(Mar. 30, 2000)
Jenna Fryer -- AP
Julie Moses thought there was something
suspicious about the state trooper car riding alongside her. It was a Chevrolet, not a
traditional Ford, and the guy riding shotgun looked familiar.
So she gave the car a hard look as she passed it.
When the trooper pulled in behind her and flipped on his blue lights, Moses thought she
was in trouble for staring.
Moses and the rest of her companions were being singled out
by Dale Earnhardt, who ordered Cpl. Damon Summers of the Alabama State Police to pullover
the car so he could issue them some tickets -- to next month's Die Hard 500 at Talladega
"We weren't sure what we had done and I said, `Is it
against the law to stare at a police car?' " Moses said. "We were scared. But
then Dale Earnhardt got out and we recognized him and we were confused."
Earnhardt got the same reaction from dozens of motorists
Thursday as he cruised along Interstate 65 around Birmingham. The seven-time Winston Cup
champion was patrolling for law-abiding motorists and rewarding them with tickets to the
April 16 race.
The Intimidator was selective with the cars he picked to
pull over, first choosing a Ford pickup truck so he could harass Kevin Wallace of Oneonta
about his make of vehicle.
Earnhardt, who drives a Chevy, was so particular about
makes that he had state police borrow a Chevrolet Impala and turn it into a police cruiser
rather than ride in the Ford model the troopers use.
"I don't think it would have been politically correct
for me to ride in a Ford," Earnhardt said.
He later singled out a Chevrolet pickup because it had a
large No. 24 stuck to its back windshield. Hoping to surprise some Jeff Gordon fans,
Earnhardt was surprised to find a car full of his fans.
"We love Earnhardt, he's definitely our
favorite," said Corey Guthrie of Hueytown, who couldn't hide his excitement as he
stood along the shoulder of the highway next to Earnhardt.
Cars and tractor trailers slowed so rubber-neckers could
see Guthrie show Earnhardt the 24 sticker was in support of Birmingham-area racer Mike
Harmon, not Gordon.
The ticket promotion was part of Alabama's safe driving
campaign and Earnhardt -- who even pumped his own gas when the patrol car needed to pit
for fuel -- said despite initial skepticism over the idea he was glad to be involved.
"Driving safe is a good thing and this was a nice way
to reward people for it,'' he said. "You get to meet Dale Earnhardt, you get tickets
to the race. It was a good idea."
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