Sunday, February 25, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Dale Earnhardt

Driver's death will bring needed focus on safety

The world of auto racing lost a legend when Dale Earnhardt Sr. died. When I watched it on television, it really didn't seem to be much of an impact. I've seen much harder and far more violent collisions before that resulted in only minor injuries.

This is the third Winston Cup/Busch Series death in 10 months, and if the folks at NASCAR thought they were under a microscope for safety issues before today, they are in for a rude awakening. The tragic death of a racing super-legend such as Earnhardt will only help to bring forth safety improvement in an already dangerous sport.

My heart and my prayers go out to the entire Earnhardt family and to those who knew and loved Dale Sr.

Robert MacDonald, Kenmore

Headline insult to vets

As a WWII combat engineer officer who led a platoon ashore on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, I find offensive the headline "D Day at Daytona'' (Times, Feb. 19). To use the name of the most important battle of the 20th Century to call attention to the death in a stock-car race of Dale Earnhardt is to belittle the valor and sacrifice of thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen who breached Hitler's West Wall.

There aren't too many of us left anymore who struggled ashore that memorable and bloody day. Please do not cheapen the name of our battle for the sake of an alliterative headline.

Joseph W. Miller, Bellevue

Still racing in my heart

I have watched Dale Earnhardt since I was 10 years old. I am 19 now and I find it very hard to let go of the man I have looked up to for the past 10 years. Earnhardt was the man of NASCAR. He will be missed, and I know that he will race in my heart forever.

Travis Richard, Oak Harbor

Racing show must go on

Dale Earnhardt would want new memories to be built and cherished by all who loved him.

Keep your heads up, your hearts full and remember with fondness those who paved the way for all of us.

Race on, gentlemen, race on!

V. Tompkins, Woodinville

Winter Olympics

Beer not needed here

Ron C. Judd's piece on the upcoming Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City (Times, Feb. 9) established an idiotic premise - that fun can't be had if booze isn't flowing.

His frat-boy mentality of assuming a Bud must attend every sporting event makes me wonder: What is the purpose of attending the Olympics at all? The thrill of the sport or the beer garden on the fringe? Why must booze, or the lack thereof, be such a major factor in determining the fun factor during the 2002 Games?

I would hope people would stop griping about alcohol and appreciate that we can personally attend a Winter Games for the first time in a while. If you're upset because you can't seem to enjoy sports without 100-proof in your veins, do the rest of us a favor and stay home.

Erik Tavares, Lynnwood

Seattle Stadiums

Kingdome is missed

Blaine Newnham was right with his observations about our new sports stadiums (Times, Feb. 14). The old Kingdome was very good and even added some glitter to events such as the boat show and the RV show. The new exhibition hall is vanilla in flavor. It has no restaurants or areas to relax.

At the boat show, beer was not even available.

It seems with the new building open for more than a year, they should have been able to sell a few beers by now.

Once the place has been visited, it is unlikely that many will return. It is a boring box with no distractions.

Greg Whittle, Shoreline

Jerry Frei

Oregon coach treated his players like men

I was startled and dismayed to read the obituary of Jerry Frei (Times, Feb. 18). You did the man a great disservice.

This is a man who handled his college players as men at a time of great tension on college campuses during the Vietnam era. Rather than demand a false discipline and focus only on football, his players were allowed to voice their opinions openly regarding issues of much greater importance at the time, much to the consternation of myopic alumni.

Those same alums demanded his head if he did not change his coaching staff, and rather than do so, he resigned. How many coaches today have that strength of character?

Not only that, he was right about how to handle players, and he was right about his coaching staff - three, including himself, later became coaches in the National Football League.

Jack Elway, the father of quarterback John Elway, worked with Jerry Frei with the Denver Broncos. He said of the man, "He had more friends than any man I have ever known, and I was honored to be one of them.''

This was a special man, whose work with people superseded football.

Rick Allen, Tacoma

Send us your backtalk

Letters bearing true names, addresses and telephone numbers for verification are considered for publication. Please limit letters to 125 words or less. They are subject to editing and become the property of The Times. Fax them to 206-464-3255, or mail to: Backtalk, Seattle Times Sports, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. Or e-mail to:


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