As Dale Earnhardt’s black No. 3 grew larger in some unsuspecting leader’s rearview mirror, so did the legend of The Intimidator.
(b. 4-29-51 — d. 2-18-01)
Hometown: Kannapolis, N.C.
Earnhardt’s passionate all-or-nothing driving style -- and modest everyman background -- made him a fast fan favorite. His dominance didn’t hurt, either.
Earnhardt co-holds the record for most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships (seven) with Richard Petty. And his enormous success didn’t take long to flourish.
In only his second full season, 1980, Earnhardt nabbed his first championship. After that, the crowns came in bunches. He won consecutive titles on three separate occasions (1986-87, ’90-91 and ’93-94). Earnhardt’s 76 victories rank seventh all-time.
Earnhardt won on the biggest stages. He is the all-time leader in race victories at Daytona International Speedway with 34, though the most prominent of them was a while in the making.
In 1998, Earnhardt won his most coveted race -- the Daytona 500. The scene was a memorable one, etched in the minds of race fans everywhere, forever. As Earnhardt’s black No. 3 rolled down pit road, a Daytona 500 winner at last, every crew member from every team lined up to congratulate one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history.