CONCORD, N.C. – Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s illustrious NASCAR Cup Series career comes to a close this Sunday.
After a decade with Hendrick Motorsports – and 18 full-time seasons in the series – plenty has changed since the driver’s very first Cup start.
That start came at Charlotte Motor Speedway back on May 30, 1999, and we thought we’d take a look back at what was going on in the world as Earnhardt made his debut.
On May 30, 1999:
- The No. 1 song in the country was “Livin’ la Vida Loca,” by Ricky Martin.
- That single put Ricky Martin’s self-titled release as the No. 1 album in the country, but it was less than a week away from being dethroned by Backstreet Boys’ “Millennium,” which proved to be the best-selling album of the year.
- The No. 1 movie in the country was “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” which was the highest-grossing film of the year.
- “SpongeBob SquarePants” had just debuted on Nickelodeon that month.
- Two days after Earnhardt’s debut, Napster – a revolutionary music downloading service – debuted.
- The top-rated shows on television that year were “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” “ER” and “Friends.”
- A week earlier, Bluetooth technology was announced – the first Bluetooth headset would ship the following year.
- The New York Knicks won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals en route to an NBA Finals appearance against the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs.
- Less than two months after Earnhardt’s debut, the U.S. would win the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup in dramatic fashion.
- Microsoft was set to release MSN Messenger Service in an attempt to compete with the popular AOL Instant Messenger.
- Nintendo began work on its upcoming GameCube video game console.
- Bill Clinton was the president of the United States of America.
- A gallon of gasoline cost $1.22.
- Alex Bowman was 6 years old.
- Chase Elliott was 3 years old.
- William Byron was not quite 2 years old.
Through all the changes in the years since, there has been one constant – Earnhardt behind the wheel.
He’ll take his No. 88 Chevrolet for one more ride Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.