We all know about Dale Earnhardt Sr., The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Larger than life, 10 feet tall, bulletproof ... except when he wasn't.
Thanks to a video that was recently
declassified posted at racingwin.com, we now know that Senior actually did have a softer side, at least when it came to his love of racing.
At the Brickyard 400 in 1996, Dale was forced to relinquish his seat to Mike Skinner at the first caution due to injuries sustained in the previous week's accident at Talladega, where he sustained a broken sternum, collarbone, and shoulder blade. Ouch.
First, the Talladega crash, for those with the stomach to watch it:
That wreck actually looked much more horrific than the one that ultimately took his life. (It also caused NASCAR to mandate the "Earnhardt Bar", a metal brace in the middle of the windshield to reinforce the roof in the case of a similar crash.) The race had been rain-delayed and wasn't televised, so most people didn't know about it until they watched the sports news that evening.
Some thought the injuries would cut short his year, but after allowing Mike Skinner to sub for the remainder of the Indianapolis race, Dale qualified on the pole the next week and led most of the race, coming in a respectable sixth at the finish.
Watching someone else climb into his car clearly hurt Dale far more than any physical injury could ever do. The intrepid Dr. Jerry Punch apparently drew the short straw, and gingerly approached Dale for comment.
Classic. That is the way I wish more guys would handle things today (cough*Kyle Bush*cough), more of a "talk to the hand" than a tantrum. Bravo, sir. Bravo.