Ten Years Later, Shock From Dale’s Death Hasn’t Worn Off

It’s been 10 years to the day since Dale Earnhardt Sr. died following a car accident during the Daytona 500. And even today, I feel the same way as I did two hours after the crash happened.

Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s car crashes into the wall on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Associated Press photo

There’s confusion. There’s disbelief. The accident didn’t look that bad.

I remember EXACTLY where I was when Earnhardt’s car hit that wall on the final turn. At the time, I was a sophomore at Minnesota State Moorhead. I’m not a big NASCAR fan, but I wanted to watch the final few laps of the Sunday race before leaving my parents’ house and making the two-hour commute back to Moorhead.

To be honest – and I know most people say this – but I didn’t think much of the accident. As soon as the race got over, I hopped into the car and headed back to F-M thinking that Michael Waltrip had won and Earnhardt most likely got out of his car and walked back to his pit crew.

It wasn’t until I got back to my apartment that I realized “The Intimidator” had died. I was stunned. Completely stunned.

And I still feel that way to this day. Just didn’t seem like it was that bad.

But I think the fact that I still feel like that shows how far NASCAR has come since Earnhardt’s death when it comes to safety. Deaths in auto racing’s top two or three circuits were far more prevalent prior to his death. It’s just a shame it took something like that for NASCAR to make changes, but that seems to be the way things go in life.

NASCAR seems to be in a place where accidents like Earnhardt’s aren’t as life-threatening as they used to be. It’s just too bad Earnhardt isn’t here to see that.

3 Responses

  1. Jan Baker

    My husband and son and wife were at the race. We saw the crash and then the race ended. We heard about the news of Earnhardt about two hours after the race. They said it would have been a panic among the fans if it would have been announced right after it happened. You should have seen all the flowers and momentos that were placed at the race track. A nascar hero was lost and the fans said their peace. We have not been to a race since but do watch it on TV.

  2. Ramona

    I have a picture of the crash when. His car hit the wall. Dies anyone know how much this would be worth? Just struggling.

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