Sam's Evergreen Articles


By Sam Kouvaris
Original Post date: February 19, 2001

It's incredibly difficult to try to remember someone you were professionally close to and personally liked in a public forum such as this. Of the hundred or so conversations I had with Dale Earnhardt, only about two lasted more than five minutes. He didn't have to say much. You either connected with Dale or you didn't. He would give me a look sometimes and not say a word. He didn't need to. His career stats are enough to place him at or near the top of any list of great drivers.

But two things set him apart: one is well-known. His aggressive style and will to win put him in a special category of competitors. Get to the front, he said, and stay there. The other was not so well-known. His generosity, secretly helping out other drivers less well-known, with an engine or parts here, or some advice at the right moment.

When Eddie Cheever saw him coming through the garage area, after running Earnhardt off the track, in last Sunday's IROC, he thought a fight was about to break out. Instead, Dale smiled, put him in a headlock, and whispered in his ear: "I'll race you next time." When Cheever was asked about it later, he said "Earnhardt. He's something special." He was right.

That blend of honesty and generosity aren't often found among the talented and famous. He wasn't just a guy you wanted driving your race car, he was the guy you wanted to be if you were driving a race car. That's why he was one of my favorite people in sports, and that's why I'll miss him.


The above story was passed to us by a Navy retiree. We thought that it was worth a reprint.


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