A year after all the Sturm und Drang that Dale Earnhardt"s fatality at Daytona, life (and NASCAR) go on pretty lot as usual.

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Dale Earnhardt is buried ago in the woods behind his farm in phibìc Carolina. No, you can"t visit the gravesite. In NASCAR, that is referred to as a "lost marketing opportunity." yet Dale"s third and final wife, Teresa, desires it the way.

Nonetheless, discreet inquiries were made - all denied now, of course - about placing Dale"s continues to be in a an ext accessible location. Can you imagine what a wailing wall surface Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet, Inc., would end up being if Dale might be interred outside the new-car showroom he own in Newton, north Carolina? It can have been NASCAR"s Graceland.

Rumors even said that the construction work walk on behind blue tarps beside Daytona USA, the financially rewarding little museum that sorts that celebrates all things NASCAR and also is situated just outside Daytona"s towering revolve Four, the place where Earnhardt crashed and also died at critical year"s Daytona 500, was in preparation for moving his body there. No true. NASCAR and Daytona international Speedway were required to admit, weeks ahead of schedule, the a $60,000 bronze statue of Earnhardt will certainly be situated there, rather of his actual body.

Interesting, since for the past year, the just acknowledgment in ~ Daytona USA that Earnhardt is, together one overwrought reporter said, "on God"s gyeongju team now," is a two-page reprint that a USA now story about his death.

Otherwise, whatever you check out inside Daytona USA, and also even in the 30-minute guided tram tour about the speedway - the package deal is $20 a head - would lead however, and space aliens to suspect he were still alive, still staring in ~ the camera through those gunfighter-blue eyes, still winning races.

He isn"t, that course. Because that NASCAR fans, time is measure up in B.C. And also A.D.: before Crash and also After Dale.

This past year was one of the worst ever for NASCAR. Yet the plucky sanctioning human body in general, and Daytona in particular, have faced tough time before, and also through a mix of guts, luck, and also money, have emerged stronger every time.

So let"s take it our very own tour, beginning from the beginning.

B.C.

December 1947: In the Ebony Lounge, a bar atop the pink and green rationalization Hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida, william "Big Bill" France Sr., a at some time racer that runs a neighborhood gas station, gathers through some buddies and starts the nationwide Association because that Stock car Auto Racing. NASCAR"s huge race will be on a big oval created by the really sand beach on one side, and also on the other, Atlantic Avenue, a led two-lane road. Cars will race up the beach, turn, race down the street, turn, race ago up the beach. "We were charging human being to stand on somebody else"s land," bill France Jr. Would certainly recall years later. "It would be type of challenging to carry out that today."

February 15, 1948: Red Byron wins the first NASCAR race held on the hard sand and also public street. Local gas-station owner Marshall Teague is second.

February 11, 1951: Marshall Teague wins his very first race at Daytona and repeats in "52, although that gyeongju is shortened as soon as the tide comes in. NASCAR"s season starts with 10 gyeongju a year and quickly grow to an ext than 40.

February 23, 1958: Paul Goldsmith, that will walk on to race in Formula 1 and own a burgess King, wins the last beach race. Meanwhile, large Bill France has been structure a track two miles west of the beach. He"s calling it Daytona international Speedway. It"s just too tough to sell tickets ~ above a coast that has actually no gates. When he revealed his plans a couple of years earlier, plenty of were skeptical. Far off, in Indianapolis, the newspaper there calls that the pipeline Dream Speedway. Wrong. It will open in a year.

February 8, 1959: In ready for a USAC Indy car race, a prelude to the inaugural Daytona 500 stock-car race - the very first and only time Indy-type cars would certainly race at Daytona - Marshall Teague make the efforts to set a closed-course rate record, hope to optimal 177 mph set by Tony Bettenhausen Sr. In ~ Monza in Italy. Teague goes 171.8 mph in a shakedown run.


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February 11, 1959: A couple of days later, Teague goes because that it. His auto flips 5 times, and also he is ejected, still strapped right into the chair of his USAC car. Teague is the first driver eliminated at large Bill"s paved superspeedway. The USAC race ultimately runs in April, and George Amick it s okay the pole by turning 176.9 mph, just shy of Bettenhausen"s record. During the race, Amick"s car flips and also skids upside-down. George Amick becomes the 2nd driver killed at the big track - the 2nd of what today is a toy fee of 34 dead, counting the four killed there in 2001. There was Earnhardt, then 2 motorcycle racers, then last December, a 17-year-old go-kart racer. The last 3 you likely never heard about.

