Fourteen years ago, I did a cartoon based on a situation that had every fan of the late Dale Earnhardt pondering the afterlife. A goat was born on a farm in Interlachen, Florida with a big ‘ole 3 smack dab on her side. Many media outlets covered the story as well. Most were tongue in cheek and somewhat skeptical about the whole deal. I mean really, why on earth would a goat with a marking on its side suddenly be thrust into the spotlight with a lineup of Earnhardt fans wanting to get close to it?
The answer is easy. We human beings just hate to let go. We look for answers, clues, hints, signs…. we look everywhere. This sign presented itself as a goat.
So, being the opportunistic cartoonist I was (still am to a certain degree), I capitalized on the moment too. And when I say “capitalized”, I don’t mean monetarily. Like, what artist unless you’re name is Sam Bass and you’ve been blessed by NASCAR’s mighty flag (or sword, or whatever).
I drew a cartoon of the “3 Goat” and for the life of me, don’t recall how the owners of the goat found out but they requested a signed copy of the cartoon. Of course like anyone who asks, they got a copy. Asking an artist for a piece of their work is akin to enabling a crack junkie. Remember, this was all before Twitter and Facebook. The only social media anyone knew about was going to church or hanging out at the grocery store or race track.
They followed up with a lovely mailed thank you card and that was that.
Fast forward to April 8, 2016… 14 years after the fact.
Across my Facebook feed comes a photo of “Lil Dale”. Stuffed and mounted and now owned by Texas Motor Speedway. Being an animal lover I first did the quick math to ensure that the goat likely died of old age or some other malady that would affect an elderly ruminant. And then I was “ok with it”.
I’m sure I’ll find out more interesting things about Eddie Gossage’s homage to this cloven hooved icon as time goes by but in the meantime, it’s a good opportunity to resurrect my original cartoon from 14 years ago.
Rest in Peace Lil Dale. I hope your heavenly pastures are brimming with clover and sunshine. And hopefully, a smiling Intimidator.