An open letter to fans from Teresa Earnhardt
(February 23, 2001)
Teresa Earnhardt, widow of Dale
Earnhardt, is escorted by a North Carolina Highway Patrolman after Thursday's memorial
Dale Earnhardt's widow sent this letter to USA TODAY
so she could speak to his fans around the world.
I can never fully express my
immense gratitude for the overwhelming support we have received.
It would be easy at this time to get lost
in the sadness of losing a loving husband, father and grandfather. However, I and our
family, as well as everyone at Dale Earnhardt Inc., have chosen to take this time to
reflect not on the sadness we feel today, but on the joy Dale Earnhardt the man brought to
us and Dale Earnhardt the driver brought to so many fans for so many years.
It is a joy that will carry us through
the sadness and grief of this day and many days to come.
For our children, Kerry, Kelley, Dale Jr.
and Taylor, he was a father whose pride in his children was greater than even his
strongest desire as a competitor.
For his mother, Martha, he was a son who
always wanted to make sure she had what she needed.
For his brothers and sisters, he was
always an influential part of their lives.
For his employees, he could be both
demanding and praising and had the ability to create the same desire to win in the crews
and drivers that he had in himself. He was very proud of what the teams at Dale Earnhardt
Inc. had been able to do in a very short period of time and the people who helped it
happen and supported its acceleration.
For his fans, there simply was no one
more sensational and with that I agree.
There were two sides to Dale Earnhardt,
and I am so blessed to have known both for the qualities they carried.
The public Dale Earnhardt wanted to be
the best. The competitive drive that burned inside of him gave him the passion to win. If
he was racing, he wanted to win the most races and championships. If he was fishing, he
wanted to catch the most fish.
The private Dale Earnhardt, the husband
and father and son and brother, wanted to be the best as well. He struggled with that at
times. Emotions didn't come as easy to this man who stirred so much emotion in other
people. But as his children grew and began making decisions of their own, he saw that most
of the time, they made the decision by asking themselves, "What would dad do?"
I will ask myself that in the coming days
and weeks and for a long time after that, I'm sure. "What would Dale do?"
I think what Dale would do, and what Dale
would want us to do, is remember the joy that his life brought. Remember the things about
him that made you happy that you were his fan. Remember the man who loved life.
He was the happiest person I know, and
that can comfort us all.
T h e E a r n h a r d t C o n n
e c t i o n
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