2 Dale Earnhardt Statues Unveiled as a Tribute to the Legend
|Daytona Speedway Statue
plus photos of the final resting place
|By Denise N. Maloof, CNNSI.com
February 8, 2002
5:15 PM EST (2215 GMT)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. --
With a nasty wind gust, and his widow's tug on a rope, the rain-soaked cover shielding Dale Earnhardt's latest memorial tumbled down outside Daytona USA on Thursday.
The approximately 1,200-pound, 9-foot-tall bronze statue depicts the former seven-time Winston Cup champion with a smile on his face and a replica of the Daytona 500 trophy in his right arm. It stands beside the main entrance to NASCAR's Motor sports attraction, nestled in a bed of red petunias.
Before the ceremony, Teresa Earnhardt remembered her husband's signature Daytona moment not as his landmark 1998 victory at the Speedway, but spending pre-race time with the young disabled female fan who gave him the lucky penny he carried in his car that February day.
"You get what you give," Mrs. Earnhardt said, who was assisted in the unveiling by NASCAR patriarch Bill France Jr.
Outside, in the rainy conditions, defending Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip remembered his late boss at Dale Earnhardt Inc., with a tale about Earnhardt bumping him aside at Darlington, and an epilogue of, "I'm glad that I was his friend."
A crowd of family members, media and fans attending the afternoon unveiling, an event that had its roots in July, 2001, according to Speedway president John Graham. Both Earnhardt sons, Kerry, and Dale Jr., were present, along with most of the drivers entered in Sunday�s Budweiser Shootout. The project was cast by sculptor John Lajba, of Omaha, Neb. Mounted it beside, on a wall that borders
a circular walk around the statue, are bronze replicas of Earnhardt's driving gloves -- and his lucky penny.
|Chip Off the ol' Block
Between his own preseason assessments Thursday, Rusty Wallace waxed euphoric over the racing future of his youngest son, 17-year-old Stephen. He described one of Stephen's most recent races, last weekend's Bandelero event at Concord, N.C., that resulted in a track record. "He's going to be the another Jeff Gordon," Papa Wallace said. "No doubt about that. He's not scared of anything. Now, if I can just get the little son-of-a-gun through school."
Slimmer, trimmer Jimmy Spencer will crawl through the window of Chip Ganassi's cars this season. Spencer revealed Thursday that he's lost 15 pounds during the off-season, thanks to a low-fat diet and the encouragement of trainer Al Shuford. That means one of Winston Cup's biggest appetites is hoping to take a bite out of the competition in 2002. But a slimmer profile wasn't the biggest reason for the weight loss.
"I feel better," Spencer said, simply.
Winston Cup President Mike Helton made a brief appearance at Thursday's media session, fielding general questions, and, inevitably, addressing NASCAR's safety emphasis. "I think results at the end of the day made everything click," Helton said about last season's exhaustive investigation into Earnhardt's death, and this season's new safety mandates. "We've had some results, but we've still got a long way to go."
Dale Earnhardt Memorial Plot