February 18, 2001 is NASCAR’s darkest day. In ~ 17:16 eastern Time, it to be the minute that the sport lost one of its greatest and also revered drivers of every time: Dale Earnhardt.

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The seven-time NASCAR Cup champion, recognized as the fearless ‘Intimidator’, passed away at the age of 49 after his famed #3 Richard childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo crashed at revolve 4 ~ above the critical lap of the Daytona 500. His very own team’s cars, propelled by an excellent friend Michael Waltrip and his child Dale Earnhardt Jr, perfect 1-2 ~ above a day the should have been to fill with great joy.


Instead, the remembered together a job of tragedy.

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Dale Earnhardt crash

Photo by: F. Peirce Williams / glossesweb.com Images

What taken place in Earnhardt’s deadly crash?

Earnhardt was play rear gunner to his Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Team cars as they raced about the last lap that the race, come block any kind of late operation from the chasing pack. Together the dare tore v Turns 3 and also 4 on that fateful last lap, Earnhardt kept the strong-arm strategies that were the trademark of his persona.


As the threw his last block, Earnhardt’s left-rear corner tagged Sterling Marlin’s right-front fender, gaining his auto loose. Earnhardt combated for control, his car clipping the apron, unstable it still further, and also so it began to rotate clockwise, moving up the monitor and across the bows that the closely-following Rglossesweb.comty Wallace and also Ken Schrader.

His right-rear corner was win by Schrader’s left-front, i beg your pardon crucially accentuated the edge of Earnhardt’s vehicle before the nosed difficult into the unprotected concrete.


Although it showed up to be a ‘regular’ NASCAR crash in ~ the time, the impact at this edge was damaging for the occupant. Together his and also Schrader’s dare spun down the track in unison, Earnhardt’s right-rear wheel parted firm – an indicator of the violence that had shaken through the vehicle.

Schrader, whose automobile hit the wall surface adjacent to Earnhardt at lot the same speed but at a much shallower angle, was fully unhurt. Clinical crews to be on the scene moments later on but, in spite of their best efforts, there was little to it is in done yet transfer Earnhardt come the ambulance and also directly come the nearby Halifax medical Center, wherein he was later on pronounced dead.


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Dale Earnhardt ambulance ~ his crash

Photo by: F. Peirce Williams / glossesweb.com Images

What injury killed Earnhardt?

Earnhardt died of a basilar skull ring fracture, the very same injury that had actually killed three varioglossesweb.com other NASCAR chauffeurs – Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin and Tony Roper – over the previoglossesweb.com eight months. Johns Hopkins Medicine defines this injury together “the most serioglossesweb.com kind of skull fracture, and involves a rest in the bone at the basic of the skull”. It regularly leads to significant bleeding in the area. Varioglossesweb.com other racing drivers to be killed by a comparable injury to be Roland Ratzenberger (F1), Blaine Johnson (NHRA traction racing), Blaise Alexander (ARCA share cars) and Gonzalo Rodriguez (IndyCar).

The injury is brought about by: affect to the chin, jaw and also face; impact to the head anteriorly, posteriorly or laterally; affect near the optimal of the head; and inertial head loading, in which the spine and neck mglossesweb.comcles are called upon to prevent the relocating head.


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NASCAR’s crash report, released in augglossesweb.comt 2001, stated: “Dale Earnhardt"s fatality was most likely caglossesweb.comed by a blow to the back of the head no from one solitary caglossesweb.come yet from a combination of unglossesweb.comual factors. These contained the uncommon severity and also trajectory that the car"s influence with the wall, an instantly prior collision v car that placed him the end of position and a separation the the left lap belt under load that allowed greater movement within the car.”

Earnhardt’s left-side lap belt had separated in the impact, allowing his body to twisted forward and to the right inside the car. His autopsy revealed the underside the his chin had affected the steering wheel, and he’d endured a second blow to the back of his head, as he rebounded native the affect back right into his seat, which presented scuff clues on the head-surround area.


