by Al Pearce and Jonathan Ingram
Spectacular, never-before seen photographs pay tribute to the “The Intimidator” and his race-winning 23-year career. This beautifully illustrated photo history traces the illustrious career of the most talented driver in the history of NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing. Al Pearce and Jonathan Ingram, NASCAR writers who chronicled Earnhardt throughout his entire career, put the races of this legendary figure in pole position. Nigel Kinrades stunning color photographs, along with Don Hunter’s notable archival images, pay a fitting homage to this legendary driver. Filled cover-to-cover with never-before-published photographs of Dale at the track, in the pits, and relaxing with his family at home.
This is a book designed to satisfy the most diehard Earnhardt fan, yet will engage those who never knew the man before his fatal last-lap crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001.
The Pink Car
Oliver’s father owned the car and gave the young Earnhardt the same advice he’d given his own son when David had started to race. “You need to just fall in and follow,” said Ray. “That way you can learn how to race. If you don’t do that, then you can learn how to build cars. Because when you wreck cars, you have to fix them.”
Earnhardt initially agreed to this strategy, but just as he had already proven he was stubborn and hard-headed about doing things his own way in dealing with his father, he eventually had ideas different from those of Ray Oliver. Once he got behind the wheel of the pink car and was prepared to race, Earnhardt leaned his head out the window and said to one of the volunteer crewmen, “Could you ask Ray if it would be OK to pass a couple of cars?”
The First Factory Ride
So Rathgeb’s advice would remain critical to Earnhardt as he began a long, torturous journey into the Winston Cup ranks. It was a journey that would cost him a second divorce and many other personal hardships before he got the break he needed four years later. Earnhardt’s ongoing success depended in part upon asking others for their help in the same humbling and direct way he had spoken to Chrysler’s Rathgeb. As anyone who ever did this champion a favor was aware, he never forgot somebody who had helped him along the way. So, 20 years after that fateful meeting, Earnhardt let the world know who gave him his first factory ride.
The Losing Streak Begins
The engine coughed, fired, and Earnhardt rolled away, but he never got beyond the apron in Turn 1. The ether had caused enough detonation to destroy the engine. Instead of finishing fourth and last on the lead lap, Earnhardt stewed while the Wrangler sat on the apron and budding rival Bodine won the Daytona 500, 11 seconds ahead of Labonte. Old rival Elliott pushed Earnhardt’s Monte Carlo back to the pits on the cool-down lap.
Earnhardt, his friends often pointed out, didn’t love winning as much as he hated losing.