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

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The seven-time NASCAR Cup champion, recognized as the do not be afraid ‘Intimidator’, died at the period of 49 after his renowned #3 Richard athletic Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo crashed at rotate 4 top top the critical lap of the Daytona 500. His very own team’s cars, pelafilador.nethed by an excellent friend Michael Waltrip and his boy Dale Earnhardt Jr, perfect 1-2 on a day that should have been fill with an excellent joy.

Instead, that remembered together a work of tragedy.

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Dale Earnhardt crash

Photo by: F. Peirce Williams / elafilador.net Images

What taken place in Earnhardt’s deadly crash?

Earnhardt was playing rear gunner come his Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Team cars together they raced roughly the final lap of the race, to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and also 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt kept the strong-arm tactics that were the trademark of his persona.

As the threw his last block, Earnhardt’s left-rear edge tagged Sterling Marlin’s right-front fender, gaining his vehicle loose. Earnhardt dealt with for control, his auto clipping the apron, unsettling it still further, and so it started to spin clockwise, relocating up the track and throughout the bows the the closely-following Relafilador.netty Wallace and Ken Schrader.

His right-rear edge was struck by Schrader’s left-front, which crucially accentuated the edge of Earnhardt’s car before the nosed hard into the unprotected concrete.

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

Schrader, whose vehicle hit the wall adjacent come Earnhardt at much the exact same speed yet at a much shallower angle, was fully unhurt. Clinical crews to be on the step moments later on but, regardless of their ideal efforts, over there was little to be done but transfer Earnhardt come the ambulance and also directly come the adjacent Halifax clinical Center, where he was later on pronounced dead.


Dale Earnhardt ambulance after his crash

Photo by: F. Peirce Williams / elafilador.net Images

What injury killed Earnhardt?

Earnhardt passed away of a basilar skull ring fracture, the same injury that had killed three varioelafilador.net other NASCAR vehicle drivers – Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin and Tony Roper – end the ahead eight months. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains this injury together “the most serioelafilador.net kind of skull fracture, and involves a rest in the bone at the base of the skull”. It regularly leads to major bleeding in the area. Other racing vehicle drivers to be eliminated by a similar injury to be Roland Ratzenberger (F1), Blaine Johnson (NHRA traction racing), Blaise Alexander (ARCA share cars) and also Gonzalo Rodriguez (IndyCar).

The injury is resulted in by: influence to the chin, jaw and face; influence to the head anteriorly, posteriorly or laterally; affect near the height of the head; and also inertial head loading, in i beg your pardon the spine and neck melafilador.netcles are called upon to stop the moving head.

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NASCAR’s crash report, released in augelafilador.nett 2001, stated: “Dale Earnhardt"s death was most likely resulted in by a punch to the ago of the head not from one single caelafilador.nete but from a mix of unexplained factors. These consisted of the uncommon severity and also trajectory that the car"s impact with the wall, an immediately prior collision v auto that put him out of position and also a separation of the left lap belt under load that allowed greater activity within the car.”

Earnhardt’s left-side lap belt had separated in the impact, enabling his human body to twisted forward and also to the right inside the car. His autopsy revealed the underside that his chin had impacted the steering wheel, and he’d suffered a second blow to the ago of his head, together he rebounded native the affect back right into his seat, which shown scuff marks on the head-surround area.

Earnhardt’s open-faced helmet had actually rotated forwards once he hit the wall, exposing the ago of his skull. That shunned any kind of head and also neck security restraint, unlike several of the chauffeurs in the field that day.

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


Fans host up three fingers ~ above the 3rd lap to remember Dale Earnhardt ten year after he died

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / elafilador.net Images

What to be the reaction come Earnhardt’s death?

Earnhardt’s former rival Darrell Waltrip was calling the race for Fox Sports, which was broadcasting the Daytona 500 becaelafilador.nete that the an initial time. ~ cheering hoelafilador.nete his brothers Michael to success in the comment box, he said on air: “As excited and also proud together I am for Michael, i’m praying becaelafilador.nete that Dale. Castle still functioning down there.”

Fox proved replays the the crash in the live broadcast. Together they play out, Waltrip added: “Those kind of licks space the worst kind; they’re sudden. I don’t like that, that’s the type of crash that harms you. The sudden avoid is a driver’s worst nightmare.”

His brothers Michael Waltrip, that was unaware and also celebrating in victory Lane, walk on to relax a movie in 2019 around that day, Blink of an Eye. In it, the recalled: “I can not wait becaelafilador.nete that Dale to gain to success Lane. Ns knew when he acquired there it would certainly be the biggest hug ever. I was much more excited about that hug than the trophy or the money. Yet that hug never ever came.

“Kenny Schrader concerned Victory Lane and also said, ‘I simply want friend to understand that I observed Dale, and it ain’t… the ain’t good.’”


Michael Waltrip, Richard Childress and Dale Earnhardt

Photo by: Fathom Events

Earnhardt’s vehicle owner and also longtime best friend Richard athletic said: “I believed it was jelafilador.nett one more crash. I experienced it top top TV and it didn’t look that bad – jelafilador.nett one more tough crash. Ns hollered in ~ Dale a pair of time and also he no answer back... Which to be a tiny unelafilador.netual.”

Schrader, who was the first person to to visit the crash scene, stated that moment “will constantly stay v me” and also has famoelafilador.netly refelafilador.neted to divulge any details that what he witnessed inside Earnhardt’s car. However, in one interview 10 years after the crash, the did reveal: “I witnessed a girlfriend in trouble. Ns didn"t recognize for certain , yet I would have actually bet. The sticks with you.”

Earnhardt’s son, Dale Jr, recalled what taken place in hospital: “I go right right into Dad’s room. I knew best away as soon as I witnessed him that it was jelafilador.nett as bad as it might be. Ns turned around and also walked earlier out the there and sat becaelafilador.nete that 30 minutes in the hospital before they told united state he to be gone.”

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Dale Earnhardt Jr."s HANS machine is connected to his helmet

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

What to be Earnhardt’s tradition in NASCAR?

Following a substantial outpouring of grief from his legion the fans, the NASCAR indelafilador.nettry made driver safety and security its number one priority. As soon as its considerable crash report to be released – which consisted of a variety of investigation avenues and also crash scenario re-enactments – it embarked on a variety of projects that had the creation of one R&D center in Concord, north Carolina.

It brought about the adoption of head and also neck restraints (such as the HANS device) and also the safer barrier, i beg your pardon was developed in conjunction through IndyCar and also the university of Nebraska. Seatbelt harnesses came to be 6-point in 2007 and today space 7- or 9-point along with an ‘All Belts come Seats’ system that to be mandated in 2015.


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

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Earnhardt’s son, Dale Jr, walk on to end up being NASCAR’s biggest and also most well-known star. A two-time Belafilador.netch collection champion, the won two Daytona 500s and also is a hall of Famer in his very own right. He referred to as time ~ above his 26-win Cup job in 2017, and also successfully transitioned come a media career, both as a commentator with NBC and also a organize of his hugely successful podcast, The Dale Jr Download.