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Earnhardt, Dale (29 April 1951–18 February 2001), race-car driver, race‐car driver, was born Ralph Dale Earnhardt in Kannapolis, North Carolina, the son of Ralph Earnhardt, an auto mechanic and stock‐car racer on the short tracks of the Carolinas in the 1950s and 1960s, and Martha Coleman. Dale dropped out of school in the ninth grade and went to work in a local textile mill. In 1968 he married Latane Key; they had a son the next year and divorced in 1970. Although his father discouraged him from following in his footsteps by racing, in 1970 Dale Earnhardt began to race stock cars at the local short tracks that proliferated in the Piedmont South....