Dale Earnhardt (Ralph Dale Earnhardt)

Dale Earnhardt

Dale Earnhardt

Race Car Driver. Born in Kannapolis, North Carolina, to Ralph Lee and Martha Coleman Earnhardt, who was then one of the best short-track drivers in North Carolina. Known to the world as Dale, he would not be persuaded to give up his dream of racing, dropping out of school to race. In May 1975, Dale made his stock car racing debut, finishing 22nd in the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In 1978, Dale’s racing caught the attention of Rod Osterlund, a racing sponsor based in California. After a tryout, he was signed to his first full-time Winston Cup contract as Osterlund’s only sponsored driver in 1979. That year, Dale racked up his first win on the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing Nascar circuit at the Southeastern 500 in Bristol, Tennessee. By the end of the racing season, he had become the first driver to win over $200,000 in his rookie year; he was rewarded with Nascar’s prestigious Rookie of the Year honors. The next year proved to be even bigger for Dale, as he won his first Nascar season points championship, or Winston Cup Championship, barely edging out the veteran driver Cale Yarborough. With the win, he became the first driver ever to win Rookie of the Year and the season championship back-to-back. At age 17, Dale married his first wife, Latane Brown, in 1968. Brown gave birth to his first son, Kerry Earnhardt, in 1969. They were subsequently divorced in 1970. In 1971, Dale married his second wife, Brenda Gee – the daughter of Nascar car builder Robert Gee. With Gee, Dale had two more children: a daughter, Kelley King, in 1972, and a son, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., in 1974. Not long after Dale Jr. was born, Dale Sr. and Brenda divorced. Dale then married his last wife, Teresa Houston in 1982, who gave birth to their daughter, Taylor Nicole in 1988. Dale joined Richard Childress’ Chevrolet team in 1984. His career took off, beginning with five wins and a second Winston Cup Championship in 1986. The next year saw Earnhardt’s best results yet, as he won 11 races and a third championship title, finishing in the top five in 21 out of 29 races. Despite his undeniable success, Dale earned a reputation early on for recklessness. Known as “the Intimidator,” he was particularly prone to aggressively bumping other drivers out of the way in order to take the lead in a particularly close race. After a warning from the president of Nascar in 1987, Dale cleaned up his act and began developing better relationships with other drivers on the circuit. The 1988 season saw Dale racing with a new sponsor, GM Goodwrench, which replaced Wrangler Jeans. During this season Dale garnered a second nickname, “The Man in Black”, owing to the black paint scheme in which the No. 3 car was painted. On February 18, 2001, in the closing laps of the 43rd running of the Daytona 500, Dale ran third behind two of his cars, driven by Waltrip and Dale, Jr. On the last lap, as those cars went on to win 1-2, Dale was killed in a multi-car crash on the 4th turn. In his 22-year career he won 22 poles, 76 races and 7 Championships on Nascar’s premier circuit. The effect that Dale’s death had on motorsports and the media frenzy that followed not only in the United States, but all over the world were both massive. Auto racing had not experienced a death of this magnitude since that of Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna in 1994. Senna was regarded as highly in Formula One as Dale was in Nascar; Dale won the Nascar Talladega race in 1994 on the day that Senna was killed, and in victory lane he expressed his sorrow for the Senna family. Nascar implemented rigorous safety improvements, such as making the HANS device mandatory. Dale died instantly of blunt force trauma to the head. He was 49 years old.

More Images

  • topper-dalex-topper-medium -

  • ce98ac8bc3fae061fa2528de4014aae0 -


  • April, 29, 1951
  • Kannapolis, North Carolina


  • February, 18, 2001
  • Daytona Beach, Florida

Cause of Death

  • Basilar skull fracture from crash in Turn 4 on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500


  • Earnhardt Estate
  • Mooresville, North Carolina

20773 profile views