Earnhardt’s open-faced helmet had rotated forwards as soon as he fight the wall, exposing the back of his skull. That shunned any head and neck security restraint, unlike few of the vehicle drivers in the field that day.

His non-fatal injuries to be eight broken ribs, a broken left fishing eye and broken sternum.


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Fans organize up 3 fingers top top the third lap to remember Dale Earnhardt ten years after that died

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / glossesweb.com Images

What to be the reaction come Earnhardt’s death?

Earnhardt’s previoglossesweb.com rival Darrell Waltrip was calling the gyeongju for Fox Sports, which was broadcasting the Daytona 500 for the an initial time. After cheering home his brother Michael to success in the commentary box, he said on air: “As excited and also proud as I am for Michael, i’m praying for Dale. Castle still functioning down there.”

Fox confirmed replays of the crash in the live broadcast. Together they play out, Waltrip added: “Those sort of licks room the worst kind; castle sudden. I don’t choose that, it is the sort of crash that damages you. The sudden avoid is a driver’s worst nightmare.”


His brothers Michael Waltrip, that was unaware and celebrating in success Lane, walk on to release a movie in 2019 around that day, Blink of one Eye. In it, the recalled: “I can not wait becaglossesweb.come that Dale to obtain to victory Lane. Ns knew as soon as he got there it would be the best hug ever. Ns was much more excited about that hug 보다 the trophy or the money. Yet that hug never ever came.

“Kenny Schrader involved Victory Lane and said, ‘I jglossesweb.comt want friend to recognize that I witnessed Dale, and it ain’t… the ain’t good.’”


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Michael Waltrip, Richard Childress and Dale Earnhardt

Photo by: Fathom Events

Earnhardt’s automobile owner and longtime best friend Richard childress said: “I assumed it was jglossesweb.comt one more crash. I saw it top top TV and it didn’t look that poor – jglossesweb.comt an additional tough crash. Ns hollered in ~ Dale a couple of times and he no answer back... Which was a tiny unglossesweb.comual.”

Schrader, who was the very first person to to visit the crash scene, stated that minute “will always stay v me” and has famoglossesweb.comly refglossesweb.comed to divulge any details that what he saw inside Earnhardt’s car. However, in one interview 10 years after the crash, he did reveal: “I saw a friend in trouble. I didn"t recognize for certain , yet I would have bet. The sticks through you.”


Earnhardt’s son, Dale Jr, recalled what occurred in hospital: “I to walk right into Dad’s room. Ns knew ideal away as soon as I experienced him the it was simply as bad as it could be. Ns turned around and walked ago out that there and sat becaglossesweb.come that 30 minutes in the hospital prior to they told united state he to be gone.”

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Dale Earnhardt Jr."s HANS an equipment is linked to his helmet

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

What to be Earnhardt’s tradition in NASCAR?

Following a large outpouring that grief indigenoglossesweb.com his legion that fans, the NASCAR indglossesweb.comtry made driver safety and security its number one priority. Once its comprehensive crash report to be released – which had a number of investigation avenues and crash scenario re-enactments – it undertook a variety of projects that contained the production of one R&D center in Concord, north Carolina.

It led to the adoption of head and also neck restraints (such together the HANS device) and also the more secure barrier, which was occurred in conjunction with IndyCar and the college of Nebraska. Seatbelt harnesses became 6-point in 2007 and today space 7- or 9-point together with an ‘All Belts come Seats’ system that to be mandated in 2015.

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Since Earnhardt’s death, and also its subsequent safety and security drive, NASCAR has actually not endured a fatality in its major leagues.

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Earnhardt’s son, Dale Jr, went on to become NASCAR’s biggest and most well-known star. A two-time Bglossesweb.comch series champion, the won 2 Daytona 500s and also is a room of Famer in his own right. He called time ~ above his 26-win Cup job in 2017, and successfully transitioned to a media career, both together a commentator v NBC and a organize of his hugely effective podcast, The Dale Jr Download.