I first wrote this article in 2004. It still sits on my website because every thing you read below stills holds true for me and so many others. There will never be another Dale Earnhardt. I still wonder if our sport would be the same one we see today if Dale were still alive. I just don't think it would. The only other thing to add is go see some of these videos at you tube
Some great videos at YouTube:
A Tribute to Ole Iron Head
by Jo Ann Hlavac first posted 02/18/04
On February 18, 2001 on the last turn of the last lap of the Daytona 500 something happened that was unfathomable to all Real Race Fans. We will all remember the simple phrase uttered by a disbelieving Mike Helton to an even more disbelieving public,
"After the accident in turn four ... we've lost Dale Earnhardt."
Before he was Dale Senior, before he was the Intimidator, before he was the Man in Black; he was called Ole Ironhead. You either loved him or hated him; there was simply no in between. Not in the history of NASCAR has there been a driver that has evoked such strong feelings from race fans both positive and negative. But no matter how you felt about the man;
all Real Race Fans cheered when he finally won the Daytona 500, grieved when he died
and still miss that black number three today.
Over the years at the track the Earnhardt fans were as tough as their hero. Let me tell ya'll when he was on that losing streak, there were TOUGH. I thought at some tracks they were going to offer a human sacrifice in the form of some poor Jeff Gordon fan to the racin' gods to smile on the Man in Black once more. Many have not yet return to the track. It is simply too hard for them not to see that black 3. Many returned to the track for the 2003 fall Charlotte race simply because the had to see that Black 3 on the track once more.
Out of all the hundreds of NASCAR races we've seen in person, by far that Daytona 500 win in 1998 is the one I tell people was the most special to witness. When ever single member from ever single race team came on to pit road and lined up to honor him, it gave me goosebumps.
I don't care how special something has been in other sports nothing will ever compare to that moment, to that honor. In the stands, every single fan was on
their feet cheering whether their shirt had Earnhardt, Wallace, Martin or Gordon on it.
At that moment we were honoring a great driver for winning the one race that had eluded him his entire stellar career at a track he had dominated.
Rusty Wallace made an interesting comment during the off season one year.
It was about the direction our sport was going and how he felt that NASCAR
was turning their back on the long time fans.
He said in part "I here to tell you that if Dale were alive today this wouldn't be happening".
We can only wonder WWDD. What would Dale do? Would he speak up for us,
the long time fans? Would he boycott the Labor Day California race like he said
he would if Darlington lost a date? We can only wonder what Dale would do
and feel a little sad that we will never know.
In an interview, a reporter asked Dale about the dangers of auto racing
and the tragic accidents that come with driving a race car.
Dale said "You ask me about tragic accidents? If I am on my tractor at my farm
and it rolls over on me and kills me, that's a tragic accident.
If I die in a race car, that's life. I died doing what I love."
He wouldn't want his fans to grieve for him, he'd want everyone to celebrate his life.
He has gone on to race in a better place.
So Dale on behalf of all Real Race Fans, we thank you for everything you did for us and for the sport. We remember every bump and run with a smile....even those of us who are Texas Terry fans. While we may not have liked what you did, we all leaned a little closer to the TV when he past you. We instinctively knew what was coming.
Today we hope you get to go fishing or hunting with Neil, Davey and your daddy, Ralph.
We also hope you get to do a little racin' up there with all the drivers who have gone on before you. We know that is your idea of heaven.
Below are a few Ironhead quotes, articles and websites I have found that speak about Dale or honor him in a special way. Take the time to go to them and understand more about Ole Ironhead. Because whether you loved him, hated him or are too new of a fan to know, you should simply respect what he did for this sport and for all the fans whose lives he touched.
QUOTES FROM DALE
"I taught you everything you know about racing, but I didn't teach you everything I know"
"If you're not a race driver, stay the hell home. Don't come here and grumble about going too fast. Get the hell out of the race car if you've got feathers on your legs or butt. Put a kerosene rag around your ankles so the ants won't climb up and eat that candy ass."
"In life there are some hurdles you get over and some you don't.
For the ones you don't get over....well you keep trying until you do."
“We work together, we play together, we win together, and we lose together.”
“The pressure is there whether you’re in front or behind”.
"You can't let one bad moment spoil a bunch of good ones."
"Getting up next to a guy and rubbing him, that ain't rough that's racin'"
“God created bumpers and...
Bumpers were made for bumping!”
“Didn't mean to spin him out, I just meant to rattle his cage.”
WEBSITES THAT HONOR DALE
Knowing how much work goes into a website,
I can tell you the site below was written with love.
Barbara Kerr's Mama's Memories. So many great poems are listed on the page below.
My favorite poem on her pages honors many of our other racing heroes also & is:
The Earnhardt tribute
Has pages with photos of other drivers who have left us.
Lots of articles from the days after Dale's death.
Photos, Noted and Quotes and Poems
To contact Jo Ann please click here: RACEMAMA