Guest Author - Debbie Lester
It’s that time of year, again. The kids have been in school for about a month now and life has taken on a more normal routine. We start looking forward to all the things that fall has to offer us. The NASCAR season is heating up, the Chase for the Championship is on.
In our area of the country the school systems provide our children with a “fall break”. So I began to think about things I could take my children see or do on their break and still incorporate our love for NASCAR.
“The Dale Trail” is list of 19 different attractions that you can visit in Kannapolis, the hometown of Dale Earnhardt Sr. Since Dale’s tragic death at the Daytona 500, in 2001 many of his fans have come to his hometown not only to learn more about him but, to remember him. Here is a few of the most interesting stops along the Dale Trail.
One of the first stops on the trail is the Cabarrus County Visitor’s Center. It is the trail head for the Dale Trail and it’s a great place to load up on free maps and brochure’s about the area. Another stop on the trail is Ralph Earnhardt’s grave. Ralph Earnhardt, Dale Sr.’s father was a local legend in his own right. He is referred to by many local’s as “Mr. Dirt Track.” He taught Dale his love for racing and his death in 1973 made Dale even more determined to be a successful driver.
Right down the road is another attraction. There is a section of Kannapolis referred to as “Cartown”. It was here that Ralph and Martha Earnhardt raised their family. The streets all have names related to cars, like V-8 street, Chrysler, Cadillac, and Chevrolet. The family home is still there with the converted garage in the back where Dale and his father worked on their race cars.
Dale Earnhardt Plaza is probably the focal point of the trail. A 900 pound bronze statue of Dale Sr. depicts him as he was known in his hometown. He wears wrangler jeans and has his sunglasses in his pocket. There are many other tributes to Dale in Kannapolis, including his car from his first Winston Cup Championship in 1980, in the window at Curb Motorsports.
Dale Earnhardt Inc. is a huge glass and granite complex that fans have dubbed “the garage mahal”. It is home to the Dale Earnhardt teams and drivers. Fans can tour the showroom which has ever-changing Dale Earnhardt exhibits and a gift shop.
So when thinking about things you can do with your kids for fall break or any other time you want to see something related to NASCAR, the Dale Trail is one possibility that I feel would be fun and informative.