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‘Intimidator’ star of this holiday tree

KITTS HILL – Julie Haas has taken her admiration for racing giant Dale Earnhardt one step further this holiday season.

Monday, December 06, 1999

KITTS HILL – Julie Haas has taken her admiration for racing giant Dale Earnhardt one step further this holiday season.

She now has a Christmas tree to add to her collection of NASCAR memorabilia.

Racecars, tires, postcards and beanies hang from the Dale Earnhardt tree with care.

"Last year at the Festival of Trees, I saw a Dale Earnhardt tree," Mrs. Haas said. "I’d never seen anything like that. I always just saw the traditional trees. When I saw it, I wanted to do it myself."

Mrs. Haas began her search the day after Thanksgiving 1998 for the trinkets that would decorate her tree the following Christmas.

"My aunt in Florida sent me some stuff, and I got some at the NASCAR Cafe in Gatlettsburg, Tenn.," she said. "A friend, Cheryl Waller, made the ribbon and tree skirt for me. I just went to different NASCAR stores."

But it took almost the entire year to prepare for the lighting of the tree, Mrs. Haas added.

"It was hard finding the bulbs," she said. "I called everywhere. I finally found them in Huntington. The lady at the Paramount said she got hers in Colorado. I finally found mine at JCPenney’s in Huntington, W.Va. The bulbs were the hardest thing to find."

Mrs. Haas became interested in racing five years ago after she watched a match with her husband, Keith.

"The first time I went to a race was in the spring of 1996 in Bristol, Tenn.," Mrs. Haas said. "It was thrilling. I don’t know how to explain it. I just love watching the racing. And (Earnhardt), he’s the best."

The fascination with Dale Earnhardt has actually made the family closer in many ways, Mrs. Haas said.

Her husband has been a fan for nearly 10 years now, and their 10-year-old son Kyle helped decorate the special Christmas tree, she said.

"It brings the family together," Mrs. Haas said. "We all enjoy racing. We go to Bristol every spring together."

And now that Mrs. Haas has succeeded in decorating an all-Earnhardt Christmas tree, it’s time for her to move on to her next goal – meeting Earnhardt.

"They had a meet the driver night this past spring, but Earnhardt wasn’t there," Mrs. Haas said. "I got to meet other drivers, but I was disappointed. I imagine if Earnhardt would have been there the line would have been elbow to elbow."