Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty Grace the Legends Walk at Darlington

Sal Sigala Jr.Senior Analyst IMay 4, 2010

Even in death, his accomplishments haven’t gone unnoticed. They just keep coming year after year for one of NASCAR’s most recognized drivers.

Dale Earnhardt Sr. became an American icon while racing in the Winston Cup Series, and almost singlehandedly made NASCAR what it is today by utilizing his overpowering driving skills.

At the same time, he lifted the sport to a whole new level.

The tenacity Earnhardt exhibited while racing on one of the many battlegrounds he called his home never went unnoticed. Many fans say that Earnhardt was way ahead of his time when he first came into the series.

One by one, Earnhardt meticulously picked his way around the country, defeating track after track.

In the process, he made many friends, as well as enemies.

NASCAR may or may not have been ready to entertain a driver such as Earnhardt, but that didn’t matter because he was here to stay. There was no way he would change his style to suit those who were part of the governing body.

In keeping with the tradition that followed Earnhardt before his untimely death in 2001, Darlington Raceway has chosen to honor its nine–time champion with his own monument. It bears resemblance to a Goodyear tire and an old-style pit board.

On May 3rd, Earnhardt, along with seven-time champion Richard Petty, were welcomed into Darlington’s Legends Walk, just a couple of weeks before they both will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Petty also made his mark in the Winston Cup Series by winning a record 200 races during his legendary 34-year career. That includes three Darlington victories of his own.

Earnhardt and Petty join six others who have already been placed on the walk, which is located behind the Wallace and Tyler grandstands.

“Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt were obvious choices when we looked at who should be added to the Legends Walk,” said Darlington Raceway President, Chris Browning.

Browning also added that, “Petty was one of the pioneers of NASCAR and paved the way for the fan-driver interaction we know today. Earnhardt certainly left his mark on NASCAR, and is still second on the all-time Darlington victory list with nine victories.”

Browning also mentioned that each year the track is planning on adding other monuments, in order to keep up with the track's rich history and tradition.

“The history of Darlington Raceway is so rich, and we are going to do everything we can to preserve it for many generations to come.”

The other six monuments already on display include: track founder Harold Brasington, South Carolina natives David Pearson and Cale Yarborough, Bill Elliott’s 1985 Winston Million victory, NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip, and the closest finish in NASCAR history between Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch.