Dale Earnhardt’s Crew Member Turns the Clock Back to the Horrific Pocono Crash That Sidelined Him for Six Weeks

Dale Earnhardt Sr’s career will forever go down in the history books as one of the greatest motorsports careers of all time. His seven NASCAR Cup championship wins is a feat unimaginable even today, making him a household name. However, his career wasn’t just glitz and glory. The legendary race car driver dealt with a lot of tough moments on track, including a horrible crash in his debut season.

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The incident took place at Pocono in 1979, Senior’s first full-time campaign in the NASCAR Cup Series. At the time, a young Dale Earnhardt got a taste of what it actually took to be a Cup Series driver. Safety was nowhere near what it is today and even the slightest of crashes often caused a lot of damage to both car and driver. And Senior’s crash was not a slight one. The Intimidator was sidelined for many weeks as a result. In a recent video released by Dirty Mo Media, Earnhardt’s former crew member from Osterlund Racing talked about what it was like.

Lack of Safety Cost Dale Earnhardt Sr


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Today, safety is arguably the biggest area that NASCAR focuses on. Every driver risks their life whenever they go out on track, driving close to each other at high speeds. Their safety in the event of a crash is the bare minimum that these athletes expect.

Despite all the technological advancements, there is still the odd crash that sends a shiver down everyone’s spine. The last such crash happened as recently as last weekend at Daytona, when Ryan Preece’s car flipped almost a dozen times in the air after being tagged from behind.

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In Dale Earnhardt Sr’s rookie season in 1979, events like these were a lot more common, making the sport far more dangerous than it is today. And Senior experienced it firsthand. According to his then-Osterlund Racing crew member Doug Richert, nobody ever expected a car to hit a wall at Pocono on the driver’s side as it was away from the wall. They were all mistaken.

As per Richert, Earnhardt Sr got loose at the flat tunnel turn at Pocono, which spun his car and slammed into the wall driver’s side. The protective measures that we see in stock cars today were practically non-existent back then and Senior had to take the brunt of the impact head-on that put him out of action for six whole weeks.

“If I remember right, it was really from going into the corner. Pocono is really flat and it was back at the tunnel turn, which is flat, and he went in and got loose and it just slapped the wall driver’s side.”

“And at that time, technology, I mean, you know, he had those van seats in the car. No side bracing, no head support, nothing,” Richert said.

However, there is an incredible comeback story from this, which was recently shared by Dale Earnhardt Jr and his sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller. Their father had broken two collarbones as a result of the crash, but they had healed long before the doctors expected.

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The Intimidator Miraculously Recovered From Horror Crash

Earnhardt Sr used to write a newspaper column while he was in his racing days sharing his experiences on and off the track with his fans. In an earlier video released by Dirty Mo Media, his children, Junior and Kelley Earnhardt Miller, spoke about that Pocono crash in 1979 and how quickly their dad had recovered.


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“It wasn’t any special miracle drug that helped me get over my injuries from the Pocono wreck. I wanted to get back in that race car so bad, I must have just psyched myself back to being healthy,” Earnhardt Jr. read from one of his father’s articles.

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“Only him. Only he could psych himself back to being healthy,” his sister responded.

Earnhardt Jr. continued, “So he broke two collarbones, right? And he’s been out for a while but the doctors couldn’t believe it, he says ‘My regular appointment wasn’t until Thursday after the Southern 500, but I called my doctor and we moved it up to Tuesday, the day after the race in Darlington. He told me nobody was supposed to heal that fast. He said everything was fine, but I might have some stamina problems in the first few races. He said he didn’t know what I’d been doing, but it must have been right’.”


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Indeed, it is an incredible story of recovery, and perhaps no one apart from The Intimidator himself could have done it as fast as he did. Apart from being incredibly skilled behind the wheel, Dale Earnhardt Sr was as tough as they come, mentally and physically. He was a true champion in every sense of the term.

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