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Remembering Dale Earnhardt Sr.

dale earnhardt

Dale Earnhardt, Sr. is greatly missed in the world of stock car racing and NASCAR. He was killed instantly during the Daytona 500 on February 18, 2001 after a collision with Ken Schrader and Sterling Marlin on the final lap.

Earnhardt was one of the great racers, as well as a team owner. He began his professional racing career in 1975 in the Winston Cup Series and won more than 76 races. One of his greatest victories was the 1998 Daytona 500.

He captured seven Winston Cup titles in all, tying the legendary Richard Petty. Inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010, Earnhardt earned the nickname “The Intimidator” thanks to his aggressive driving style.

Earnhardt was born into a racing family in North Carolina in April 1951. His father Ralph was a noted short-track driver in his home state and mentored his son before dying of a heart attack at the age of 45 in 1973.

While Ralph did not pursue a professional career, Dale dropped out of high school to chase his driving dreams. Dale later passed his love of racing to Dale, Jr., now a top NASCAR driver.

Although Dale is known for driving the No. 3 car he started his Winston Cup career manning the No. 8 Dodge Charger. He finished 22nd in his first race and wasn’t a regular participant in the Cup series until 1979.

Earnhardt’s career blossomed after joining Rod Osterlund Racing. He won at Bristol in 1979 and finished with 11 top 5s. In 1980, Earnhardt won five races and took home his first Winston Cup championship.

Earnhardt joined Childress Racing in 1984 and finished his career with that team. The rest is history.

Today, Earnhardt is still remembered fondly around NASCAR racetracks. “Earnhardt Tower”, a section of seats at Dayton International was named in his honor following his death. He also has many roads and streets named after him, including one in his hometown of Kannapolis, North Carolina.

When Jimmie Johnson won his 76th career race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2016, tying Earnhardt’s record, the driver held up three fingers out his window to honor Earnhardt.  Johnson’s sign of respect was reminiscent to what fans did during the third lap of every NASCAR race following Earnhardt’s death.

He may be gone, but Dale Earnhardt’s legacy will always live.

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National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing

National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, better known as Nascar sends some adrenaline flowing. A stock car means the one which is available with the dealer for sale. It could also mean a racing car having the same chassis available with a normally available car. In that sense, Nascar car is not really a racing car, but the one which you drive on normal roads. But then the difference is of winning.

This difference of winning has snatched honesty of some of the people in the past. It had to be winning at any cost. Some of the prime examples of such tricks on Nascar circuit have been laid out to make your reading interesting and also to ‘enlighten’ you.

Initial years of early 50’s didn’t really offer much of a chance for tricksters to showcase their talent. However, some engine tuning used to take place. Nothing more than that.

The later ‘golden’ era changed some of this when strictly Stock Car banner was somehow stretched to racing. A smart driver had deployed a trick of reducing the weight of the car. He used to have loads of buckshot and get the car ‘passed’ during an inspection. He would then very innocuously drop it down with a simple mechanism, and no wonder, his car would canter away because of lower weight.

Then there was one, a legend of sorts, called Smokey. He still enjoys a reputation – he had lots of parts in the car which were illegal. He was called to remove those parts, which was duly done. Even the fuel tank was found to be out of ’specs’ sheet. Smokey was asked to remove that too, this too was complied with. Who knows really what & why this happened, he was asked to take his car out, without the tank. Smokey didn’t utter a word, and took the car away!

Smokey is credited with yet another ‘innovation’. While being checked for adherence to specifications, each on the inspection team had a feeling that something was wrong, but nobody could really find out. It was known only when his car was compared to that available in the showroom. It was found that his car was made to be 13% smaller than the commercially available car. This reduction in size would have given tremendous advantage to Smokey – the car would have been much superior aerodynamically, and thereby zip ahead of others.

And now comes daddy of all the tricks as heard from storytellers – one driver actually had a small tank containing nitrous oxide. It was so beautifully camouflaged that no inspector could ever find it. A small pipe was used to inject this oxide in the combustion, and this pipe was disguised as a fuel pipe. Of course, the truth never was and will be found out.

Now the times have changed. Nascar has become stricter than ever it was. Penalties have been heavier than before, and most important – it is now difficult to race ahead of its inspection team, which rather used to be not so difficult.

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