Book Review: “Dale vs Daytona: The Intimidator’s Quest to Win the Great American Race”

by Paul Gohde

Legend had it that Dale Earnhardt could “feel the air” when a race required knowing how to draft for a win during NASCAR Winston Cup races. But a victory in the iconic Daytona 500 (a track that required great drafting expertise) eluded him for most of his 23-seasons of Cup competition despite having won 30 other events on the 2.5-mile high-banked speedway.

Veteran NASCAR writer Rick Houston chronicles the “Intimidator’s” search for that elusive win from Earnhardt’s rookie 500 in 1979 to the tragic 2001 race that claimed his life on the final lap.

The author has an insider’s view of Earnhardt’s quest, having covered NASCAR events while writing for NASCAR Winston Cup Scene for many years.

Houston takes the reader into the shops and garages of NASCAR, recording Dale Senior’s roller-coaster ride to series’ championships and finally a win in the 1998 Great American Race. He also contributes fresh interviews with car owners, crew chiefs, competitors and friends that explain “why” certain things happened during Earnhardt’s legendary career.

As most fans of NASCAR Cup racing know, Earnhardt had won seven Winston Cup Championships and recorded 70 series’ wins leading up to that long-awaited 1998 victory. No one will ever forget seeing personnel from every team lining pit road after the checkered flag to finally congratulate the popular winner.

But just three Februarys later, Houston gives us a detailed word picture of the last lap crash that ended a legendary career; a fatal crash that later brought about safety initiatives that have saved driver’s lives worldwide.

Fans will appreciate the detail found in Houston’s hardcover book, subtitled The Intimidator’s Quest to Conquer the Great American Race, which contains 240 pages with 113 color/bw photos, many of which have rarely been seen before.
Contact the publishers, Car Tech Inc., at

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