First 'Career" Drives Earnhardt

First 'career' helps drive Earnhardt to success MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 2, 1998) Dale Earnhardt, who is seeking his seventh Martinsville Speedway victory in the Goody's Headache Powder 500 on Sunday, April 19, has never forgotten his early ...

First 'career' helps drive Earnhardt to success

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 2, 1998) Dale Earnhardt, who is seeking his seventh Martinsville Speedway victory in the Goody's Headache Powder 500 on Sunday, April 19, has never forgotten his early days.

He recalls working on docks at a trucking company right after he quit school. "I hated every second of it," he said, "and it was an incentive to drive a race car or do something else in life."

And he has done quite well. Last year, in a Forbes Magazine article, he ranked eighth on the highest paid athletes list with 19.1 million dollars. That select group included NBA stars Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neil, and Grant Hill; heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and golfer Tiger Woods. Not bad company.

Earnhardt enjoys what he does and is under contract until the next century. "It's neat being paid for what you enjoy doing," he said. "I'm not ready to quit and I'm not sure I will be at the end of the contract. " He will turn 47 on April 29 and may be better than ever.

"As guys get older, they get smarter and they don't forget the things they have done. I don't," Earnhardt said. "Everything has gotten better. When I sit down in a race car, it's like the first day I ever raced. There is nothing else on my mind. I'm focused on driving that car and on beating the guy in front of me and beating the guy on my bumper."

Earnhardt may be getting older but he doesn't show it. He once said if the sun didn't go down, he would never go to bed. "I sleep about three or four hours a night," he said. "I'm up every morning about 4:30 or 5 signing autographs for fans who have written. I do that until about 7 and I stay behind."

And the desire to win remains the same. "I had a long dry spell and sometimes that was hard to live with," he said. "Then I won the Daytona 500 and that was great. And that eighth championship will happen, too." Earnhardt and Richard Petty each have won seven NASCAR Winston Cup titles.

While his career has made him rich, it's not all about money. "It's about winning," he said. "I couldn't tell you how much it pays to win the race at Martinsville. The money is an incentive but if it didn't pay anything, I would still want to win. I want to win every race."

The flame of desire for success still burns brightly, fanned by memories of a loading dock.

Martinsville opens its 50th season with NASCAR, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, with the Goody's Headache Powder 200/500 weekend with Bud Pole qualifying and a 50-lap Allison Legacy Series race on Friday, April 17, the Goody's Headache Powder 200 for NASCAR's Featherlite Modified Tour on Saturday, April 18 and the 43rd annual Goody's Headache Powder 500 Winston Cup race on Sunday, April 19.

Good seats still are available and tickets may be ordered by calling (540) 956-3151.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Richard Petty