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The Inside Track

Hot Corner

November 21, 2001|Shav Glick

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

What: "Dale Earnhardt"

Where: ESPN Classic, Wednesday, 5 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.

There were 316 days remaining in 2001 when Dale Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the Daytona 500, but all the racing events combined since that day cannot carry the impact of The Intimidator's shocking death.

ESPN Classic has pieced together a compilation of vignettes that tell the story of an uneducated kid from Kannapolis, N.C., who rose to become one of motor racing's most venerated competitors. Comments from fellow drivers, crewmen, friends and writers are mixed in with clips of Earnhardt moments on and off the track.

Heavily documented is how he became the Intimidator by knocking other cars off the track in an all-out charge to the finish line. Also shown are other drivers bumping him in the same manner, only to have Earnhardt recover and continue the chase.

"Dale got away with things that other drivers wouldn't try, but they probably wished they could," said Cale Yarborough.

There are rare pictures of a teenage Dale with his father, Ralph, from whom he learned the win-at-all-costs tactics. Ralph was known as Ironhead, the son became the Intimidator.

The relationship between Dale and Dale Jr. runs the gamut from disinterest to giving him an Intimidator bump to fatherly pride when Jr. won his first big race.

"He may be my son and I know he'll have a lot of wins in his future, but I'm not about to give him one," said Dale.

For early day Earnhardt haters, and latter day Earnhardt groupies, ESPN Classic has done its job.

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