©01 The Media Desk
The Desk wasn't going to write anything about Dale Earnhardt's death. It didn't want to.
Honestly, It just didn't feel like it was the one to do it. Maybe find an Earnhardt fan, they're a dime a dozen.
But then there was some ninny whining on the radio about how he wasn't going to watch racing anymore because Dale Sr. was dead.
NOW there is something to write about. And this is all it will say about them- "Go on home and cry in your pillow buddy, NASCAR and the Winston Cup and even GM Goodwrench don't need you. The RACE WILL go on!" That is the way Dale would have wanted it, right?
The Desk always put Earnhardt in the same basket with Mario Andretti. And now with AlGore.
Whatever happened on the track, whatever the replay, the physical evidence, and the sworn testimony of nineteen other drivers said, it wasn't their fault. Mario could put the blame for a single car spinout on everybody from the asphalt company to the race sponsor. Without batting an eye. Same with Dale Sr.
It was more than being a sore looser. It was about being the presumed winner.
Mario and Dale both thought they were the ordained winner of every event they entered, and if they didn't it was somebody else's fault. Couldn't be theirs. Except Earnhardt had a slight advantage over Mario.
Mario felt he was superior. Earnhardt was cocky about it.
The Desk was face to mustache with the man on a couple separate occasions at races at Dover Downs.
There was a write-up about one such incident that was called 'Six Feet From A Millionaire' on a local BBS. It happened when he paraded into the infield media center wearing enough sterling silver to make the Hunt Brothers jealous. Theresa was dressed like Ivanna Trump, or maybe Ivanna dressed like her, hard telling any more.
Earnhardt was cocky, that went without saying. But as he answered questions For the others in his party, the Desk got the impression that you were supposed to be talking TO him. Not asking Steve Park or anybody else anything. This was Dale's New Team, Dale's New Driver, Dale's Moment. And don't you forget it.
Arrogance is almost accepted when you are good at something you do, and you know it, and people trip over themselves to tell you about it. It's expected. Sometimes we require it of our stars and force celebrities to live that image whether they want to or not.
The impression Earnhardt gave off at times like that. Or in the garage area around his car as it was waiting to be inspected. Or behind his trailer after qualifying badly. Was that he WAS like that anyway. And he enjoyed it.
No the Desk was NOT an Earnhardt fan. It is not an Earnhardt fan, nor will it be now that he has left us. (and NO that does not mean that it is automatically a Gordon fan either- the Desk likes Dick Trickle, it is also a Cubs fan, see a pattern there?)
'Big E' was a good driver, no argument. Maybe a great driver. Sure, OK.
He was also a dirty driver. When he got his 'cage rattled' last year people that were hardcore Dale fans said he had it coming for years for doing it to everybody else.
Did he finally get it in one last cage rattling? That's for the investigation to determine.
From the replays it looked like good hard last lap racing and Earnhardt just got out of line. It happens. Would the HANS device, strapping the helmet to the seat, have saved him? We'll never know.
Did he deserve to die at the track for two decades of bump drafting and turning people sideways?
That's an unfair question.
The Desk believes that Dale Earnhardt, seeing his own retirement catching him faster than the freight train draft passes a car out of the groove, and loving the spotlight as he did...
...He would want to go out that way (racing for position on the last lap of the biggest race of the year) instead of passing in his sleep after twenty years as a car owner living on other people's glory.
Earnhardt has indeed taken his last checkered flag.
And he will be missed.
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me,
Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death Psalm 9 :13