On This Day in Auto History – February 15
Dale Earnhardt was born on April 29, 1951. The son of a racecar driver, Earnhardt dropped out of school to follow in his father’s footsteps. Beginning his career in 1975, he went on to become one of the most successful and respected drivers in NASCAR. Earnhardt earned the nickname “The Intimidator” for his aggressive driving and had 76 career victories. However, it took him over twenty years to win his first Daytona 500.
On February 15, 1998, Dale Earnhardt was racing his black #3 Chevrolet when he got his first and only win in the Daytona 500. He had an average speed of 172.712 MPH and won over one million dollars in prize money. Earnhardt could be seen doing celebratory donuts in the field afterwards.
Sadly, three years later on February 18, 2001, Earnhardt was involved in a fatal crash at the Daytona 500 that went on to make world wide headlines. That race was actually won by his fellow teammate, Michael Waltrip. Earnhardt’s son, Dale Jr., won second place. Ironically, Dale Jr won his first Daytona 500 on February 15, 2005, exactly seven years after his father. Dale Earnhardt was indicted into several Halls of Fame before and after his death. Fans honored Earnhardt by holding three fingers in the air on the third lap of every NASCAR cup race.
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