our hearts forever
Fans love their drivers to the point of spending their lives staying
connected. They do this by attending races and buying souvenirs. They know
their favorite drivers' personality as well as those of members of their own
family. Dale Earnhardt was revered by his fans. Those who were fortunate enough to live in his community or be associated personally in some way knew
of his prankish sense of humor and his willingness to lend a hand to those in
need. He was a special friend and neighbor.
I have spent the last week since Dale Earnhardt's fatal crash at Daytona
talking with young people in Mooresville, North Carolina. As you all know,
Mooresville is considered "Race City, USA", and as such, has fans who are not
only just fans, but also those connected to the business of racing in many
These young fans, sons and daughters of men and women connected to the racing
business, have been deeply affected by Dale's untimely death. They have seen
their parents mourn not only a great racecar driver, but also, a good friend.
They have driven with their parents to the gate of Dale Earnhardt Enterprises, and have left memorials. They have come to school wearing Dale
Earnhardt tee shirts and jackets. These young fans, and the future of NASCAR,
have had to face death in a tragic way and come to realize that we are all
Acceptance will come, and realization that life, and the healing process of
life, goes on. As Dale, himself, said many times, racing is a dangerous sport. But then, most sports can be considered dangerous. Do racecar fans
feel a stronger connection to their heroes than those of most sports fans? I
don't know. There does seem to be a stronger sense of family. Family pulls
together, leans on each other and makes it possible to go on.
He will never be forgotten. He will always be remembered as a man from a
small Southern town who 'made good'. He will always epitomize the true style
of aggressive racing. He will always be known as one of a kind, "The Intimidator". And yes, as one young fan told me, with tears in his eyes, "we
will just miss him".
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