Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Being an Earnhardt Fan

Being an Earnhardt fan means many things to many people. There are people that were fans of Dale Earnhardt, but couldn't care less about Dale Jr. There are people who never even saw Dale Earnhardt race, but are die hard Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans. There's no right or wrong when it comes to Earnhardt fans.

Reason's why people are Earnhardt fans are much more diverse. Some like Dale's old school, wreckers or checkers style of racing. Others like Dale Jr.'s more finessed style. Some people argue that Dale Jr. does not have the same talent or the same drive that his father had. I would have to disagree.

Dale Earnhardt was a great race driver who could put his car in impossible situations and still pass other cars. Dale was rough at times, but he usually made his reckless style work. Dale would beat and bang on other cars, back when that was more acceptable than it is now. If Dale was behind you, and you didn't get out of his way, Dale would 'move' you out of the way. Some drivers and many fans thought that Dale's style was too rough, even back in the day. The thing about Dale was this: Dale didn't care what you thought about him on the track, he was going to go for the win, even if he was two laps down. The win was always everything to Dale. If Dale came driving up behind you, even if he was two laps behind you, he was going to push you out of the way if you didn't move over. In the old days, that was perfectly acceptable. Today, that behavior will get you black flagged.

People say that Dale Earnhardt Jr. just doesn't have the drive or the willingness to win that his father did. I say bunk to that. Due to recent advances in technology, even we at home can listen to drivers on their radio conversations during the races. As one who listens to Dale Jr.'s radio conversations, I can tell you one thing: Dale Jr. is just as driven to win as the old man was. As far as Dale Jr.'s aggressiveness on the track, I don't think Dale Jr. is any less aggressive. I have seen Dale Jr. put his car in impossible places on the track and still pass cars as did his father. Dale Jr. is just a little more refined. He charges hard, all the time, and really, when you measure raw drive and talent, I see very little difference between the two Earnhardts.

If through a time warp, Dale and Dale Jr. had been able to race every race together, I think we would have seen basically the same show every week by both drivers. Both would have been hard chargers, both would have bumped and banged, and both would have spun cars out on the way to victory. Both would probably have been booed loudly early in their careers, but both would have been cheered late in their careers.

To tell you the truth, I don't see that much difference except the generational thing. This is now a kinder, gentler Nascar than it was in days of old. Dale Earnhardt made Nascar history, and now Dale Earnhardt Jr. is making some more history, but in his own way.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I miss those good old days ~ they were more like Saturday night racing at the local tracks now. w NASCAR is just so vanilla these days.
    My husband is a Dale Sr. fan. I wasn't fond of his style of driving but I did come to appreciate it about a year prior to the good Lord taking him from us. I myself have been a fan of Dale Jr. since he started in Busch and as long as he races, I will be his fan forever.


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