Dale Earnhardt Sr.‘s death rocked the world of NASCAR to its core. The sport lost its most prominent driver in a tragic manner. In the years that have followed, Earnhardt Sr.’s mother has laid forth a lone request that she hopes NASCAR can honor.
Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s legacy
Before Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s tragic passing in 2001, he had carved out an illustrious NASCAR career and legacy.
Earnhardt experienced tremendous success on the race track that saw him earn a record-best seven NASCAR Cup Series championships, 76 career NASCAR race wins, and 428 top-ten finishes over 27 years.
His dominance on the track earned him flashy nicknames such as “The Intimidator” due to his aggressive racing style and made him the most popular driver during his time. Earnhardt may not have found success at a record-breaking pace with wins, but he succeeded at the highest level throughout his career.
Since his passing, it has been hard for his family to come to grips with his loss all the years later. With that in mind, Earnhardt’s mother, Martha Earnhardt, has a singular request that she hopes NASCAR can follow.
Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s mom emotional request to NASCAR
Following Dale Earnhardt Sr. ‘s devastating passing, his family has kept a strong connection to NASCAR.
The bond goes much further than Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s racing career and Dale Earnhardt Inc. Dale Sr. ‘s mother, Martha Earnhardt, made her feelings felt during an interview with Fox Sports in February 2014 that she hopes that nobody ever drives the black No.3 car again.
“I have mixed feelings because I was told that I would never see a No. 3 on the race track after Dale died,” said Earnhardt. “I can understand to a point that it was Richard’s number when he drove. This is his grandson and I understand that.
“As long as they don’t make it look like the No. 3. If they paint it a different color, I can sort of deal with it. I don’t want to see the black No.3 just like Dale’s, but that’s not my decision.”
Martha voiced that she doesn’t know she would have felt if her grandson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. would have wanted to race with the No.3 car. She did note that it might not have been as hard to see Dale Jr. in that car than to see someone else racing with that number.
The respect factor there alone is what drives Martha’s feelings toward the situation. However, she does understand why Austin Dillon, Richard Childress’ grandson, drives a semi-black No.3 car with Richard Childress Racing since 2014.
The entire situation remains a touchy subject that may lead to other drivers avoiding that scenario altogether to honor Martha’s wishes.
Forever holds an irreplaceable impact
The No. 3 car aside, Dale Earnhardt Sr. ‘s legacy is one that will forever have its imprint on NASCAR.
Earnhardt Sr. helped change the sport’s landscape and brought significantly increased popularity due to his dominance and strong personality. Other drivers have competed in the No.3 car since his passing, but that won’t ever replace the image and reputation that Earnhardt earned in that vehicle.
His presence was unmistakable and is forever cemented into the sports’ lore. Ultimately, many of NASCAR’s drivers hold him in tremendous esteem, and that will be a ripple effect for years to come.