“What would Dale do?”
For many NASCAR fans, that hypothetical question is essentially treated as the sport’s unofficial motto. The late Dale Earnhardt Sr. — a seven-time Cup Series champion — is almost unequivocally considered to be the greatest to ever step foot inside a stock car. The American hero of stock car racing, taken from us too soon. Many former NASCAR fans even invoke Earnhardt’s name as the primary reason behind their lapsed fandom. NASCAR died the day Dale Sr. died, they say.
With NASCAR’s announcement last June that it would be banning the Confederate flag from all events and properties, many of those frustrated with the auto sanctioning body’s decision probably found themselves invoking The Intimidator’s name once again. “What would Dale do?” Well, the Kannapolis, North Carolina native would have, without a doubt, supported the Confederate flag’s removal.
During an episode of the Fast Lane Family podcast back on April 29, 2015 — which would have been Dale Senior’s 64th birthday — Earnhardt’s oldest daughter, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, shared a story about Dale that she promised would “show a lot about my dad’s heart.”
“On my dad’s truck, he had this sticker with a rebel flag that said ‘American by birth, Southern by the grace of God.’ At the time, we had this housekeeper named Ann, and she was the most awesome lady. She was an African-American lady, and she asked my stepmother about my dad’s rebel flag on the back of his truck.
“And so the next thing we know my dad’s out there with a knife and a razor blade, and he’s cutting the rebel flag out of the sticker. He didn’t want to offend anybody or make anybody mad in that manner. It was so sweet. It was a little kind-hearted thing. She just thought that was the best. She’s like, ‘That’s just so awesome that you would do that.’ He had a good heart, a big heart.”
As it turns out, Senior’s eventual disdain for the Confederate flag was passed down to his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“I think if it’s offensive to an entire race, it really does nothing for anybody to be there flying,” Dale Jr. said back in 2015, in support of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s call to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the State House. “It belongs in the history books, that’s about it.”
On June 3, 2020, Junior welcomed Bubba Wallace, the only African-American driver in the Cup Series, on his Dale Jr. Download podcast. Wallace opened up about everything from what it’s like to be black in NASCAR to his own personal experiences with racial injustice.
On June 10, Wallace appeared on CNN to call for the Confederate to be banned from all NASCAR races. Two days later, NASCAR made the official decision.
So, “what would Dale do?” now that NASCAR has banned the Confederate flag? I think the below tweet sums it up pretty damn well.
This post was originally published on June 12, 2020.