NASCAR’s Carolina Hot Spots: Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
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Nestled along the appropriately renamed highway 3 in Mooresville, North Carolina, sits Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated, the race shop turned museum/memorial. For many racing fans, a trip to DEI is something of a pilgrimage, a way to remember the man who brought NASCAR to the forefront of North American sports. His take no prisoners style of driving rightfully earned him the nickname of “The Intimidator” and no wonder. Whether it was keeping his foot on the gas during the 1987 All Star Race’s “Pass in the Grass,” driving along pit road with a knee on his wheel while cleaning the windshield with his arm, popping Terry Labonte during the final lap at Bristol in 1999, or moving from eighteenth to finish first at the 2000 Winston, Earnhardt was fearless and relentless. There was probably no more an unnerving sight than seeing the black number 3 coming up in your rearview mirror.
DEI seems to rise out of nowhere, surrounded by miles of farmland. Walking in, you’re immediately greeted by the intimidating black number 3, Earnhardt’s Chevy Lumina. A turn to the left (no pun intended) and you’ll find two other cars with different paint schemes, as well as an enormous trophy and memorabilia case. The Braves uniform that Atlanta had sent, belt buckles, newspaper clippings, trophies, all on display. Yes, even the 1998 Daytona 500 trophy stands proudly within view. Along the wall, various firesuits worn by Earnhardt hang in glass frames, met at the end by a television displaying various promotional videos as well as a pictorial montage.
To the right of the front door Chevy Lumina, a window to the various cars that won races for Richard Childress Racing and DEI. Several of Dale Sr.’s winning cars rest on the other side of the glass, Dale Jr.’s, as well as the car 2001 Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip drove on the day Earnhardt died.
The displays will change from time to time, keeping everything fresh and giving fans a reason to return. One of the few constants is the black decor. You can bet that’s one aspect of DEI that will never change.
After Earnhardt’s death at the 2001 Daytona, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. was the gathering place for thousands of fans to mourn: a Strawberry Fields powered by racing fuel. Today, it remains just that–a landmark where Earnhardt fans can go to remember a man whose legacy will always be tied into a mythical status held by very few in professional sports.
Take a virtual visit here: