Ever since I can remember I've been watching racing with NASCAR always at the forefront having Dale Earnhardt as my favorite driver. I always dreamed of one day racing in the NASCAR ranks, and while I never took my own racing career to that level I always enjoyed watching it. In 2001, NASACR almost lost its appeal for me when my childhood hero, Dale Earnhardt, was taken in a crash on the last lap in the famed Daytona 500 race at the Daytona International Speedway. Fortunately his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., was there to carry the Earnhardt banner and save NASCAR, for this fan at least.
Drama Like No Other
There are a lot of dramatic stories that unfold almost weekly with NASCAR, especially on their highest level, the Sprint Cup Series. However, none can compare with the drama that was created by a son losing his father while racing against him in the same race.
In the 2001 Daytona 500 Dale Earnhardt was running third with one lap to go. His son, Dale Jr., was right in front of him in second and a car that he owned, driven by Michael Waltrip, was in first. What should have been a picture perfect day ended in tragedy when the famous number 3 car made contact with another car and hit the wall, taking the greatest driver in NASCAR history, in my opinion.
Hollywood Couldn't Have Written a Better Script
Though it was hard to watch NASCAR after Dale Earnhardt's passing I still did and rooted hard for Dale Jr. On NASCAR's first race back to the track that took the Intimidator, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in victory lane at the end of the night for his third victory in the Sprint Cup Series. Three years after his death, after starting third in the 2004 Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt Jr. found victory lane once more. While a feat in itself, the fact that the number three was so prevalent was so great that Hollywood couldn't have scripted it better. Thanks to Dale Earnhardt Jr. I have moments such as these to cherish and to look forward to.
Reason to Keep Watching
After it was all said and done, had it not been for Dale Earnhardt Jr. I don't think I could have watched NASCAR the following week or maybe even ever again. Though it was tough not seeing the famed black 3 racing around the track I just had to tune in to see how it all unfolded and lend my fan support to the son of the driver I had admired for so long. This is still what keeps me tuning in each and every race weekend and what gets me out to the tracks several times each season. Now I am officially a member of Junior Nation and thankful to the driver who saved NASCAR for me.
Jimmy Collins has been a loyal fan of NASCAR since he was a child attending races watching Dale Earnhardt run the famous number 3. He still attends numerous races each season and enjoys writing about NASCAR, particularly in regards to Dale Earnhardt as well as Dale Earnhardt Jr.
More from this contributor:
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Dale Earnhardt
- Dale Earnhardt Jr