Ten years ago today was one of the worst days in my life. On February 18, 2001 my hero, Dale Earnhardt died. Your hero? a race car driver? you may wonder. Yes but he was so much more.
He was a kind man, a strong man, a tall man, a handsome man, he was a good man. He gave generously to charity, not only monetarily, but of himself as well, and most of the time we never heard about it because that's how he wanted it, that's just the kind of person he was. He never forgot from where he came and his heart was made of gold. He lended a helping hand to so many.
The Intimidator was his persona and yes, he was just that on the race track. Oh what fun he was to watch on the race track! He was The Man! But off the track he was a respected and beloved father, husband, son, and brother.
The sport will never be the same for me but I do still enjoy NASCAR and watch all of the races. I haven't attended a Cup race though since before he died. I've attended a few Nationwide (the secondary series) races but no Cup because that is where he raced and I guess I just haven't wanted to attend the race and not see that black number 3.
I'll never forget the first time he caught my attention when I was really getting into NASCAR back in the 80's. He was holding his little daughter in his arms before a race and she kissed him on the cheek and hugged his neck...the television announcer commented on the sweet picture saying, to that little girl he's no Intimidator, he's just Daddy. That just melted my heart right then and there and at that moment is when I became a fan...I will always be a Dale Earnhardt fan.