Dale Earnhardt Sr began in a second car fielded by NASCAR veteran Ed Negre. Negre’s son, Norman, had talked his father into letting Earnhardt, a buddy, drive the No. 8 car, a 1975 Dodge Charger.
It was a grind. Earnhardt struggled. He wound up pitting once during the race simply to get a drink of water. He finished 22nd, a whopping 45 laps behind the winner — some guy named Richard Petty.
Ironically, Earnhardt finished one position in front of Richard Childress, who later hired the Kannapolis kid as his driver, starting a march to greatness.
Ed Negre described Earnhardt as “one worn-out kid” after the race. Although Earnhardt was essentially ignored on-track that day, his debut became something of a money-maker for Negre many years later after die-cast model-makers produced their versions of the Negre-Earnhardt entry.
Negre later said he totaled more money from his part of the die-cast sales than from his driving career.