Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local Sports

February 22, 2014

Kramer: Earnhardt's No. 3 should be retired, not raced

Rookie assumes iconic number in Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. —

Has it really been 13 years since The Intimidator charged the high banks of Daytona?

I can still recall that fateful February afternoon in 2001 when I was a mere fourth grader who had no grasp on the magnitude of what the racing world lost.

Heck, has there ever been a more monumental tragedy in American athletics? The face of a sport, an icon, meets his end on the track that had been so fulfilling – yet so deflating – to him.

Earnhardt won every race run at Daytona, yet it took him 20 gut-wrenching years to finally triumph the elusive 500. The whiskered and beleagured Hall of Famer only captured it once.

The Daytona 500 –  the Grandady of them all; NASCAR’s Super Bowl – consumed Earnhardt in an almost sickly manner.

He truly believed that an asterik would be inked by his etch in history had he never hoisted the Harley J. Earl trophy – even with his record seven titles to boast.

Daytona was bred to be Earnhardt’s fate.

Gone with the Hall of Famer was his venerable No. 3 racecar, whose black exterior aptly personified the man behind the wheel.

The famed No. 3 makes a much anticipated yet contentious return on Sunday whenrookie Austin Dillon takes the green flag in the Daytona 500.

Dillon, the well-chronicled grandson of Richard Childress, who was Earnhardt’s car owner and best friend, has played the dispute poignantly.

He’s humbled and meek to climb into what will assuredly be a pressure-filled race, season and career.

This initiate is just 23 years old – only a mere four months elder than myself – yet he’s carrying a veteran demeanor.

But no matter how admirable the attitude, how prolonged the tragedy, how anticipated the hype, legends must be revered – and remembered.

Dillon shouldn’t race the No. 3 car because no one should. It’s more than just a number – it’s an icon.

Text Only
Local Sports
Business Marquee
House Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Poll

Do you believe Israel's invasion of Gaza is justified?

Yes
No
     View Results
Smoky Day in Thomasville
CHS AC Work
Project IMPACT 2011
SCBC Harry Potter Themed Blood Drive
TOSAC Rehearses "High School Musical"