Dale Earnhardt: Great Driver and Teacher

JW InskoContributor IFebruary 18, 2009

I remember where I was and what I was doing.  Who I was with and the tears in my eyes as she gave me a hug.  My dad saying it wasn't right and how we knew NASCAR wouldn't be the same. 

This day in 2001, Dale Earnhardt Sr. hit the wall on the last lap that claimed his life.  What can you say, what can you do? NASCAR's favorite driver is gone.

Eight years later, NASCAR is different, not only drivers and teams, but safety.  When you talk about safety, Dale Sr always seems to come up.  The helmet, the harness, and the new car among a few things. 

I remember this day as the day NASCAR changed and became safer.  Remembering two days later on my birthday that a country song became big.

It's a Great Day To Be Alive, and they put it out to all the NASCAR fans.  I've always thought about that song, and what it meant.  To live life to the fullest, not to let any moment go, because you never know.

I found out how much that song meant to me four years later.  Not only did my father pass on Feb. 8, but my first child on Dec. 26 that year.

I found out also that NASCAR drivers and crew members have a big heart.  In the fall race at Charlotte in 2005, a pit crew member for Rusty Wallace (EARL) took a pic with my mom. 

Telling what happened and Rusty was his favorite driver, he said Dad's picture would be taped in the car.  It was signed and mailed back (THANK YOU EARL IF YOU SEE THIS). 

I think we should all thank God that we have who we do.  Dale was a great driver and a person to look up to.  He came from nothing and helped make the sport what it is.

Dale died doing what he loved and with the people he loved. Giving his all every day and wanting more for himself and his family.  He wasn't just what the sport needed, he was what we all needed. 

Someone who lived life to the fullest and gave it his all. Never looked back and always looked forward. 

We should all think about what Dale was to not only NASCAR but to life.  A great father, driver, and a person that not only wanted a great life for himself but for others.