Ralph Dale Earnhardt Sr. (; April 29, 1951 – February 18, 2001) was an American professional auto racing driver and team owner, best known for his involvement in stock car racing for NASCAR. The third child of racing driver Ralph Earnhardt and Martha Earnhardt, he began his career in 1975 in the World 600 as part of the Winston Cup Series.
Regarded as one of the most significant drivers in NASCAR history, Earnhardt won a total of 76 Winston Cup races over the course of his career, including the 1998 Daytona 500. He also earned seven NASCAR Winston Cup championships, tying for the most all-time with Richard Petty. This feat, accomplished in 1994, was not equaled again for 22 years until Jimmie Johnson in 2016. His aggressive driving style earned him the nicknames “Ironhead”, “The Intimidator”, and “The Man in Black”. Also, his success at the restrictor plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega earned him the nickname, “Mr. Restrictor Plate”.
In February 2001, Earnhardt died due to injuries sustained in a collision during the final lap of the Daytona 500, an event that was widely lamented in the racing industry. Earnhardt has been inducted into numerous halls of fame, including the NASCAR Hall of Fame inaugural class in 2010.