Earnhardt Day a gift for fans

DEI pulling out all stops to honor Intimidator's 60th

April 27, 2011|By George Diaz, Tribune Newspapers

The 10-year anniversary of Dale Earnhardt's death was an obvious way to pay respects to The Intimidator. Speedweeks at Daytona in February provided ample opportunity to do that.

Now comes another occasion to honor Earnhardt.

Dale Earnhardt Inc. has designated Friday as "Dale Earnhardt Day" at the DEI facilities in Mooresville, N.C. The event is held annually on his birthday. He would have turned 60 this year.

Fans will have access to exhibits that include the private oil painting of Earnhardt by "two-fisted" artist Denny Dent, who uses three brushes in each hand when he paints.

The original portrait permanently hangs in DEI's corporate offices and will be placed on public display for the first time, accompanied by a 5-minute video of Dent using his frantic style to create it.

The DEI Museum also will feature many of the gifts and tributes sent to and left at DEI and other venues across the nation, honoring Earnhardt's life. Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet will unveil the 2011 "Intimidator" Camaros, one of which will be raffled off to benefit the Dale Earnhardt Foundation.

Autograph sessions will be held throughout the day, with guests including son Kerry Earnhardt and daughter Taylor Earnhardt. More information can be found at daleearnhardtinc.com

Sad news: The last remaining portion of legendary race car builder Smokey Yunick's former garage complex was destroyed in a fire Monday night in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Yunick, who died in 2001 at 77, used to call his place the "Best Damn Garage in Town." Indeed, several significant gains for the automotive industry came out of the garage, including variable-ratio power steering and the extended-tip spark plug, still used in most automobiles. Yunick had 10 patents to his credit.

On the NASCAR scene, Yunick built cars for Daytona 500 champions Marvin Panch and Fireball Roberts. He was equally famous for bending the rules and staying one step ahead of the NASCAR police with strategies such as filling the roll bar with sand to make inspection weight, then letting all the sand run out.

"He didn't really bend the rules," Panch once said. "It's just, if it wasn't in the rule book, he'd take advantage of it."

Good guys: Big thumbs up to Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. They are among four athletes who have granted 200 wishes through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which reaches out to children with life-threatening conditions. The other two are wrestlers John Cena and Hulk Hogan.

George Diaz

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