DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Dale Earnhardt (aged 49)
American racing driver
Ralph Dale Earnhardt Sr. (April 29, 1951 – February 18, 2001) was an American professional auto racing driver and team owner, best known for his involvement in stock car racing for NASCAR. The third child of racing driver Ralph Earnhardt and first of two to Martha Coleman, he began his career in 1975 in the World 600 as part of the Winston Cup Series.
DEATH: During the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2001, Earnhardt was killed in a three-car crash on the final lap of the race. He collided with Ken Schrader after making small contact with Sterling Marlin and hit the outside wall head-on. Earnhardt’s and Schrader’s cars both slid off the track’s asphalt banking into the infield grass just inside of turn 4. Seconds later, his driver Michael Waltrip won the race, with his teammate and son Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishing second. Earnhardt’s death was officially pronounced at the Halifax Medical Center at 5:16 PM Eastern Standard Time(22:16 UTC); he was 49 years old. NASCAR president Mike Helton confirmed Earnhardt’s death in a statement to the press. An autopsy conducted on February 19, 2001 concluded that Earnhardt died instantly of blunt force trauma to his head due to the accident, and it also reported that Earnhardt sustained a fatal basilar skull fracture. Days later, on February 22, public funeral services were held at the Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.