February 22, 1959: Johnny Beauchamp wins the first-ever Daytona 500 stock-car race and also celebrates in success lane. Numerous fans ask, "Johnny who?"

February 25, 1959: 3 days later, after ~ "reviewing newsreel footage," huge Bill decides Lee small is the winner. Beauchamp has run only five NASCAR races, and also Petty has run several hundred. To say the least, it"s a well-known decision among fans, who didn"t know who Beauchamp was, since he was from "up north" (Iowa actually). Richard Petty, Lee"s son, finishes 57th that the 59 starters.

1959-63: NASCAR benefit strength, build stars. 2 at the top are "Little Joe" Weatherly and also Glenn "Fireball" Roberts. NASCAR is top top a roll. But 1964 would be a pivotal year, and also a tragic one, too.

January 19, 1964: the starts once Joe Weatherly is killed after his vehicle hits the wall surface at the season opener in Riverside, California. Then Fireball Roberts is killed that July, lingering for 5 excruciating weeks after the is severely burned in a crash at the civilization 600 in Charlotte, phibìc Carolina. In October, Jimmy Pardue, a renowned young driver who had actually finished 2nd in the Daytona 500 the year, is killed during a tires test at Charlotte. And during a preseason tire test in January 1965, up-and-comer Billy walking is eliminated at Daytona.

Even back then, the is clean what the problem is: The cars space going too rapid for the tires. Paul Goldsmith, who had won the last Daytona beach race, captures the pole in ~ the "64 Daytona 500 after going 174.910 mph. (And 27 years later, invoice Elliott"s pole speed for the 2001 Daytona 500 is much less than 9 mph much faster than Goldsmith"s.)

Drivers threaten come quit. The gyeongju engines that Ford and Chrysler have actually been running are banned. Ford carps however agrees come the ban. Chrysler boycotts fifty percent the 1965 season but eventually returns. NASCAR and also Bill France have challenged their biggest situation - death and also politics - and also survived.

August 14, 1969: Eleven motorists meet in a hotel room in Ann Arbor, Michigan, simply days before a NASCAR gyeongju at adjacent Michigan worldwide Speedway. Led by Richard Petty, the winningest NASCAR driver ever, the structure is laid for the Professional motorists Association, a goddamned union! A majority of the top drivers sign up. Their complaints space generic, v one exception: big Bill had decided to develop a track qualified of speeds even faster 보다 Daytona"s, and that was worrisome. Talladega is to it is in 2.66 miles lengthy (to Daytona"s 2.5 miles) and the banking much steeper. Talladega, the motorists rightly determine, could be a 200-mph track, and that is just too damn fast.

September 14, 1969: True to your word, 37 members the the drivers" union, consisting of Richard Petty, boycott the first race in ~ Talladega. Charlie Glotzbach is the fastest qualifier at 199.466 mph. However that is too fast also for Glotzbach; ~ his instincts because that self-preservation awaken, the walks. Huge Bill, incensed in ~ the totality idea of a union, won"t bend. ~ all, he had challenged down a union initiative in 1961 led through Curtis Turner, who he then banned "for life." therefore France assembles 36 cars, v 23 of them "Grand Touring" cars indigenous a lesser division - dare such together AMC Javelins and Ford Mustangs. Still, there are some name chauffeurs - small Lund, Bobby Isaac, Buck Baker, and also Richard childress driving a Chevrolet Camaro. Childress would certainly go on to greater fame as Dale Earnhardt"s automobile owner. Richard Brickhouse, seldom heard from prior to or ~ this race, wins. The race is a success in that no one it s okay killed, and also that is about all. However it is enough to break the drivers" union. France and NASCAR look invincible. Every that has happened since has just strengthened the notion.


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August 1974: in ~ the boots Hill Saloon in Daytona Beach, NASCAR executive Bob Latford, on a damp bar napkin, creates the current NASCAR points system.

