Thursday marks the 20-year anniversary of Dale Earnhardt's death, which occurred at the 2001 Daytona 500. Earnhardt, who was known as "The Intimidator," tragically died in a last-lap crash at "The Great American Race," which has led to NASCAR re-evaluating everything it does in terms of keeping everyone safe.
Earnhardt was 49 years old when he died and is considered one of the best drivers in NASCAR history. He won the Winston Cup Series a total of seven, times which ties him most all-time with Richard Petty and recently retired Jimmy Johnson. He won the Daytona 500 in 1998, which was one of his 76 Cup Series victories. Earnhardt was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010 as he was part of its inaugural class.
“I thought it was just another crash," Earnhardt's longtime best friend and former NASCAR driver Richard Childress said. " I saw it on TV and it didn’t look that bad – just another tough crash. I hollered at Dale a couple of times [on the radio] and he didn’t answer back... which was a little unusual." Here's a look at fans paying tribute to Earnhardt.
Today we remember the life of NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, who passed away 20 years ago today. pic.twitter.com/o7C6cAC8We— NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 18, 2021
Earnhardt is a big reason why NASCAR became popular in the 1980s and 1990s. When responding to this tweet, one fan wrote, "Rest in Peace Dale Earnhardt Sr! You were a pleasure to watch on the racetrack and one of the best personalities that NASCAR has ever seen."prevnext
20 years ago today, we lost Dale Earnhardt.
Even after his death, he continues to leave a lasting legacy.February 18, 2021
Here's a look at the E60 feature on Earnhardt. One Twitter user wrote, "Man, such an inspiration to all, and helped develop NASCAR's safety and Motorracing in general."prevnext
20 years ago today we lost Dale Earnhardt. A wonderful friend and competitor who I greatly miss. pic.twitter.com/ynvzC3EzH3— Dale Jarrett (@DaleJarrett) February 18, 2021
Dale Jarrett was really good friends with Earnhardt as the two battled on the track multiple times. Jarrett won the Winston Cup Series Championship in 1999 and is a three-time winner of the Daytona 500.prevnext
A moment we'll never forget.
After 20 years of trying, 20 years of frustration, Dale Earnhardt finally won the Daytona 500 in 1998 - and every member of every crew went out on pit road to congratulate him. pic.twitter.com/pNTWW4KeQS— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) February 18, 2021
Here's a look at Earnhardt winning the Dayton 500 in 1998. It took him 20 years to win the big race, but when he did, it was a big celebration. One fan replied, "Wish I could have seen Dale race. I would have been very little if he didn't pass away, but Dale, in my opinion, is the GOAT of NASCAR. Even though Petty had more wins, Dale was just different as a driver. He had an aggressiveness that today's drivers wish they could have had."prevnext
"20 years gone and we miss him. But, in so many ways, he's still right here."February 14, 2021
When Earnhardt died, his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., became a fan favorite. The younger Earnhardt won the Daytona 500 twice (2004, 2014) and was recently elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.prevnext
20 years later, like a lot of people, I find myself missing Dale Earnhardt.— Scott Fowler (@scott_fowler) February 12, 2021
So this week I took a trip to his hometown in Kannapolis, NC, looking for his roots: https://t.co/Hdce0uocUV
Earnhardt grew up in North Carolina, and his father, Ralph Earnhardt, was a popular short-track driver in the area. He made his NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut in 1975 in Charlotte.prevnext
Racing legend Michael Waltrip paid tribute to Earnhardt before this year's Daytona 500. Feb. 18, 2001, was an emotional day for Waltrip as he won the Daytona 500, but his happiness was quickly erased when he learned about Earnhardt.prev