"One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name" said Sir Walter Scott - a fitting epitaph to beloved stock car driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. The racing legend died at the wheel of his coal-black Chevrolet while jockeying for position with other drivers in the final lap of Sunday's Daytona 500.
The seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup series champion had an incredible 676 career starts in that series. He captured 76 victories, 70 second-place finishes and 59 thirds in a career that spanned just 23 years.
As Mr. Earnhardt was amassing his trophies and purses, and defying the odds, he nevertheless was jolted in 1994 with a reminder of the dangerous risks he and all other race car drivers take. He lost his best friend, Neil Bonnet, during a Daytona practice round - oddly enough, it was the same kind of accident and at virtually the same place on the International Speedway track where he would lose his life seven years later.
Dale Earnhardt's storied career was, in every sense, in the fast lane. That's the way he wanted it. The famed "NASCAR Intimidator" loved life and especially the intoxicating thrill of the track. He died "running wide open."
Mr. Earnhardt packed a lot of glory into a short life. He leaves a champion son - Dale Jr. - and a three-car race team (which finished first and second last Sunday) that you can bet will proudly carry on the great man's legacy.