978, after an impressive amateur career. Immediately after, he was the 1979 Winston Cup Rookie of the year.


 5. He Began His Career In Pink.
 
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 Earnhardt's first sponsor when he was 19, was DayVault's Tune Ups & Brake Service -- a local garage. When he and his crew mixed the paint batch for the 1956 Ford, they meant for it to come out in purple flake.

  They mixed it wrong, and the car ended up pink. Money was tight, so they couldn't afford a re-spray, and just went with a pink car.

6. Back-to-Back

6. Back-to-Back

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To this day, Earnhardt remains the only NASCAR driver to win the Winston Cup Championship the season after winning Rookie

 

7. Goodbye Pops

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His father, Ralph passed away from a heart attack in 1973. It was shortly after that Earnhardt got serious about stock car racing, and reportedly took a long time to feel as though he'd come even close to honoring his fathers legacy. Some have said the same sentiment has been displayed by Dale Jr.

8. Jackpot

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He was the first driver to win over $200,000 during his rookie season.

9. Ancestry

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The Earnhardts are of German ancestry, which was an oddity in early stock car racing. Most drivers at the time were of Scots-Irish ancestry, descending directly from the original bootleggers of Appalachia.

10. 7th Heaven

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He won seven Winston Cup Championships in his career, which ties him with the all-time great, Richard Petty for the most career championships.

11. Order Of The Long Leaf Pine

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In 1994, North Carolina Governor, Jim Hunt, awarded Dale Earnhardt the Order Of The Long Leaf Pine -- the highest award that can be given by the Tarheel State. Other recipients have been Rev. Billy Graham, Coretta Scott King , Andy Griffith & Michael Jordan.

                                                    Esse Quam Videri !

12. Survivor

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In 1997 he had a bad scare at Darlington in the Mountain Dew Southern 500, when he blacked out in the race car and hit the wall. It's thought this was caused by lingering effects from an earlier crash at Daytona Speed weeks.

13. Family Man

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He has two sons and two daughters; Kerry, Dale Jr., Kelley and Taylor. Kerry is the son of Dale and hid first wife, Latane Brown. Dale Jr. and Kelly were from his second marriage and Taylor Nichole was born to Dale and Theresa.

14. Not So Wedded Bliss

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He was married three times, beginning with his first wife Latane, whom he married at 17 years old.
His second wife was Brenda Gee, is the daughter of legendary car builder , Robert Gee. He married his third wife, Theresa Houston in 1982. It was Theresa who helped found DEI.

15. Total Wins

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He had 76 total career wins -- however he only won the prestigious Daytona 500 one time, in 1998.
His drought at Daytona was almost a running punch line in the 1990's.


       
 
 16. By Another Name  
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He was known as “The Man in Black” and “Darth Vader” due to his black suit and car. He is most well known as "The Intimidator", because of his aggressive driving style and habit of hanging out in opposing driver's rear views simply to antagonize them.


17. Final Lap

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Dale died instantly from blunt force trauma to the head in 2001 during the final lap of the Daytona 500. Following his deadly crash, NASCAR began a long push to focus on drivers safety, including
head and neck protection. At the time of his crash, certain safety features in his car were installed incorrectly, leaving some to wonder if his death was preventable.

 18. Resting Place 

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His funeral was at the Calvary Church in Charlotte, NC on February 22, 2001. Flags in the state of North Carolina were immediately ordered at half staff. Dale Earnhardt's final resting place is on the family farm.

 
 19. On The Road 
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Seven different roads have been named after him. Six of them are in N. Carolina, one of those in his home town of Kannapolis,  The seventh is an entrance road to Texas Motor Speedway.
 

20. Earnhardt Tower

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There is a seating section at Daytona International Speedway called the “Earnhardt Tower” that was named shortly before his passing. The Grandstand contains some of the most sought after seats at the speedway.


21. The Earnhardt-Gordon "Rivalry"

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Earnhardt spent much of the 1990s going head-to-head with then newcomer Jeff Gordon. While the two often duked it out on the track, there was a division between fans. Since Gordon represented
a huge shift in NASCAR culture, and the fans of the two drivers were fierce rivals, Dale and Jeff were friends and business partners off the track.


22. Two Roller Coasters Were Built In His Honor

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King's Dominion in Doswell, VA and Carowinds in Charlotte, N.C. (both Paramount theme parks,)
are the home of the "Intimidator 305" roller coasters. the Dale Earnhardt themed coasters feature Black #3 cars and famously high speeds.

23. Ned Yost

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Ned Yost and Earnhardt were close friends. After Earnhardt's death, Yost was an Asst. coach for the Atlanta Braves and changed his number to "3", in honor of his friend.

24. Funding The Future

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The Dale Earnhardt Foundation gives a yearly scholarship at Clemson University to students looking to go into the field of automotive engineering. the recipients are also offered an internship at DEI.

25. Kannapolis Intimidators

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Earnhardt was part owner of the Piedmont Boll Weevils, who later played as the Piedmont Phillies. After his death, the team changed their name to the Kannapolis Intimidators in his honor, flying a Number 3 flag over every game. A Low-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, they are managed by Pete Rose Jr., the son of the famous  Pete Rose.