This I Believe

Zachary - Harlan, Kentucky
Entered on December 13, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: sports
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in heroes and what they stand for to people like me. As a child I grew up around racing my whole life. The number three to my family and I was symbolic for the little man and how one small town man showed the world how it doesn’t matter where you come from just as long as you do what you love to do. For people like me seeing that number three on the track every Sunday growing up I knew the race was over and that there wasn’t anyone in the Winston Cup that could beat him.

After seeing countless wrecks even death inducing ones and always seeing him walk away made me feel that the driver they called “The Intimidator” was somewhat of a hero to me and always would be no matter what. During the summer driving into Myrtle Beach my family and I saw the NASCAR Speed Park sign say that Dale Earnhardt was going to be there racing fans. Seeing this made me excited because this was going to be the first time I would ever have a chance to meet Dale Earnhardt. The next day I was so excited to get there and hopefully get in a race with my favorite racecar driver, and sure enough we did, my dad and I got to race him on the track named after him called “The Intimidator.”

After that day I was the happiest kid alive, and couldn’t wait to tell my friends that I got to see and race against Dale Earnhardt. As the years went by I continued to support the man I called my hero because I knew that on race day it was going to be a good race. On February 18, 2001 it was the biggest race in NASCAR, the Daytona 500, and this was the first time that Dales’ son Dale Jr. would be racing against him as a D.E.I. driver. The race went on well until that final turn as Dale was in third blocking for his son and his sons’ teammate Michael Waltrip so they could finish one, two, and three. But one move up the track and Dale Sr. hit Ken Schrader and put them both in the wall and Michael Waltrip and Dale Jr. finished one, two but Dale Sr. was in the wall.

People thought it wasn’t bad because he just hit the wall and thought nothing of it because he had walked away from much worse. But when the medical workers seen no movement in the car everyone got worried. Once I seen that there was no movement I was worried and prayed that he was ok but later on that day they made an announcement over the news saying that Dale Earnhardt had died from the impact of the crash and that his seat belt had snapped in two. Hearing this devastated my family and me because he was our favorite driver and my hero.

I didn’t know how I would keep watching NASCAR anymore with my hero dead and no one to fill his shoes. People all over the world mourned the death of “The Intimidator” because people besides me saw him as a hero as well. So for all those people out there who still have heroes in their lives keep them close and expect the unexpected because they could be here today and gone tomorrow. That to me is why I believe there are heroes in this world today.