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Latest News and Commentary

Dale Earnhardt killed at Daytona
February 18, 2001


Dale Earnhardt

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt, 49, was fatally injured Sunday in a multi-car accident on the final lap of the 43rd Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. 

The announcement was made at 7 p.m. ET by NASCAR President Mike Helton.

"NASCAR has lost its greatest driver," said NASCAR Chairman of the Board Bill France, who himself is recovering from life threatening illnesses, "and I personally have lost a great friend." 


Dale Earnhardt (1951 - 2001)

His wife Teresa was at his side at the time of death. Dr. Steve Bohannon, emergency trauma surgeon who was on one of the ambulances that responded, said, "My speculation would be head injuries, basically to the base of the skull." 
Listen to doctor
(2:58 Min. Real Player format)

Earnhardt, who won the 1998 Daytona 500, was unconscious when he was cut from his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet after the accident between Turns 3 and 4 of the 2.5-mile speedway as a tangled pack of cars raced to the checkered flag. He was immediately transported to Halifax, less than one-mile from the speedway. 

"I donít know what to say. This is incredible, just incredible. I think everybody is just in shock right now. 

Personal Profile

Spouse: Teresa 
Kids: Dale Jr, Kerry, Kelly King, Taylor 
Hometown: Kannapolis, NC 
Birthdate: April 29, 1951 
Hobbies: Hunting, Fishing Boating
 

Ford's Dan Davis had this to say - "On behalf of Ford Motor Company, I want to extend our deepest sympathies to Teresa and the entire Earnhardt family on the loss of one of racing's greatest competitors. 

"Like many others, we were fans of Dale Earnhardt -- certainly the driver, but especially the man. In spite of our intense rivalry, Dale Earnhardt has been a great friend to us and to all who have helped to make this sport great. Dale Earnhardt transcended NASCAR. His loss will have an effect on racing and its fans worldwide. 

"I'm not sure you can measure the impact of what he meant to racing in this country because when you picture the epitome of a race car driver, you picture Dale Earnhardt. 

"We're deeply saddened by this loss. Again, our condolences go out to the Earnhardt family and to those legion of supporters who have cheered for this great champion through the years." 


Dale Earnhardt

"I didnít see much of what happened up there (in the fourth turn). After the race was over, I heard things didnít look very good but, man, Earnhardt. You figure heíll bounce right back," said Jeremy Mayfield, driver of the No .12 Penske Ford. Your first thought is, hey, heíll probably come back next week at Rockingham and beat us all. 

"My heart goes out to Theresa and Dale, Jr., Kerry and Kelly, and to Taylor Nicole." 


Dale Earnhardt's famous #3

Earnhardt was pronounced dead while his driver, Michael Waltrip, was being interviewed in the Daytona press box after his first career victory in 463 starts. 

In the accident, Ken Schrader's No. 36 Pontiac was pinned against the outside wall by Earnhardt's out-of-control No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, which came from a lower lane on the 31-degree banked turn. 

"I don't know what happened -- all of a sudden we were all crashing," said Schrader, who was unhurt in the accident. "I guess someone got into Dale because Dale got into me and then we went up. We hit pretty hard and Dale hit harder." 

Schrader tried to visit Earnhardt's car after the accident ended, but quickly left the area. 

Statements

FORT WORTH-DALLAS (February 18, 2001): Statement regarding the death of Dale Earnhardt from Eddie Gossage, General Manager of Texas Motor Speedway: 

"The death of Dale Earnhardt is heartbreaking for millions of racing fans around the world. I, too, am heartbroken. Athletes in other sports would be wise to follow Dale's model of what a champion is supposed to be. He had great dignity - both on the track and off. 

"I know people would question why people risk such great odds to race automobiles. But I'm certain Dale would tell you that he lived his life to the fullest and his life was better for being a participant in the arena. While many people may not understand this, Dale understood better than anyone. 

"We want to express our sympathies to Dale's wife Teresa, his children, his mother and the rest of his family as well as Richard Childress Racing and the people of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. We will remember them in our prayers." 


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Following the tragic death of seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s Sports Marketing Enterprises issued the following statement: 

"All of us at R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company are shocked and deeply saddened by this tragedy. Dale Earnhardt was a fierce competitor and great champion. More importantly, he was a friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with Teresa, Kerry, Kelly, Dale Junior and Taylor Nicole, as well as everyone at Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Richard Childress Racing." 