February 18, 1979: In 1960, CBS televises a couple of stock-car races, and in 1961, alphabet tests the waters. However it isn"t till 1979 the a network is willing to gamble that an audience will stick approximately for a four-hour live broadcast. As it turns out, the Daytona 500 is an interesting race, yet the complete - a common NASCAR hit of luck - renders it legendary. Battling for the lead, Cale Yarborough and also Donnie Allison, ~ above the critical lap, run right into each other repeatedly, then both cars spin into the infield. Donnie"s brother, Bobby, pulls in right behind them. Meanwhile, Richard Petty, that figured to perform no much better than third, wins the race, his first victory since 1977. Meanwhile, back on the infield, Yarborough is slugging that out through both Allison brothers, in the mud, live ~ above TV. CBS wins one Emmy because that it. The Allisons and Yarborough space told by NASCAR - wink, wink - that they probably shouldn"t repeat the performance. It"s the legitimate begin of the modern era of NASCAR: In the field that day are Dale Earnhardt, Ricky Rudd, Dave Marcis, Geoff Bodine, and Terry Labonte, every one of whom would thrive in the NASCAR live-TV garden over the following 20 years.

April 1, 1979: Dale Earnhardt wins his an initial NASCAR race, the Southeastern 500 at Bristol, Tennessee, in simply his 16th Winston Cup start.

November 16, 1986: in ~ the season finale in Riverside, California, NASCAR"s two brightest future stars shine: Tim Richmond wins the race, and Dale Earnhardt take away the championship, his second.

January 8, 1987: Richmond, the handsome, flamboyant driver, announces that since of double pneumonia he can miss several of the 1987 season. The returns because that eight races, win two, but clearly has a health and wellness problem. The most upbeat story that 1987 is the success of Davey Allison, child of Bobby, who, together a rookie, wins two races and also appears poised for stardom.

August 7, 1989: Tim Richmond dies of AIDS, one of the an initial high-profile characters to succumb come the disease. NASCAR has small to say.

June 7, 1992: big Bill France dies at 82. He has long due to the fact that turned end the reins of NASCAR come his boy Bill Jr.

November 15, 1992: The season ends with the Hooters 500 at Atlanta, suitable since the driver that the Hooters-sponsored car, Alan Kulwicki - a savvy, underfunded driver and also team owner - wins the championship end a stable Davey Allison. The race marks a beginning and also an end: that is Richard Petty"s last, and also he retires understanding that nobody will likely ever match his 200 victories. And it"s the an initial Winston Cup race for a 20-year-old driver, Jeff Gordon, and also his crew chief, ray Evernham.

April 1, 1993: Winston Cup champion Alan Kulwicki is eliminated in a plane crash.

July 13, 1993: Davey Allison is trying to land his new helicopter in ~ Talladega as soon as it spins out of control. That is visiting a household friend, racer Neil Bonnett, whose child is trial and error a auto at Talladega. Bonnett helps traction Allison indigenous the helicopter, however it is as well late. Davey is eliminated less than a year after his younger brother, Clifford, is eliminated in a Busch Grand national crash in Michigan.

February 11, 1994: Neil Bonnett is eliminated practicing for the Daytona 500.

February 14, 1994: Rodney Orr, an competent racer yet a Winston Cup rookie, is eliminated practicing for the Daytona 500. Bonnett and Orr come to be the 26th and also 27th fatalities there.

February 15, 1998: Dale Earnhardt, who has actually won an ext races than anyone at Daytona, lastly wins the huge one after twenty years of trying. All is best with the NASCAR world.

April 2, 2000: Dale Earnhardt Jr., 25, in just his 12th Winston Cup start, wins the Primestar 500 in ~ Texas motor Speedway in ft Worth. That is additionally the first Winston Cup start for Adam Petty, kid of Kyle and also grandson of King Richard, who is the son of Lee, do Adam the an initial fourth-generation NASCAR Winston Cup driver. Both households are jubilant. It is feasible no one called Earnhardt or small will ever be fairly that happy again.


May 12, 2000: Adam Petty, 19, is killed during Busch series practice at new Hampshire worldwide Speedway.

July 7, 2000: NASCAR Winston Cup driver Kenny Irwin is eliminated at new Hampshire global Speedway practicing for the Jiffy Lube 300.

October 14, 2000: NASCAR Craftsman Truck collection driver Tony Roper, a second-generation journeyman, is killed during a gyeongju at Texas motor Speedway. Petty, Irwin, and Roper every hit the wall hard and die the "basilar skull fractures."

