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The Day Racing Died

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Dale Earnhardt

The Day Racing Died

Jeremy T. Sellers
Jerm's Joint
January 26, 2009

This article is Jeremy's response to a previous article on Bump-Drafts.com that was included in the Jim McCoy article, "Remembering Dale- A Post Script: 'The Day Racing Died' by Jeremy Sellers."

Yes, indeed, the day racing died. I was sitting outside of turn four that day. I had met up with my fire chief down in Daytona and he swore he had better seats than my original on the Super Stretch. Not only did I not like my new-found seating arrangement, it put me in bird’s eye view of my favorite driver’s last lap crash.

It was befuddling to me how everyone cleared out of the stands so fast. Me? I stayed to watch the extrication, though they stealthly removed Dale from the track without anyone knowing. However, it was when they covered the car with the blue tarp, I knew the outcome wasn’t going to be favorable. Many are unaware, but NASCAR only does that in the most severe of crashes for investigational purposes. ”

Nearly three hours had passed before the official announcement was made. DaytonaEarnhardt byc.marsh International Speedway and NASCAR wanted to assure everyone was away from the track before passing the news. I was beach side by the time the word was brought to us, just a few steps away from “Daytona 2000?, the city’s most famous NASCAR souvenier shop. It was at that store, I had my first experience with looters. Dale Earnhardt memorabilia flew off the shelves and out the door faster than anything I’d seen in retail sales. Two Daytona Beach Police Officers were working the front and back doors, but they couldn’t keep up with the thieves. It was chaotic. I stood in line for 45 minutes just to pay for a Dale Earnhardt Flag that had been used as a table display dressing, and some other items, crying like a baby the entire time.”

It was surreal to be in the city that night. Ending up at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Ponce Inlet, the place was nearly empty. (Very odd for post race) The cook stated he had heard it was like that throughout the region, you could get a seat anywhere, just walk in. Realizing by my attire, and welted eyes that I was a Dale Sr. fan, the cook went to his car, and came back in with a Dale Sr. computer mouse pad, and a mouse in the form of his #3 car, gave them to me and said, “I was going to sell these, I’m not a big NASCAR fan, but I think you’ll get better use out of them than any amount of money I’d get.” I still have them to this day.”

My birthday is February 15th, and the last two times the 500 has been run on that day, an Earnhardt has won. 1998 with Sr. followed by his son in 2004. I guess this is my hope for this year that Dale Jr. will pull it off once more. Though I have made the trip to Daytona every year since Dale Earnhardt’s passing, and will again next month, I still find myself not only looking for that #3, but wishing for racing’s return of true grit and passion.

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