Ralph Dale Earnhardt (; April 29, 1951 – February 18, 2001) was an American professional stock car driver and team owner, who raced from 1975 to 2001 in the former NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now called the NASCAR Cup Series), most notably driving the No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. His aggressive driving style earned him the nicknames "The Intimidator", "The Man in Black" and "Ironhead"; after his son Dale Earnhardt Jr. joined the Cup Series circuit in 1999, Earnhardt was generally known by the retronym "Dale Earnhardt Sr.". He is regarded as one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history.The third child of racing driver Ralph Earnhardt and Martha Earnhardt, he began his career in 1975 in the World 600. Earnhardt won a total of 76 Winston Cup races over the course of his 26-year career, including four Winston 500s (1990, 1994, 1999, and 2000) and the 1998 Daytona 500. Along with his 76 career points wins, he has also won 24 non-points exhibition events, bringing his overall Winston Cup win total to 100, one of only 4 drivers in NASCAR history to do so. He is the only driver in NASCAR history to score at least one win in 4 different and consecutive decades (scoring his first career win in 1979, 38 wins in the 1980s, 35 wins in the 1990s, & scoring his final two career wins in 2000). He also earned seven Winston Cup championships, a record held with Richard Petty and Jimmie Johnson.
On February 18, 2001, Earnhardt died in a sudden last-lap crash during the Daytona 500 due to a basilar skull fracture, an event that is regarded in the racing industry as being a crucial moment in improving safety in all aspects of car racing, especially NASCAR. He was 49 years old. Earnhardt has been inducted into numerous halls of fame, including the NASCAR Hall of Fame inaugural class in 2010.