November 2000: NASCAR Winston Cup end its longtime attend to CBS, the network that first brought NASCAR to the TV dance. It also kisses off ESPN, the network that has specialized endless coverage to the sport, and TNN and ABC, and also instead signs a $2.6 billion attend to Fox and also NBC. ESPN2"s RPM Tonight, a seven-day-a-week motorsports show that had actually been single-mindedly specialized to NASCAR, is banned from to run any brand-new 2001 race footage or native taping any type of interviews ~ above racetrack property, leave the program to run still photos of races and interviews tape-recorded with chauffeurs as they space boarding their private jets.

February 18, 2001: after ~ 499 miles, the best Daytona 500 in recent memory goes every to hell when Dale Earnhardt, running third behind his son and also perpetual hard-luck driver Michael Waltrip - both of lock driving cars own by Dale Sr. - drops low in the last turn to block Sterling Marlin. They touch, and Earnhardt"s vehicle heads up toward the bull-ring wall, is hit by Ken Schrader"s car, then spins to the apron. Earnhardt is dead automatically from a basilar skull fracture. Ken Schrader is the very first one come the car, look at the blood, and waves frantically because that help. Waltrip wins the race, his first in 462 tries, however his celebration is much less than 10 minute long. Dale Jr. Is second. Finish of tour.

A.D.

The country"s many popular type of auto racing had just shed its best star.

When had actually something prefer that happened in America - the top personality in a sport, take away so close to the optimal of his game? It would be like Tiger Woods getting whacked by lightning top top the golf course, Barry bonds struck dead by a beanball. It simply doesn"t happen.

NASCAR faced its biggest public-relations challenge and made points worse at every opportunity with terse and also even enemy "no comments," at some point issuing an main report on Earnhardt"s fatality which took much more than 300 pages to recognize that NASCAR is not particular why Earnhardt"s middle hit was fatal - probably it was the broken seatbelt, possibly it wasn"t. It has failed completely to deal with the deaths that Petty, Irwin, and also Roper and also has offered tiny in the means of solid suggestions to protect against such indigenous happening again.

But, together before, NASCAR weathered the storm as it constantly has - through guts, luck, and also money.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., an admitted party kid, grew up fast. His stepmom, Teresa, recognized to fans as a quite accessory for her husband in success lane, stepped up to handle breakable affairs v class and also has displayed a startlingly savvy composure in dealing with what stays a multimillion-dollar service - Dale Earnhardt, Inc.

When Junior went back to Daytona because that the July race, the Pepsi 400, that won, and teammate Waltrip finished second. Words "tearful" or "storybook" concerns mind, specifically if you room NBC, because that was the first NASCAR race it televised, and it to be the highest-rated prime-time NASCAR telecast ever.

Then, in the very first Winston Cup race after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Junior won again and also waved a huge American flag the end the window during his success lap. In the last race, at Talladega in October, where his father had actually won the year before, Junior came from 13th to very first in 18 laps, unheard the by everyone not called Earnhardt, however by then conspiracy theorists had had enough and also cried, "Fix!"

Even other driver Jimmy Spencer stated after the race, "Anybody that didn"t see this one coming . . ." Which uncomfortable Junior, his fans, and also especially NASCAR, top Spencer to apologize a couple of days later. "It to be dumb on mine part," claimed a contrite if not an especially eloquent Spencer.


NBC, i m sorry televised the second fifty percent of the season - as soon as interest logically would certainly be diminished after five Dale-free month - said ratings were 34 percent greater than they to be in 2000. However not earnings. In November, it to be revealed that Fox, NBC, and also Turner Sports, NBC"s partner, had together lost around $100 million ~ above NASCAR throughout this an initial year of the six-year deal, even though all at once ratings to be up about 25 percent for the year. The networks had spent a bundle and couldn"t recover it in a declining market for advertising.

Tough luck because that the networks, but NASCAR did simply fine. Critical January 17, worldwide Speedway coporation, group (ISC), which own Daytona worldwide Speedway and nine various other tracks, announced 2001 results - a 58-percent gain in profits over 2000 and a 20-percent gain in revenue, native $440.4 million come $528.5 million. The ISC essentially controls NASCAR.

Still, though, NASCAR beginning 2002 conscious that four of its motorists have to be killed since May 2000, and it deals with questions about what is being done. Answer: It has opened a safety research study facility in phibìc Carolina, upgraded that is level of medical personnel in attendance at races, compelled all vehicle drivers to wear head and also neck restraints, installed crash data recorders in every cars, and made incremental suggestions, recommendations, and mandates to add safety.

