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Fans, Friends, Family Mourn Earnhardt at Memorial Service

Aired February 22, 2001 - 4:24 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: It was a very solemn day in the auto racing world. Family, friends and fans all gathered to remember the man who is truly synonymous with the sport. A memorial was held today for racing legend Dale Earnhardt, who died Sunday, of course, from the injuries he suffered in a crash in the last lap of the Daytona 500.

Joining us now is writer Marty Smith of NASCAR.com.

Marty, we could not, of course, show our viewers more than what Dale Earnhardt Productions gave us today of the memorial service. But you were there. Can you tell us who else was, and what it was like?

MARTY SMITH, WRITER, NASCAR.COM: Yes, several Nascar Winston Cup drivers were in attendance today. Dale Earnhardt's best friends, Michael Waltrip, Bobbie Labonte, Rusty Wallace, of course Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s wife Teresa.

Even country bands -- Brookes and Dunn, and Randy Owen of the band Alabama were there. They did a special tribute song. The mood was very solemn and somber today. People sobbed and people sat stone- faced as everybody realized the magnitude of losing the greatest stock car driver that ever lived.

CHEN: When you talk about some of these big names who were there, even an emotional for them -- even though most of those men had competed with Earnhardt over the years?

SMITH: Yes, his competitors take this very hard. It's not only his best friend, but he paved the way for several of those guys to make it to the level they're at right now. So they're taking it very, very hard right now.

CHEN: I understand that you know Dale Jr. yourself. Can you talk a little bit about how the family is doing?

SMITH: Yes ma'am. They're doing very well. A good friend of mine who raced in the NASCAR Busch series against Dale Jr. -- and as one of his best friends, I just spoke with him a few moments ago and he said that the family's taking it very well.

Teresa is doing very well, she's been very strong. And Dale Jr. also has been very, very strong, and they're just going to pick up and keep doing what Dale would have them to do, and that's go racing next weekend at Rockingham. CHEN: Yes, Rockingham is coming up this weekend, and I guess they're ready to go.

Marty Smith of NASCAR.com, thanks very much for your insight, joining us from Charlotte today, after the service for Dale Earnhardt.

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