Ten years ago today the NASCAR world was rocked to its core by the death of Dale Earnhardt.
He drove cars, we're told, and did it very fast. If you see a vanity license plate from a Southern state with a "3" on it, the driver is an Earnhardt fan and probably does not have NPR on his radio pre-sets.
Earnhardt's death at Daytona has made him a legend; fans apparently flock to Kannapolis, North Carolina, to travel "The Dale Trail."
In case you can't make the trip yourself, here are five highlights from the trail's official Web site.
5. Stop Number 12: "JUNCTION CAFE & GRILL... DALE'S FAVORITE SANDWICH" The cafe, we're told, "serves a tasty tomato sandwich made just the way Dale liked it. Tomato sandwiches were always among his favorite, a reminder of his beginnings in racing when money was scarce."
Fear not if you can't get there, though: The site includes the recipe. "Martha, Dale's mom, says she made it with sliced tomato, sometimes lettuce, and Miracle Whip on white bread."
4. Stop Number 7: "MAIN STREET / MIDWAY (No existing landmark)" You know what used to be here? A "slot-car emporium" where Dale earned his first racing trophy. There's a Hardee's and a Rite-Aid there now, according to Google maps, but you can still stop and sit a spell and imagine the days of yore.
3. Stop Number 9: "IDIOT CIRCLE" The local cruising circuit: "Martha, Dale's mom, says her son probably logged more miles on Idiot Circle than he did on the race tracks. Maybe this is where he perfected the left turn!"
2. Stop Number 5: "HIGHWAY 29 / FORMER SITE OF EDDLEMAN'S GARAGE & FLYING MILE (No existing landmark)" Sure, now it's just a collection of strip malls and a check-cashing store. But back in the day, "A few blocks south of the intersection," there used to be a famous engine shop.
1. Stop Number 10: DALE EARNHARDT PLAZA Features a "plaza in progress," a granite monument and a bronze statue. Plan accordingly: "Because he is looking slightly to the right, the best time to get a photograph is in the afternoon when there are no shadows on his face."
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