Dale Earnhardt's hometown removes his honor flags
Earnhardt's hometown removes his honor flags
From Charlotte Observer, wire reports
Friday, Jul. 25, 2008
KANNAPOLIS - The late Dale Earnhardt's hometown is taking down banners honoring the NASCAR great, at the request of a billionaire developer who is bringing a client to town Saturday.
The Salisbury Post also reported on Friday that the developer's company doesn't want the "Dale Trail" banners going up again.
According to e-mails obtained by the Salisbury newspaper, California billionaire David Murdock is coming to Kannapolis on Saturday with an important guest and wants to put the "best face on the city."
Murdock's company, Castle & Cooke, owns the North Carolina Research Center, a science research park being developed in Kannapolis at the site of the old Cannon Mills.
City Manager Mike Legg wrote in a July 18 memo to the city council that the "Dale Trail" banners would be permanetly removed. Earnhardt was killed in 2001, on the last lap of the Daytona 500.
The Salisbury Post says that in the past week, e-mails have been exchanged among Kannapolis city officials, Castle and Cooke, and the Cabarrus Convention and Visitors Bureau about removing the banners - and whether the NASCAR theme fits with efforts by some business and civic leaders to bill Kannapolis as the "Home to Science."
There are no indications as to the identity of Saturday's guest, but the Salisbury newspaper said there is speculation that it might be Oprah Winfrey. Murdock announced earlier this year that he is working on a joint project with Winfrey, an entertainment billionaire.
In the July 18 memo, Legg told council members and others that the banners would be taken down. He wrote that the Cabarrus Convention and Visitors Bureau agrees with the plan but wants to put up other flags or markers in the future.
"There may be a conflict as to what happens later," Legg wrote, according to the Salisbury newspaper. "There are many (including everybody at Castle & Cooke) that do not want to see anything 'Dale-related' going back up."
Not everyone appears so readily willing to remove the motorsports theme in Kannapolis, though.
The Salisbury Post said DeSales Wagster, president of the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Thursday that she thinks motorsports and high-tech research can co-exist.
"We are extremely proud of motorsports and what it has brought, as we transition into one of the largest bio-tech areas," she said. "They are very compatible. there is truly room for both."