Why is NASCAR Legend Dale Earnhardt Known as The Intimidator?

Published 12/27/2021, 1:11 AM EST
DARLINGTON, SC – SEPTEMBER 3: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Sr. pose for a photograph after the Pepsi Southern 500 at the Darlington Raceway on September 3, 2000 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images)


In NASCAR, a fair number of top drivers have earned nicknames from the fans and the community. This includes ‘The King’ for Richard Petty, ‘The Candyman’ for Kyle Busch, and many more. There is also a nickname reserved for the legendary driver, the late great Dale Earnhardt.

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As it turns out, he was known as ‘The Intimidator’ to many of his rivals on the race track. This was largely due to his aggressive driving style, which was practically ruthless. Dale Sr was the kind of driver who gave no quarter and had no issues with bumping competitors from behind.

On an interesting note, the nickname surfaced around 1987 after he forced Bill Elliott to spin out during the All-Star Race. Dale Earnhardt had the ability to drive a car beyond its limits; with him behind the wheel, there were two options, drive past his competitors or move them out of the way.

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How did his nature help Dale Earnhardt in his career?

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From a neutral standpoint, there were indeed occasions where his actions were controversial. However, nobody could deny his talent behind the wheel. Over the course of his career, Dale Earnhardt channeled all that aggression to win seven NASCAR Cup titles; six of those came with Richard Childress Racing and one with Osterlund Racing.

NASCAR- Dale Earnhardt Sr.
COURTESY: GETTY

Interestingly, his intimidation also manifested away from the race track as well. His son Dale Earnhardt Jr. said, “You wanted to please him all the time, make him happy and you wanted to, whatever you did, you wanted it to somehow get a response from him.”

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It is also noteworthy that the Bill Elliott incident gave rise to the “Pass In the Grass” tactic. With him behind the wheel of the iconic #3 car, it instilled a sense of fear in many drivers. This is because they would all be waiting for that familiar bump from the nose of Earnhardt’s car. Sadly, the 7-time Cup Series champion lost his life in 2001 at the Daytona International Speedway during the Daytona 500. Without a doubt, it was a great loss for the sport. It is difficult to imagine another personality like The Intimidator in NASCAR.

DIVE DEEPER

“I’ll Never be the King or the Intimidator” – Jimmie Johnson Dismisses Comparisons to Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty

about 1 year ago

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Dhruv George

12563 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Motorsports author for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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