Dale Earnhardt was determined to follow the driving career of his father, 1956 NASCAR Sportsman champion Ralph Earnhardt. The seemingly impossible career path he set in motion is one of the greatest success stories in all of professional sports.
▪ April 29, 1951
▪ Kannapolis, N.C.
▪ Wrangler Jeans
▪ GM Goodwrench
CHAMPION SAVVY THE INTIMIDATOR DETERMINED VICTORIOUS FOCUSED
While racing on some of North Carolina’s most noted short tracks following his father’s death in 1973, Earnhardt struggled mightily to fund his racing operation. He often borrowed money from a local bank on Thursday to race that weekend. Payments had to be made the following Monday without fail. So Earnhardt had to race hard and had to win. Drivers were often left fuming when the checkered flag fell.
Beginning in 1975, four NASCAR Cup Series starts for Ed Negre, Johnny Ray and Walter Ballard helped Earnhardt make an impression at stock car racing’s highest level. His best ride materialized with five events for team owner Rod Osterlund in 1978 and a full schedule of races for the California businessman in 1979, the year he won Rookie of the Year honors with a victory at Bristol, 11 top-five finishes and 17 top-10 results. The next season, Earnhardt stunned the racing community by winning his first of seven Cup Series championships in Osterlund’s Chevrolet. When the team was sold to J.D. Stacy in 1981, Earnhardt exited with 10 races remaining and joined former Cup Series driver Richard Childress.
After parting ways for two seasons, they reunited in 1984 and created one of the greatest dynasties in NASCAR history. Six of Earnhardt’s seven Cup Series titles and 67 of his 76 victories came while driving for Childress, including the 1995 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the 1998 Daytona 500.
Earnhardt lost his life in a crash on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. His contr rt he so dearly loved are considered immeasurable.
THE YEAR (1987) Earnhardt won his third Cup Series championship, the Kannapolis, N.C., native lagged 11 victories, 21 top-five finishes, 24 top-10 results and one pole position for team owner Richard Childress. Earnhardt led 3,354 of 9,043 total laps that season with an average finish of 5.9 during the 29-race schedule.
EARNHARDT IS THE only driver to win the Cup Series Rookie of the Year title and the Cup Series championship in successive years (1979 and 1980). A second championship came in 1986, followed by five more titles in 1987, 1991, 1993 and 1994. Earnhardt finished second in points during his final full season in 2000.
THE NO. 3 CAR
DURING A CAREER that spanned from 1975 to the season-opening Daytona 500 in 2001, Earnhardt was one of the most aggressive drivers in NASCAR history. A member of the inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame Class in 2010, he is recognized as an icon among the sport’s greatest drivers.