The running of next Sunday’s NASCAR Cup series Daytona 500 will not only kick off the 2021 season, it will also mark a milestone, not one that many would like to remember.
On February 18, 2001 legendary NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Sr. lost in life on a last lap crash. It was a shock felt not just inside the sport of NASCAR but all over the world.
Few drivers ever had the presence of Earnhardt. A tough as nails racer who let his bumper do the talking. Wednesday the team owner, and friend, Earnhardt won six of his seven Cup titles with, Richard Childress, said he still feels the loss to this day.
“It’s tough,” he said. “We were good friends. We hunted and fished and did a little bit of everything away from the track. He would call me at night at home, even when he was building his race teams and say I know you’re having that glass of wine. Let’s talk a while. And I miss those moments and so many things.
“It’s been tough and not only tough on me and the family and I think on the race fans. I think a lot of them haven’t gotten over it yet. And I haven’t gotten over the loss. I think about. There aren’t many days that go buy when I don’t remember something about Dale. You walk in our museum and you look around and it just brings back so many great moments that we had together. It doesn’t seem like it’s been 20 years when we all lost Dale and wow, what do you say? We all just miss him.”
Today Childress is still a successful team owner, and a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. To this day however, he says even in his business today he asks himself, what would Dale do?
“I think our whole sport, if Dale Earnhardt would still be around today,” he said. “Our sport would have a different face on it. There would be a different look on NASCAR, I think, because he was very influential with the Frances and with racing. And yeah, he had a really good mind when it would come to business. And we just had a great relationship. I could count any disagreement we had on one hand. It was just one of those relationships.
“They said it wouldn’t work when we got together, but we proved everybody wrong. We went out and did our thing.”