Andy Schindler, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company 


Please find below a quote from Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell 
concerning the death of Dale Earnhardt.

ďItís hard to put into words what the loss of Dale Earnhardt means. I feel without question he was the greatest driver we have ever had. At a time when the popularity of NASCAR has been rapidly growing across this country, we can thank Dale Earnhardt for a lot of that attention. The fan base he enjoyed is unparalleled in this sport. Our hearts and prayers are with his family," said Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell 

Facts and figures on Dale Earnhardtís career at Martinsville Speedway 

Six Martinsville Speedway wins: 

1980 Old Dominion 500 
1985 Old Dominion 500 
1987 Virginia 500 
1988 Virginia 500 
1991 Virginia 500 
1995 Old Dominion 500 

He finished second six times at Martinsville Speedway, including a second place finish in last fallís Old Dominion 500. He also had two thirds, three fourths and three fifths for a total of 20 top 5 finishes. 

Only Martinsville Speedway pole came in the 1995 Virginia 500 when time trials were rained out and he started first because he was leading the points standings. 

First start at Martinsville Speedway came in the Virginia 500 on April 22, 1979. He started 11th, finished 8th and won $3,350. He went on to win the Winston Cup Rookie of the Year title in 1979. 


"NASCAR has lost its greatest driver ever. And I personally have lost a great friend." Ė Bill France Jr., Chairman, NASCAR.


"All of us at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company are shocked and deeply saddened by this tragedy. Dale Earnhardt was a fierce competitor and great champion. More importantly, he was a friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with Teresa, Kerry, Kelly, Dale Junior and Taylor Nicole, as well as everyone at Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Richard Childress Racing." Ė Andy Schindler, Chairman and CEO, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.


"All of us at Chevrolet and General Motors are truly saddened by the passing of Dale Earnhardt. As we all know, Dale was more than just a legend. He was an individual respected by all who ever came in contact with him Ė family, friends, business associates and fellow competitors. Dale was also more than just a Monte Carlo racecar driver. Like all drivers we considered him a valued member of our own family. To that end, our Chevrolet and General Motors family offers our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Teresa, and the rest of his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and the Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt Incorporated organizations." Ė Kurt Ritter, General Manager, Chevrolet


"The entire NHRA family is saddened by the unfortunate tragedy that took place this afternoon in Daytona. Dale was an ambassador for all of motorsports and will be truly missed. The NHRA extends it thoughts and prayers to the Earnhardt family and the entire NASCAR community." Ė NHRA.


"Itís hard to put into words what the loss of Dale Earnhardt means. I feel without question he was the greatest driver we have ever had. At a time when the popularity of NASCAR has been rapidly growing across this country, we can thank Dale Earnhardt for a lot of that attention. The fan base he enjoyed is unparalleled in this sport. Our hearts and prayers are with his family," Ė Clay Campbell, President, Martinsville Speedway.


"It had been a great day up until the moment we heard what had happened in Daytona." Warren Johnson, five-time NHRA Pro Stock champion after winning at Firebird Sunday.


"On behalf of the entire Gwynn/Steinbrenner Racing family, words cannot describe the sense of loss and sadness we feel after hearing the tragic news of Dale's fatality. Dale was a dear friend who was larger than life. His loss is both personally and professionally irreplaceable. He set the standard that all of us racers tried to live by and emulate. To his wife Teresa and the entire Earnhardt family, we extend our deepest sympathy and heart-felt prayers during this most difficult time." Ė Darrell Gwynn, NHRA team owner, Gwynn/Steinbrenner Racing.


"There is really nothing I can say right now. I found out about Dale after I got home (Cornelius, N.C.) tonight. I'm very sad. NASCAR lost its greatest driver and probably the greatest driver it will ever have. My heart goes out to his family, his crew, his friends and his fans. There is no better group of fans in our sport and I feel for them tonight also. Our sport will go on, but I don't think it will ever be the same. NASCAR is about family, and I can't think of a time in its history when it needs to pull together like a family. I know everyone on our team and our entire sport sends its condolences to everyone hurting." Ė Johnny Benson, driver, No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac.


The following is attributed to Joseph Heitzler, President/CEO of
Championship Auto Racing Teams:

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Dale Earnhardt.  He was a true
champion as well as a wonderful ambassador for our sport.  The thoughts and
prayers of the entire CART community are with the Earnhardt family and
everyone involved in NASCAR racing during this difficult time."

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