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Documentary - I Am Dale Earnhardt

I Am Dale Earnhardt
Click pic for Amazon page
I Am Dale Earnhardt
Directed by Jeff Cvitkovic
Comedy Central 2015

For NASCAR fans who buy memorabilia and know most anything and everything about Dale Earnhardt, I guess you already own a copy of this DVD. If not, hurry to go get one before your friends find out. If you’re more like me, and you grew up in the 70s-80s while enjoying watching NASCAR races on TV (in my case, mostly to see spectacular car crashes and pileups), you might want to learn more about this American racing icon. The DVD does a good job of describing the man behind the legend of “the Intimidator”, his persona, and what made him and the sport evolve into what we can see today.

 Dale Earnhardt’s father Ralph was into racing on dirt tracks, but mostly he had become known for the cars and engines he could build. This is probably a good place to start this review. The DVD shows us his family roots, which could explain why so many NASCAR fans could relate to him. We learn in the video that everything Dale did in racing was partly to make his father proud. We also see his humble beginnings where he had to scrape a few dollars here and there to be able to participate in the next weekend’s race. There weren’t tons of sponsors back in his day and this could explain why he became so competitive on the track. Although he became known as the intimidator for sometimes questionable behavior on the track, the film also shows us the difference between the man who was good friends with other racers off the track, and the man who could nudge you out of his way on the track. The footage from the DVD featuring some of these drivers (who are often legends themselves) kept my interest throughout the film. There are also important moments from Dale’s career, whether good or bad, shown and well described by the various people involved. I also liked how Dale Jr., his son, gives his input from when he was a child right up to when he became a driver for his father’s team.

 The DVD also has bonus features. I liked watching the part about the rivalry between him and Jeff Gordon, which was not featured in length in the film. My favorite bonus items were a story about Dale’s mustache and some of the extended racing footage from some of his brilliant accomplishments. His comeback win from 17th position to 1st in the last few laps at Talladega in 2000 is just a pure gem to watch, with cars running 5-wide, yes, 5 abreast, on a track that normally is run 2 or 3-wide, had me on the edge of my seat as if I was there.

I like racing, although I must admit not being NASCAR’s biggest fan ( I personally do drag racing and the occasional track days on circuits... not ovals). However, there’s something about watching a man who had guts of steel managing to win so many races in a spectacular way that almost makes me want to grow an ‘intimidator’ mustache. If you’d like to know more about this driver, this is the documentary to watch.


Vincent Lemire

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