Country music legend Charlie Daniels had a love affair with NASCAR. Daniels enjoyed attending NASCAR races whenever his schedule permitted, even singing the national anthem on multiple occasions. He was best friends with NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip. His music was always a fan favorite played regularly at NASCAR events.
While most people know Daniels for his hit song and the country music anthem “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” those in the NASCAR community also appreciate Daniels for the song he wrote and dedicated to The Intimidator, Dale Earnhardt. Here’s a look back on Charlie Daniels and his decades-long love affair with NASCAR.
Charlie Daniels performs at NASCAR events
Charlie Daniels and his love for NASCAR was undeniable. While Daniels was always a big fan of the racing circuit, he said his appreciation for the drivers and their skills grew exponentially when he participated in a celebrating racing event years ago.
“I once drove in a celebrity race on a flat track where the highest speed I got my car up to was 95 mph and let me tell you, folks, coming up on a hard curve at 95 is a terrifying experience for an old musician who usually handles nothing more dangerous than a fiddle bow,” Daniels wrote on his blog. “To think about drivers who go into the curves going nearly 100 mph faster was an awakening for me as to just how special these NASCAR drivers are.”
Charlie Daniels always enjoyed attending NASCAR events when the racing schedule didn’t conflict with his band’s touring schedule. On rare occasions, the two schedules meshed together. On those days Daniels would share his talent before the race and sing the national anthem, then he’d head up in the box and enjoy the talent of the drivers on the track.
Daniels and his special friendship with Darrell Waltrip
Charlie Daniels and Darrell Waltrip were friends for years. As recently as February 2019, Daniels wished Waltrip a happy birthday on his Facebook page. A year ago, when Waltrip announced his retirement from the Fox Sports broadcast booth, Daniels took to Twitter to offer his thoughts, which echoed the sentiment of many NASCAR fans.
“To me Darrell Waltrip is the voice of Nascar, his style, his accent, his humor and his experience add up to make him the best there’s ever been,” Daniels wrote. “Ain’t gonna be the same when he leaves. We shore gonna miss you Buddy.”
With the announcement of Daniels’ death, Waltrip wrote a special note on Twitter to his long-time friend.
“I have a heavy heart today, one of my best friends and a country music legend has passed away, Charlie Daniels was a great guy, l loved him like so many others did, RIP my dear old friend!” Waltrip wrote.
Charlie Daniels and The Intimidator
Charlie Daniels always admired NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. In 2000, months before the driver’s death, he got to meet the racing legend. Daniels would later say to ESPN’s Marty Smith that he didn’t even remember the content of their conversation. He just remembered the warmth of Earnhardt.
“It was an experience I will never, ever forget. We had a picture made. And he went on to win that race that day. I was very well aware of The Intimidator. That was very special to me, and will always probably be my special NASCAR moment, meeting Dale. What a nice, truly, genuinely nice guy he was,” Daniels said.
In 2004, Daniels honored Earnhardt the best way he knew how by writing a song called “The Intimidator,” which was written about the 2000 Winston 500 race on the day the two legends met. The opening line of the song says, “Talladega Alabama hot day in the fall.” Midway through the song, it describes Earnhardt’s victory, “The crowd is going wild, Carolina country boy could always find a way to win. Y’all wave bye bye, The Intimidator’s done it again.”
The song concludes with several lines about the No. 8 car of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and how the driving prowess runs in the family.
By his songwriting, his friendships, and his regular appearances at NASCAR races including his singing of the national anthem, Charlie Daniels was as devoted to NASCAR as NASCAR and its fans were devoted to him.