The following is one of four posts highlighting the top four contenders in our #SuperStache ‘Stache-Off. Be sure to visit the Super Stache website daily and vote for your favorite NASCAR ‘staches. A winner will be crowned during the 2013 Super Weekend.
We all wondered, “Is the mustache attached to Dale Earnhardt, or is Dale Earnhardt attached to that mustache?” Yes, Earnhardt had a power ‘stache. It was so thick, so rich, so full you could lose a set of car keys in it. 1995 Brickyard 400 winner Earnhardt is sporting a ‘stache in the earliest photos of his racing career, and some wonder if he was born with it.
Like Petty, Earnhardt used his mustache to create an image. Unlike Petty, who was the ultimate, fan-friendly driver, Earnhardt cultivated his lip hair to fine-tune his “Intimidator” character. The mustache made him look like a gunslinger from the Old West and gave him a “don’t mess with me” aura.
In 1999, Earnhardt shocked the world when he arrived at the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a naked face. Yes, baby-butt naked. The burly mustache was gone, and the seven-time NASCAR champion looked — gulp — vulnerable. What happened? Only days before he was with a group of friends in the Caribbean, enjoying a week off, when found himself in a who-can-dive-deepest competition with his best friend, Michael Waltrip.
Waltrip was able to hold his breath and get to the ocean floor, while Earnhardt could not do it. Why? Because his mustache was allowing water into mask when he got to a certain depth. In order to win the friendly competition, Earnhardt had to sacrifice his beloved mustache. Without lip hair, Earnhardt got a tight face seal and was able to achieve his diving goal.
But when he got to Indianapolis, he looked like a turtle without its shell, an elephant without its trunk, a lion without its mane. Fortunately, the mustache grew back faster than a qualifying lap, and we never had to see Earnhardt without his face armor ever again.