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Earnhardt mourned at memorial service

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (CNN) -- Hundreds of friends, fans and loved ones shared treasured memories of auto racing legend Dale Earnhardt at a memorial service Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Earnhardt died in a crash at the Daytona 500 on February 18 -- the only major NASCAR event that eluded the driver for more than two decades until he finally hit the winners circle there in 1998.

Among those attending the service was Sterling Marlin, whose car bumped Earnhardt's car before it lost control and crashed into a wall between turns three and four in the last lap of the race. Earnhardt died in the crash.

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A pianist played solemn songs amidst arrangements of flowers, one of which was formed in the shape of the number Earnhardt always displayed on his car, No. 3..

Randy Owen, the bearded lead singer of the country music band "Alabama," also performed at the service.

The Rev. Dale Beaver, Winston Cup chaplain, one of the speakers at the memorial, asked loved ones to pray "alone" and "together" and to remember their stories about the late racer and know that he would have wanted to laugh about the stories.

Outside Calvary Church where the memorial was held, fans milled about on the lawn. Among them were people who had traveled from as far away as Maryland, Texas and Minnesota to pay tribute to a competitor so intense his nickname was "The Intimidator."

Fans shared their grief in spirit in other Charlotte funeral homes and in similar halls across the nation. Funeral homes as far away as Ohio and New York offered the public guest books to sign to offer their condolences.



RELATED STORIES:
Earnhardt remembered as NASCAR's 'last cowboy'
February 21, 2001
NASCAR: Earnhardt's death unrelated to rules changes
February 19, 2001
Waltrip's win a sad ending to tragic race
February 18, 2001
Dale Earnhardt Career Highlights
February 18, 2001

RELATED SITES:
The Earnhardt Connection -- Dale Earnhardt NASCAR News
NASCAR.com

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