The Frontstretch: "Dale"; A Film For Fans And Non-Fans Alike by Matt Taliaferro -- Monday September 3, 2007

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"Dale"; A Film For Fans And Non-Fans Alike

Matt Taliaferro · Monday September 3, 2007


My girlfriend loves me. I'm not sure why; I'm not that great looking, I'm moody, I probably don't buy her gifts often enough — wait, strike the "probably" part — and I don't particularly care to share one of her favorite pastimes: Going to the movies. I can’t pinpoint the reason(s) I fail to appreciate two-hours in the theatre, but I think it has something to do with having to plan ahead, blocking off a portion of my not-very-busy schedule and sitting still for an extended period of time.

Problem is, Kristin loves them. If it were up to her we would spend every Saturday afternoon at the matinee seeing something along the lines of The Nanny Diaries (which by the way, isn't half bad). So it was a masterful stroke on her part three months ago when she bought tickets to the movie Dale. I mean, what better way to combine her passion with mine?

Dale, a CMT Films/NASCAR Images joint, is a poignant — and surprisingly introspective — look at the life and career of Dale Earnhardt. And make no mistake, this is no 3. For all that ESPN does well (read: all-things-baseball, World Series of Poker, 25-straight hours of college football coverage) they can't produce a made-for-TV-movie any better than I can sit through Sense and Sensibility with the aforementioned female.

Dale is one of those documentary-type films that touch you. It makes you want to get in a driver's seat. You leave charged up; you leave wanting to see more; you leave wishing you had lived the rough-and-tumble life on the NASCAR circuit, circa 1987. And you leave with a sense of loss.

I was not a Dale Earnhardt fan in the days of my youth. Waltrip was my guy and, well, you all know how you feel about "your guy." Truth is, I didn't care much for Earnhardt one bit. He and Darrell were chief rivals back then (Richmond ‘86 still irks me) which made that yellow and blue Wrangler ride the bane of my existence. I painted Matchbox cars with model paint to resemble the hulking V8s I viewed on television back then. I painted the No. 11 Budweiser Chevy, the No. 5 Levi Garrett Chevy, Quaker State’s No. 26 Buick and Tim Richmond's Folgers machine, but I never painted one of my cars to match the Wrangler or GM Goodwrench schemes. No way.

Thing is, as I grew I learned to respect the man behind the wheel of the No. 3 for his God-given talent, his dog-gone determination and for what he represented in NASCAR's pantheon of heroes. He was a regular guy like us, as Dale so plainly illustrates. Hell, I even cheered when he finally won his 500. Of course, I also mourned along with the rest of you when he passed on. It was then, in martyrdom as is often the case, that I came to truly appreciate his greatness.

The film Dale will make its television debut this Tuesday, September 4th at 8:00 pm EST on CMT. It will re-air at the same time on the proceeding two evenings. If you are a fan of racing — be it stocks, open wheels, dragsters or anything in between — and have not seen Dale, I believe it's time you tuned in and learned just what a real racing legend is.

From the nastiest wreck you've ever seen anyone walk away from (Pocono, ‘82) to serene moments spent flippin' a buzzbait, this revealing film covers it all: The Richmond race that ushered in the Age of Ironhead, shots of a young Dale Junior vying for his father's attention in Victory Lane and an even younger Taylor Nicole bringing out the unfeigned softy in the man dubbed "The Intimidator". This Teresa Earnhardt-Richard Childress collaborative effort pulls footage from inside the garage and inside the home to document the last true American hero: Dale Earnhardt.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


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09/03/2007 06:50 AM

>>but I never painted one of my cars to match the Wrangler or GM Goodwrench schemes. No way.<<

Aw, come on Matt!

Why do you think god invented lighter fluid and cherry bombs? :o]

I have the same feelings about Ironhead. That cheatin’, beady-eyed little weasel was my least favorite driver.

Damn, I miss ‘em.

09/03/2007 01:44 PM

Thank Goodness, we are getting to see a film about Dale the racer and Dale the man. That Holllywood Dribble 3, that ESPN put out, was to say the least, terrible. To say more, it was sensationalized, talked down to Southerners, and did its best to make Dale the anti-hero. I think “Dale” may be a God-send in the light of the ongoing Dale, Jr- Teresa saga. DJ loves his family, and his family loves him, but business is business, and these people pull no punches when they talk to or about one another. If you need any evidence of that, just look at the Dale Jr, Tony Jr relationship.
Heed this warning, Family is family, they may fight amongst themselves, but let anybody else try, and they will draw back a bloody nub. Teresa is not a villian, Dale Jr is not a villian, lets just watch the movie and enjoy.

09/03/2007 04:33 PM

He was a regular guy like us, as Dale so plainly illustrates.

I don’t know a ‘regular guy’ that would sign away his rights to his first born son so he could keep racing. You can knock ESPN for their movie about DE if you want to but they had the balls to put this tid-bit of info about him in their movie. I’m sure he did good things too but I just was never able to get past that.

09/04/2007 09:56 PM

To Victor, that was the mistake of a young boy, still a kid himself. God forgave him, Kerry forgave him, why can’t you? Poverty is a terrible thing. If you have never been there, you cannot understand. Dale is not here to tell us anymore about his regrets in life.

09/05/2007 02:42 PM

I thought it was a very well put together movie-much better than others I have seen. He used to piss me off the way he drove but he was good. It’s not the same without him. However, I don’t think he would like the way NASCAR is being run today.


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