Dale Earnhardt Sr., without question, is one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR history. But “The Intimidator” was far from universally beloved during his storied career.
One of Earnhardt’s most famous races was the 1987 NASCAR All-Star Race, which he won after a fierce battle with Bill Elliott. The event has a special place in NASCAR lore because of what’s known as the “Pass in the Grass,” a moment that didn’t involve an actual pass, but rather saw Earnhardt regain control of his No. 3 and maintain a late-race lead on Elliott after drifting onto the infield grass.
But the race is also remembered for an incident that occurred moments later, when Earnhardt got into Elliott, causing the No. 9 to lose a tire. “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” long has maintained his displeasure with the incident, which also sparked some seriously disturbing reaction from Elliott’s legion of fans.
NASCAR Reddit on Saturday shared what user XerevoFaris76 claims is a letter sent to longtime NASCAR CEO Bill France Jr. in 1987. In the letter, an unnamed fan not only condemned Earnhardt for his “dirty driving,” but also threatened to kill him later in the season.
(Warning: The letter contains some NSFW language.)
“Dear Mr. France,
“When NASCAR comes north to Poccono, Watkins Glen, and Dover I suggest you leave Dale Earnhardt home. If he comes to race I advise him to 1) have some bodyguards, or 2) wear a bullet-proof vest. I will be at one track, probably all three with my 30.06 When I get a clear shot….
“You (expletive) people won’t do anything about his dirty driving, so someone else will have to. He has pushed his way around NASCAR tracks for too long. If that (expletive) son of a (expletive) wants to drive like that, then let him drive a super modified on dirt tracks. Then he would get pushed back, probably right off the track and into the field where he belongs. You keep talking about the integrity of the sport, and let him get away with all his (expletive).
“It’s too bad Elliott didn’t take him out. You (expletives) had better get your (expletive) together or you’re going to be short one driver. Tell Dale to watch his ass WHEREVER he goes.”
Pretty scary stuff.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had an appropriate reaction to the letter.
Unfortunately, these types of fans still exist in the sport today. Kyle Busch, for one, has made no secret about the death threats he’s received throughout his career.
Passion is great, and NASCAR probably could use a little more of it right now. But there is a line, and too often people step way, way over it.
Thumbnail photo via RacingOne/Getty Images
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