Feb. 19, 2001: Dale Earnhardt Sr. dies at 49

The professional racecar driver was involved in a fatal crash during the 2001 Daytona 500.
2:28 | 02/12/18

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Transcript for Feb. 19, 2001: Dale Earnhardt Sr. dies at 49
Millions of racing fans are still shocked by the death of a racing legend. The Daytona 500 is a landmark event on President's Day weekend and when. Stock cars reigning star dale earnhardt's smashed into a wall and was killed just before the finish. It cast a tremendous poll over the sport and its opening day celebration. So we go first this evening to ABC's Ron Claiborn. On the final lap Dale Earnhardt was actually holding back. Blocking a pack of cars behind him to give his son Dale Junior a chance to win the race. Then came the bump that sent him straight into the wall. At first few when the crowd realized how serious the accident was doctors who responded knew it was fatal I could tell. Broke my heart. What was happening today earnhardt's fans returned to the Daytona speedway to pay tribute to him every Sunday you know. Win or lose. He just did a great. Michael Waltrip who was on earnhardt's team won the race Dale Junior finished second in the twinkle of an. You're the presence of the lord. And that's where I think dale is. Earnhardt had survived a much more spectacular mishap here at Daytona in 1997. But crashes like yesterday's with a car hits the retaining wall. Head on are actually deadlier. Earnhardt was one of the major figures in transforming stock car racing from a small regional sport to what it is today. A huge television spectacle generating billions of dollars in TV revenues corporate sponsorships and merchandise sales. He was called the intimidator. And was known to be tough swaggering hard driven. And a winner of 76 races including the 1998. Daytona 500. This the greatest time I've ever had been through I and I are good million. Eight racers have died in the last decade and now Dale Earnhardt is the ninth. This one via I think tougher to take any. Because he was such. It was such a presence of his fourth. We've been earnhardt's death feeder stock car racing if lost its greatest champion and to some even more. It is loss the berries soul of the sport thank you run and Cleveland.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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