Born to one of the best short-track drivers in the area of North Carolina, Ralph Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt made a much bigger name for himself in the field of NASCAR racing. Reluctant to let his son follow in his footsteps, Ralph had to give in against Dale’s determination to be a racer. Making his NASCAR debut in 1975, in the World 600, Dale managed to finish 22nd in the race. This immensely talented driver, would go on to win the Rookie of the Year honors in 1979 and the very next season win the championship, becoming the first driver to attain this feat.
Dale’s skillful driving, throughout his career, earned him 76 series wins, 22 pole positions, 25,706 laps led and an impressive 428 top-10 finishes. Dale is also the all-time winner at Daytona International Speedway, complete with 29 victories in three different divisions. After nearly 20 year of frustration, Dale finally managed a win at the Daytona 500 in 1998. It was an emotional win for him as well.
With seven championship wins under his belt, for 1980, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994, as well as five Driver of the Year awards from National Motorsports Press Association, for 1980, 1987, 1990, 1994 and 1986, where he was co-winner of the award with Tim Richmond. Dale further went on to win American Driver of the Year two times, in 1987 and 1994.
The long list of considerable achievements only supports the fact that Dale Earnhardt was one of the strongest NASCAR drivers in history, but an unfortunate accident during the 2001 Daytona 500, when Dale’s car was hit by Ken Schrader’s car, led to NASCAR losing one of its most popular legends. Even after his death, Dale contributed to NASCAR, by making them sit up and take notice about the lax safety measures, ensuring that many new safety regulations were put in place.