NASCAR: Earnhardt’s Ford on display in Hall
TALLADEGA, Ala. ó The International Motorsports Hall of Fame has put on display the car that the late Dale Earnhardt didn’t make famous.
The No. 15 Ford Thunderbird that hall officials say Earnhardt drove to his first victory at Talladega Superspeedway nearly 25 years ago will be parked there for the rest of the year. Earnhardt later made the No. 3 black Chevrolet famous and won nine more Cup races at Talladega.
Earnhardt drove the No. 15 Ford to a win on July 31, 1983.
“When most fans think of Dale Earnhardt dominance at Talladega Superspeedway they usually think of him driving the black No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing,” said Rick Humphrey, Talladega Superspeedway president and Hall of Fame executive director. “Little do they know that Earnhardt actually scored his first win here in the blue and yellow No. 15 Ford while driving for Bud Moore.”
Earnhardt spent two seasons racing a Ford for Moore before joining Richard Childress Racing.
The car will remain at the Hall of Fame for the rest of the year, parked next to a No. 3 black Chevrolet that Earnhardt drove later in his career for RCR.
“We didn’t know if the car still existed or not or what shape it might be in,” said Andrew Smith, the speedway’s public relations manager, of the No. 15 car. He found it on the Internet in a private collection at the Memory Lane Museum in Mooresville, N.C. The car was in excellent shape.
A No. 2 Chevrolet that Earnhardt initially drove before switching to Moore’s Thunderbird is also on display.
The 1982 Thunderbird on display has a different nose from the car shown in Birmingham News photos from Earnhardt’s ’83 Talladega win. Speedway officials were still trying to verify they have the right car on Wednesday, but said the owner rebuilt it based on NASCAR photos from ’83.
Those photos show that Earnhardt did run a 1982 Thunderbird throughout that season, speedway officials said. They say Earnhardt likely put a sleeker, 1983 nose on the car for use on a superspeedway.