As the Daytona 500 gets ready to roll this weekend, there'll be plenty of time for tributes to Dale Earnhardt, the legend who died 10 years ago Friday. In the spirit of remembering the man's life rather than his death, we present 10 of the finest moments of his career. Check these out, not just for Earnhardt himself but for the way racing used to be. Enjoy.
10. 2000 Cracker Barrel 500: Earnhardt outdueled Bobby Labonte in Atlanta for one of the final wins of his career. The video below shows Earnhardt a wee bit ticked with teammate Mike Skinner for some in-race performance; note, also, the insane racing back to the starting line while under yellow:
9. 1984 Talladega 500: This Talladega race marked Earnhardt's first win in the car that would become his signature: the No. 3:
8. 2000 DirecTV 500: In just his 12th Cup-level start, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered flag in Texas, and his father was every bit as excited as he was, as you can see in the postrace interview:
7. 1979 Rookie of the Year: The Daytona 500 in 1979 is best known for kicking the sport into the national consciousness, but it's also the first Cup race where Earnhardt led laps. Listen at about the 3:08 mark when the announcers remark that this young Earnhardt kid is "not intimidated." Foreshadowing much?
6. 1996 DieHard 500: This Talladega race showed just how tough Earnhardt was. In a wreck that looked far worse than the one that later claimed his life, he broke his collarbone, yet actually tried to run a week later at the Brickyard.
5. 1987 The Winston All-Star: The infamous "pass in the grass," where Bill Elliott sent Earnhardt into the grass. But the Intimidator not only held onto his car, he held onto the lead. Thus, it's not technically a pass, but with driving like this, who's going to complain?
4. 1995 Brickyard 400: At just the second NASCAR race at one of motorsports' most hallowed tracks, Earnhardt takes the win to add to his legacy:
3. 1999 Goody's Headache Powder 500: Earnhardt lived up to his Intimidator nickname at Bristol as he spun Terry Labonte for the win, and later gave one of the finest postrace quotes in NASCAR history: "I didn't mean to wreck him, I just wanted to rattle his cage."
2. 2000 Talladega: Earnhardt's final win at the Cup level was one of his finest, a masterful through-the-field performance at Talladega:
1. 1998 Daytona 500: One of the best moments in motorsports history came when Earnhardt finally won the Daytona 500. He was saluted by members of every crew as he drove down pit road, an honor richly deserved.
A singular career, cut too short. Feel free to add your own Earnhardt memories below.
- Dale Earnhardt