Even after 10 years since the passing of Dale Earnhardt during the Daytona 500, I still can't find the right words to describe the anguish of knowing that I will never see that glorious No. 3 car on any racetrack ever again.
I grew up watching Earnhardt intimidate his way to victory throughout the '90s and listened to my family tell me glorious stories of his exploits in the years before I was born.
When I saw the crash, I kept telling myself that he would be fine as Earnhardt got through tougher spots before, but my world spiraled out of control once I heard Mike Helton's words:
"Undoubtedly, this is one of the toughest announcements I've personally had to make. But...after the accident in turn four at the end of the Daytona 500, we've lost Dale Earnhardt."
After hearing that, my entire world had collapsed and I felt numb, speechless and shocked knowing one of the best to ever hit the racing asphalt was gone in a split second.
The loss of Earnhardt to me and the rest of NASCAR fans was like how people felt when John Lennon died.
A decade later, all that remains on the racetracks is Earnhardt's legacy. His legacy is embedded in the Car of Tomorrow and the new safety modifications implemented to all cars today.
Since the fateful date of Feb. 18, 2001, not a single driver has died in a wreck.
It is thanks to NASCAR being hellbent on making changes to the safety on all the driver's cars, but I would also like to think that Earnhardt protected his fellow peers while watching from the pearly gates of heaven.
The HANS device was made mandatory as Earnhardt might still be among us if he had the device on. Also, the Cars of Tomorrow are known for their safety innovations, performance and competition, and cost-efficiency for teams.
We all have seen our fair share of frighting wrecks since the cars started being used in 2006, and every wreck has the same ending—the driver survived.
The real legacy Earnhardt left behind is the memories he created while winning the Winston Cup Series seven times and finally winning the Daytona 500 back in '98.
We'll remember him as the Man in Black who was a force to be reckoned with, but off the racetrack he was a modest man who remembered his roots and where he came from.
Personally for me, I don't watch NASCAR as religiously as I used to and I will only watch a race if his son is behind the wheel.
I love the sport, but I don't watch NASCAR anymore as it isn't the same since we lost Earnhardt.
Every time I watch a race, I always envision the Man in Black behind the wheel and that is too much for me to bear, even after a decade with him gone.
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