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Tuesday, March 13
Proclamation made preceding Darlington
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt's daughter and sister joined Gov. Jim Hodges on Tuesday to proclaim this week Dale Earnhardt Memorial Week.

Earnhardt was killed in a Feb. 18 crash at the Daytona 500. "We lost a race driver and we lost an icon," Hodges said.

Hodges said Earnhardt, a seven-time Winston Cup champion, was "truly the face of NASCAR."

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 is Sunday at Darlington Raceway. Earnhardt won nine of his 76 Winston Cup races there, giving him a reputation for success on the track known for being "too tough to tame."

Cathy Earnhardt Watkins said the family appreciated the outpouring of prayers and calls after her brother's death. Earnhardt's daughter, Kelley Earnhardt, sobbed as she thanked Hodges for the honor.

"We lost a very special person in our lives, but it is a true honor that he touched so many more people," she said. "We have had an overwhelming amount of support and we certainly appreciate all the support of South Carolina and this proclamation of Gov. Hodges. ... It will comfort us in the days to come."

Hodges said more than 1,100 South Carolinians signed a condolence book at the Statehouse after Earnhardt's death.

"This wasn't unique to Columbia," Hodges said. "It happened all across the state of South Carolina; it happened all across the country as people shared their love of Dale Earnhardt, their love of racing and the great grief that they felt for the Earnhardt family in his loss."

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