Dale Earnhardt remains one of the most popular names in NASCAR history. Part of his popularity remains because of legendary moments he treated racing fans to during his incredible career.
His son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., had also continued the family name in racing. Both were successful during their time racing, but Earnhardt Sr.’s antics and personality made him a popular figure during his time racing.
On this day 35 years ago is a pretty good example of Earnhardt’s behavior on the track. While he was racing at the Richmond Fairground Raceway in Richmond, Virginia for the 1986 Miller High Life 400 race, Earnhardt decided that his windshield needed a good scrubbing.
Instead of waiting for a pit stop, Earnhardt partially crawled out of his car and scrubbed the windshield himself. All the while, he was racing along the track.
Actions like this prove why fans and racers called him “The Intimidator.” It takes some serious courage to do what he did and fellow racers got the message of how bold and brave Earnhardt was.
At the time, Earnhardt was dominating the NASCAR Winston Cup Series during the ’80s and ’90s. He led the middle section of the race but got into a collision with Darrell Waltrip during the last laps of the race. The winner was Kyle Petty. The six-car crash involving Earnhardt had happened right near the end. This forced the race to end under a caution flag.
However, Earnhardt still placed third in the event. He is still tied for the most Cup Series championships.
Dale Earnhardt was known for sending cars into the guardrail if he couldn’t pass them. His racing style was abrasive and tough.
His collision with Waltrip during the race remains infamous. After the race Earnhardt paid a $3,000 fine and $10,000 security bond for the incident. He also suffered from a sore neck and blurred vision.
Dale Earnhardt and Michael Waltrip
Darrel Waltrip is a three-time NASCAR champion and is the older brother of Micheal Waltrip.
According to Motor Authority, Michael Waltrip saw Earnhardt as a mentor and a friend. When he entered the 2001 NASCAR season (the season of Earnhardt’s fatal crash), he had a 462-race losing streak.
In his documentary, “Blink of an Eye,” the defining moments in NASCAR are put on the table through the lens of friendship. He was usually following the shadow of his more successful brother. Despite the differences in success, Earnhardt was a supporter of the younger brother.
“It kept me going, knowing that one of the best ever believed in me,” Waltrip said.
On that fatal day, Waltrip broke his losing streak. However, he also lost one of his dearest friends who had believed in him all along.
“It was a really special time of my life from September 2000 when he called me and said, ‘We’re gonna do this’ all the way up until the last lap of the Daytona 500. It was the best time of my life both personally with my family and professionally with my new ride with Dale. And then from that last lap on for a few months, it was probably the worst period of my life, trying to deal with all that,” Waltrip said, according to Awful Announcing.