It was the late 1990s, and we were at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Earnhardt was being swamped by race fans, and he was looking around for help.
He saw me and smiled. He knew how to get away.
As I walked up, Earnhardt stuck out his hand and we shook hands. It must have lasted a half-minute, and we had a short conversation. I told him that he owed me one for the favor; he smiled and agreed.
The fans seemed to enjoy the incident because Earnhardt was talking to someone he knew (at least a little bit, in my case).
Then he turned and walked away, leaving me and his fans in the lurch. I saw him a few times after that, but we never spoke one-on-one again.
If you're wondering that was only the second time we ever shook hands.
Related: Angel in Black
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)
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Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie