Dale Earnhardt was a legend of American auto racing, nicknamed "The Intimidator" for his competitive instincts and hard-driving style. Competing in the NASCAR racing league, Earnhardt had 76 career wins and won the Winston Cup championship seven times; as NASCAR grew in popularity during the 1980s and 1990s, Earnhardt became one of America's most popular athletes. His sons Kerry and Dale Jr. followed him into racing. After years of success in other races, Earnhardt Sr. finally won the famed Daytona 500 in 1998. Three years later he was killed in a crash on the final lap of the same race.
After Earnhardt's death, a police investigation and a NASCAR-sanctioned investigation commenced; nearly every detail of the crash was made public. The allegations of seatbelt failure resulted in Bill Simpson's resignation from the company bearing his name, which manufactured the seatbelts used in Earnhardt's car and nearly every other NASCAR driver's car.
The effects that Earnhardt's death had over motorsports and the media frenzy that followed not just in the United States, but all over the world- was massive. Motorsport had not seen a death that had this magnitude of after-effects since Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna's death in 1994.