Earnhardt's triumph in February 1998 was his only Daytona victory. Earnhardt died at the age of 49 in an accident during the 43rd Daytona 500 on February 18, 2001. He was rushed to a hospital after being cut from his automobile and was confirmed dead of head injuries. His death left his family business-the NASCAR team owned by him-in ruins and forced them to shut down their operation for several months.
Before he died, Earnhardt had announced that he would be leaving his team to younger brother Steve. However, two weeks before the race, Steve too died in a crash at Texas Motor Speedway. The deaths of both brothers devastated their family and friends. They were not only racing rivals but also good friends who shared a love for sports and music. After the accidents, Janie Earnhardt, wife of Dale, managed the team with help from some colleagues.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., one of their two sons, then took over the team and went on to win the next three Cup championships. He is now serving as his father's successor at the team.
As for the other son, Jeff, he has not been able to match his brother's success at the sport due to health issues stemming from substance abuse. He has never won a championship trophy nor has he even finished in the top 10 in any of his races.
The Daytona 500 Dale Earnhardt Sr., widely regarded as one of the finest drivers in National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) history, died at the age of 49 on February 18, 2001, in a last-lap collision during the 43rd Daytona 500 at Daytona Beach, Florida. The cause of the accident was determined to be human error.
Earnhardt's death left his family business, the Earnhardt Family LLC, which owns and operates NASCAR's most popular series, in need of a new leader. His son, Dale Jr., now serves as president of the company that bears his father's name.
Earnhardt, who won the first two races of 1971 and finished second in both 1972 and 1973, is best known for his iconic number 3 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS race car. He set several record during his career, including most consecutive seasons with at least one win (7).
In addition to racing, Earnhardt also worked as a television commentator for CBS Sports during the early 1990s. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest driver champions in sports car racing history.
After graduating from East High School in Rome, Georgia, Earnhardt went to work for his family's auto dealership in Virginia. In 1978, he moved to North Carolina to take over for his brother Steve at their new store in Research Triangle Park.
Dale Earnhardt, depicted in 2000, was 49 years old when he died in a car accident on February 18, 2001. During the deadly incident on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, Ken Schrader's vehicle pushes Dale Earnhardt's car. This causes Earnhardt to strike a guardrail with his head, causing fatal injuries.
According to an autopsy report, Earnhardt had alcohol in his system at the time of his death. His blood-alcohol level was 0.24, which is above the legal limit of 0.08. A forensic pathologist concluded that the primary cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and neck area.
Earnhardt was a true racing legend and one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR history. He was a seven-time champion who dominated the early years of the sport. After winning the first two races of the 1971 season, Earnhardt went on to win another seven times, including the very first race held at Daytona International Speedway. He remains today as one of only three drivers to have won the prestigious award known as the "King Award". The others are Bill France Jr. (France is also credited with creating the modern day NASCAR series) and Richard Petty.
In January 2001, nearly a year after his death, NASCAR announced that it would begin using electronic fuel injection in all its vehicles beginning in 2002.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Dale Earnhardt, one of the greatest drivers in history, died on Sunday as a result of injuries sustained in a last-lap incident at the Daytona 500. After sliding into the wall on the last turn of the race while fighting for position, the seven-time Winston Cup winner had to be cut out of his car. He was 49 years old.
Earnhardt is the only driver in NASCAR history to win the premier series championship in its first two seasons. He did so in 1995 and '96 with Michael Waltrip Racing. Before joining MWR, he was part of the dominant Joe Gibbs racing team that also won in 1990 and 1991. He left JGR after three seasons to form his own team, but it failed after just one season.
He returned to JGR for the final two races of 2001 and all of 2002 before leaving NASCAR for good. He returned in 2003 to drive the No. 8 Chevrolet for Rick Hendrick. That relationship ended after one season when Hendrick hired Jeff Gordon as his new driver. In 2004, Earnhardt started second behind Gordon in the season-opening Ford 400 at Rockingham Raceway but finished 38th after hitting the wall trying to pass Mark Martin. He retired after that race and stayed away from NASCAR for five years.
He came back in 2009 to drive the No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. He won the first two races of the season before suffering a concussion in a crash at Dover International Speedway.