Dale Earnhardt won 1979 NASCAR “Rookie of the Year”. A year later, he won the 1980 NASCAR championship, the only driver to ever do both consecutively. He dropped out of school in 9th Grade against his fathers wishes who put him to work in his shop, preparing dirt track race cars. His driving career would redefine NASCAR and he became a wildly popular driver. He would win 7 Championships, tied for most ever with Richard Petty. After 20 attempts, he won the “Daytona 500” and every member of every pit crew lined up to shake his hand on his way to victory lane. Earnhardt then drove onto the infield, making tire tracks in the shape of a #3 in the grass.
In 2001, on the last turn of the last lap of the Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt crashed into the wall and was killed. Fans were in disbelief. North Carolina grieved.
Today, leaving Interstate 85 at Exit 60 to Kannapolis, you can follow the “Dale Trail”, watch the single “A” baseball team, the Kannapolis “Intimidators”, and eventually end up here on “Glory Road” at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. There are 19 cars, including this 1996 #3 Chevy. This first floor display ends in a 33 degree bank like Talladega. The cars are real , the fans only a display but walking up the ramp, you’ll eventually reach the “Hall of Fame”, where Dale was inducted along with Junior Johnson and Richard Petty in 2010. There is a later model, black #3 Chevy there.
Ahead of his father, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second in the 2001 Daytona 500, behind another driver for the Dale Earnhardt Team. In 2004, he won.