Whether you loved him or hated him, virtually every motorsports fan was well acquainted with Dale Earnhardt. While the North Carolina native showed plenty of talent behind the wheel, he also became famous as the Intimidator. His competitive spirit and willingness to push the envelope weren’t limited to the track.
Dale Earnhardt, for better or worse, wasn’t a man to mess with. That reality became clear on two separate occasions when the Intimidator pulled out his pistol due to some racing rivalries.
Dale Earnhardt made a name for himself as ‘the Intimidator’
Over the years, sports fans have heard plenty of ironic nicknames; think of a big man called ‘tiny’ and you’re in the right ballpark. Dale Earnhardt, however, certainly earned his reputation as the Intimidator.
Although he had plenty of talent behind the wheel, Earnhardt wasn’t willing to stand on ceremony at the cost of winning. Take, for example, his famous “Pass in the Grass.” The Intimidator dueled with Bill Elliot, survived a brief drive on the infield grass, and returned to the race track to keep battling; while he didn’t actually pass anyone during that famous maneuver, he did manage to claim the checkered flag.
From there on, Earnhardt embraced his Intimidator persona. A black paint job and his signature scowl did some of the work, but the veteran driver was never afraid to trade paint or engage in a bit of verbal warfare with his opponents.
While he did receive some death threats due to his driving, things worked out pretty well for Earnhardt. In addition to the on-track results—that resume speaks for itself—branding himself as the Intimidator proved to be a savvy commercial move; whether you loved or hated him, everyone wanted to see what he’d do next.
Firing his gun at toy Geoff Bodine car
During his time behind the wheel, Dale Earnhardt engaged in battles with plenty of opposing drivers. One of those men was Geoff Bodine.
Without relitigating the entire feud, Earnhardt and Bodine pushed each other to the limit during the late 1980s. While Bill France Jr. brokered a truce, things were so fierce that they inspired the bitter rivalry in Days of Thunder.
Understandably, the Intimidator wasn’t too keen on seeing reminders of Bodine away from the track. According to a story Dale Earnhardt Jr. shared on Twitter, Tony Eury Jr. once showed up to the shop wearing a No. 15 Bodine hat. The elder Earnhardt “took it off his head and set it ablaze.”
That wasn’t the only Bodine-related incident, though. After using fire the first time, the Intimidator decided a gun would be more fitting the second time around.
“Later the same year, Tony Jr. showed up with a 15/Bodine RC car. I was watching Tony Jr drive it in the parking lot of dad’s shop,” Dale Jr. tweeted. “Dad walked up, pulled his pistol, and started shooting at the car. Tony Jr. drove it as fast as he could straight out of range.”
Dale Earnhardt also fired his gun at a Ford
Dale Earnhardt didn’t just have rivalries with specific drivers, though. As a Chevrolet man, he didn’t care for anything Ford-related.
“Dad pulled and fired his pistol one other time in the shop parking lot,” Dale Jr. explained in another tweet after sharing the Geoff Bodine story. “A group of us were building street stock race cars. One dude thought he’d build a Ford Thunderbird. Dad put a bullet through the quarter panel and through the fuel cell. No fords allowed on dad’s land.”
Whether you were racing against him or simply passing by the garage, the underlying message was clear: Don’t mess with Dale Earnhardt.