Of German ancestry, Dale Earnhardt was born on April 29, 1951, in the Charlotte suburb of Kannapolis, North Carolina, as the third child of Martha (née Coleman) and Ralph Earnhardt. Earnhardt’s father was one of the best short-track drivers in North Carolina at the time and won his first and only NASCAR Sportsman Championship in 1956 at Greenville Pickens Speedway in Greenville, South Carolina. Although Ralph did not want his son to pursue a career as a race car driver, Dale dropped out of school to pursue his dreams. Ralph was a hard teacher for Dale, and after Ralph died of a heart attack at his home in 1973 at age 45, it took many years before Dale felt as though he had finally “proven” himself to his father. Earnhardt had four siblings: two brothers, Danny and Randy (died 2013); and two sisters, Cathy and Kaye.