The Death Of A GreatBy Shane R
20 years ago, the 2001 Daytona 500 was underway. One of the greatest in the sport, Dale Earnhardt Sr., was rounding the last turn to possibly win the whole event. To this point, he was one of the most decorated drivers of all-time. But, a pretty standard crash at the tail end turned into devastation. Earnhardt Sr. had a blow to the head when his car hit the barrier, and he was gone. His son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., was racing during the event and witnessed his dad’s tragic accident unfold.
Tim Cowlishaw, a staple sportswriter of the Dallas area, was there as a young aspiring sports reporter. After the death of Earnhardt Sr., a friend said he had witnessed an experience like Michael Jordan dying “in the NBA Finals.” This devastating news rocked the sports world to its core. Cowlishaw said he had seen other sad failures in sport, but nothing to this magnitude. It was not the only death that year either. Three other drivers were killed in a truck race at TMS and while practicing in New Hampshire. The year was marked by sadness and misery.
Ultimately, safety in the sport of NASCAR has only heightened. NASCAR knew if they did not make necessary changes, they would no longer have a sport. Other sports have implemented more safety for longer lifespans for their athletes, better life-quality, and life-giving experiences. We all want more time, and Dale Earnhardt Sr. deserved more. Hopefully, safety is growing with Earnhardt Sr.’s life in mind.