Dale Earnhardt's first MENCS start: 1975 World 600
Stock car racing legend Dale Earnhardt’s first ever appearance on the NASCAR circuit took place twenty-two years ago at the 1975 World 600, the series’ longest event on the schedule. Earnhardt, who was just 24 at the time, would start the race from the 33rd position and end the day in 22nd, one spot ahead of his future car owner, Richard Childress.
Earnhardt would go from this modest beginning to become one of the winningest drivers in series history, winning 76 of his 676 races and tying Richard Petty for the most championships with seven. Later known as the Intimidator due to his aggressive driving style, Earnhardt amassed a massive, rabid fan base that supported him even when he was clearly in the wrong, though most of the time he was just pushing the other drivers beyond their capabilities.
Earnhardt’s career and life would come to a sudden and unexpected end on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 after a unintentional contact with Ken Schrader’s car sent Earnhardt’s black #3 head-on into the outside retaining wall at almost 180 MPH, killing him instantly. Dale Sr had only recently passed the Earnhardt name to his son, Dale Jr., on the track when the incident occurred.