Kevin Harvick has replaced superstar Dale Earnhardt on Chevrolet's Winston Cup stock car racing team for the rest of the season. But as Chevrolet Race Shop Manager Gary Claudio explains, Earnhardt may be gone, but he is not forgotten.
'We will never forget our fallen hero,' Claudio says.
Claudio notes that General Motors will honor Earnhardt's memory with a display in the Sports Hall of Fame at GM's headquarters in downtown Detroit. The display will become a permanent part of the GM car exhibit and entertainment complex at Epcot Center at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. There also is talk of retiring Earnhardt's No. 3.
Claudio, who knew Earnhardt both personally and professionally, saw a side of the race driver fans rarely viewed.
For example, at Daytona, Earnhardt arranged for the nephew of a GM employee to meet him and Dale Jr. The little boy's uncle had contacted the team, noting the boy's grave condition because of cancer and his wish to meet Dale Sr. and Dale Jr.
Earnhardt and the team made it happen, and Dale Sr. and Jr. embraced the child at Daytona. This simple gesture was not lost on Claudio, a cancer survivor himself.
He wonders, 'How the hell do you replace a guy like that?'