But NASCAR hasn"t handle two central problems - problems that may well result in the deaths of more drivers.

As Detroit strives to make cars much more "crushable," recognizing that the an ext a car folds up, the less affect smashes right into the driver - miscellaneous long well-known by CART, the IRL, and Formula 1 racing - Winston Cup cars continue to be as solid as tanks. NASCAR is moving very slowly in an altering that, refusing - by appearances, at least - to take it seriously innovations such as composite energy-absorbing front bumpers.

So, problem No. 1: The dare don"t fold up therefore good.

Problem No. 2: castle can"t logically be built to fold up, as long as the Winston Cup clues system, devised on the bar napkin in 1974, continues. In the majority of various other big-league racing, such together CART and Formula 1, the doesn"t make any kind of difference in point out if you end up 18th or 28th in a race. Complete out of the height slots, and also it simply doesn"t matter, since of the method the points are awarded. So teams space not bonus for building cars so strong that also after a crash they deserve to be duct-taped together to get back out top top the track and also earn, together the TV announcers say, "those beneficial Winston Cup points."

Remember that 1992 season, once Alan Kulwicki won the championship? He to be behind going right into the critical race and ended increase winning the championship by 10 points. The difference in between finishing 43rd and 42nd is 3 points - there"s a three-point bump every spot every the way up to the optimal 12. For this reason after more than 10 month of racing, the 1992 season championship was much less than the difference between finishing 39th or 43rd in one race.

Of course groups don"t want cars that fold increase in a crash. They have to have the ability to fix the auto if in ~ all feasible and gain it earlier on the track. And collect those valuable Winston Cup points.

"We journey an awfully solid car," says Tony Stewart, that finished 2nd in points come Jeff Gordon in 2001. "The rule behind that is the the more bars they placed in it, the much safer we"ll be, yet the automobile has to it is in collapsible, too. It has actually to have the ability to absorb energy.

"We finally got so an excellent at make cars solid from the external in the we"re hurting from the within out. Us just have actually to discover that typical balance." Stewart states that learning the cars would certainly crush an ext readily on affect would make motorists less likely to "bang on every other."

The next relocate is NASCAR"s. Hell, every move is NASCAR"s, isn"t it?

We"ve conserved the critical word for Earnhardt. Here"s what the Intimidator had actually to say in ~ Daytona in June 2000 about safety ~ above the large speedways:

"I"ve heard some chauffeurs saying, "We"re going too quick at Charlotte, we"re going too quick here . . ." get the hell home. If you"re not a race-car driver and also not a racer, remain home. Don"t come here and also grumble about going also fast. Acquire out of the race vehicle if you"ve acquired feathers on your legs or butt. Tie a kerosene rag roughly your ankles therefore the ants won"t rise up there and eat your candy ass."


Magic Moments

The city fathers in Earnhardt"s hometown, Kannapolis, phibìc Carolina, a town of 36,910 souls, poll to construct a $700,000 memorial frostbite to their favorite son. In ~ the finish of January 2002, they"d collected $19,111, leaving just $680,889 come go.

See more: Why Would A Guy Send Me A Picture Of Himself, Is He Interested In Me

After Earnhardt"s death, Billi Jo and also Barry Baker of Heavenly design in phibìc Carolina placed out selection of memorabilia, centered about a window sticker showing the number 3 adorned by point of view wings and also a halo. Richard Childress, owner the the Earnhardt team, sued, and also a referee ordered the Bakers come pay athletic $500,000 and also scolded those who would "profit indigenous the disastrous circumstances." critical October, Childress, Chevrolet, and also the widow Earnhardt announced that Chevy will develop 3333 "Dale Earnhardt Signature execution Monte Carlos," for about $30,000 apiece.

A major eye-opener: penis Berggren"s Speedway Illustrated provided that back Earnhardt"s vehicle may have actually been going, as a NASCAR report concluded, in between 157 and also 160 mph as soon as it fight the wall, it did no come anything close come a complete stop-it ongoing skidding. "The vehicle actually hit the wall surface at a closing rate of in between 50 and also 60 mph, not 157 come 160 mph. Offered the importance of influence speed, the report"s taking care of of this problem hardly inspires confidence," Berggren wrote. -SC


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