This Tuesday will be a day of sorrow for NASCAR and sports fans alike.
It was the final lap of the Daytona 500 on February 18th, 2001 – a day every NASCAR driver, friend, and fan will never forget. Coming into Turn 4, Dale Earnhardt was involved in a 3-car crash with Kenny Schrader and Sterling Marlin.
Dale Earnhardt hit the wall head-on after trying to block Schrader on the outside. Michael Waltrip would go on to win that race, with Darrel up in the announcer’s booth cheering for his brother who had finally won a race without wrecking.
But as fans looked on-ward to what would be Dale’s final resting place, yes, the one right before Pit Road entry, they noticed something odd. Dale had not been answering his radio comm checks.
Prayers we’re sent out on live television, as the national broadcast feed was cut early.
Later that evening, a national Special Report Broadcast was made by NASCAR President and Chairman, Mike Helton.
“We’ve lost Dale Earnhardt.” said Helton in the largest sports announcements ever broadcasted.
Dale Earnhardt, Sr. died at the age of 49 due to a basilar skull fracture.
Because of Dale’s fatal crash, new safety standards were initiated within the sport. Immediately after the Daytona 500, NASCAR had required full-face helmets, full-containment seats, and 5-point harnesses with HANS devices.
A 5-part mini-series was released by the SPEED channel, which includes interviews of those involved in the crash that ultimately killed Dale.