It’s very rare for the Sprint Cup Series to head to a racetrack and not think about Dale Earnhardt, even nine years after abruptly losing him.
The Intimidator's death is still as fresh as if it happened yesterday, and NASCAR fans will never forget the man they either cheered wildly or booed madly.
He’s gone but certainly not forgotten, and ESPN is doing their part to make sure of that.
On March 30, at newsstands around the nation, there will be the release of a commemorative magazine titled Dale Earnhardt: The Legend Lives. The 100-page magazine is in honor of Earnhardt being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame later this year.
It features stories from the days when Earnhardt was just trying to make a name for himself, working with his father Ralph, to what NASCAR has become and done since his death in the 2001 Daytona 500.
Along the way, fans will hear about the seven-time champion from both himself and those that spent the most time with and saw a different side of him. In one article, his son Dale Earnhardt Jr. shares a memory of his father shooting his remote-controlled car simply because it was painted like that of fellow driver Geoff Bodine.
At the time Earnhardt and Bodine were in the midst of a bitter rivalry, and when a young Dale Jr. steered the car in his father’s direction, Earnhardt Sr. took the pistol he was holding and started firing.
Says Tony Eury Sr., who is Earnhardt Sr.’s brother-in-law, “Dale turned around, and the car came right by us, and we all hollered, laughing, ‘Look there! There goes Geoff Bodine!’ And Dale started shooting at that RC car! He never did hit it, but he was shooting like hell at it. Dale Jr. had that car wide open, trying to get it out of range. It was the funniest damn thing you’ve ever seen. We laughed about that one for a long, long time.”
It’s one of the many stories that grace the pages, providing a better look into not only "The Man in Black" that raced each Sunday, but also the husband and father away from the camera. From team members and friends, including Danny “Chocolate” Myers, who was part of the “Junkyard Dogs” of Earnhardt’s pit crew, they all have something to say about Earnhardt that many have not heard before.
Since that ill-fated day in Daytona, much has been written and said about Earnhardt’s wife Teresa and son Dale Jr., who have continued to be in the spotlight. Winning the Daytona 500 in 2004 with Dale Jr. and earlier this year with Jamie McMurray, Teresa teamed with Chip Ganassi to keep his company going. It has remained a strong contender each weekend and has never let his dream and hard work fade away.
However, it's not fair to only remember those two who lost a father and a husband, but also that Martha Earnhardt lost her son.
In the magazine Martha shared her own story with ESPN writer Ryan McGee about the legacy her son left behind and says, “If I see them [fans], I’ll wave as they go by. I hope they look at our house and our town and think about what Dale accomplished after starting out where he did. Maybe it will help them to keep on being inspired by my son and his story for the rest of their lives.”
Martha still lives in Earnhardt’s childhood home that many still come to observe. It’s part of the Dale Trail in Kannapolis, N.C. She’ll never get tired of talking about her son, and neither will his closest competitors. From Buddy Baker to Ernie Irvan and Ray Evernham, their feelings about Earnhardt are laid out for all to see.
But it’s not enough to just listen to stories—see and feel them with full-page photography. Cars, races, and close and personal shots, even those from home, will bring the memories rushing back. Whether you were a fan of his or not, this magazine is a collector's item, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to get it.
For only 10 dollars, head out next week and pick up a copy and help keep the man that loved NASCAR so much close to heart. After all, someone like Earnhardt wouldn’t like to be left out or forgotten: “It doesn’t matter what kind of noise they’re making about you, just as long as they’re making noise.”