February 18, 2001 – Dale Earnhardt Sr. dies at Daytona

NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in an accident on the final lap of the Daytona 500 on this day in 2001. It was a three car crash at Daytona that sent Earnhardt’s #3 car into the outside wall head on. An autopsy revealed he had died instantly of blunt force trauma. The crash resulted in NASCAR mandating numerous measures to improve driver safety.

dale earnhardt

Earnhardt in the No. 3 car by Darryl Moran. CC BY-SA 2.0.
Cover photo by James Phelps – Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Earnhardt’s career in NASCAR began in 1975 at the World 600. During his time on the track he racked up 76 Cup Series wins and seven NASCAR Cup Championships, a feat only Richard Petty had accomplished previously and would not be done again until Jimmie Johnson won his seventh in 2016. 

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