Rusty Wallace

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This article is about the NASCAR driver. For the Missouri congressional candidate, see United States House of Representatives elections in Missouri, 2010.
Rusty Wallace
Rusty Wallace.jpg
Rusty Wallace in 1997.
Born (1956-08-14) August 14, 1956 (age 58)
Arnold, Missouri, United States
Achievements

1989 Winston Cup Series Champion
1991 IROC Champion
1983 ASA Champion
1990 Coca-Cola 600 Winner
1989 The Winston Winner

1998 Bud Shootout Winner
Awards

NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee (2013)
International Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee (2013)
National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame inductee (2010)
Motorsports Hall of Fame of America inductee (2014)
Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inductee (1998)
Named a Missouri Sports Legend by the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (2006)
St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame inductee (2011)
NMPA Myers Brothers Award winner (2005)
Two-time NMPA Richard Petty Driver of the Year (1988, 1993)
NASCAR Illustrated Person of the Year (2005)
North Carolina's Order of the Long Leaf Pine (2005)
Delaware's Order of the First State (2005)
Named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers (1998)
1984 Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year

1979 USAC Stock Car Rookie of the Year
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
706 race(s) run over 25 year(s)
Best finish 1st (1989)
First race 1980 Atlanta 500 (Atlanta)
Last race 2005 Ford 400 (Homestead)
First win 1986 Valleydale 500 (Bristol)[1]
Last win 2004 Advance Auto Parts 500 (Martinsville)
Wins Top tens Poles
55 349 36
NASCAR Nationwide Series career
42 race(s) run over 9 year(s)
Best finish 32nd (1987)
First race 1985 Goody's 300 (Daytona)
Last race 2005 O'Reilly Challenge (Texas)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 18 2
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career
1 race(s) run over year(s)
Best finish 92nd (1996)
First race 1996 DeVilbiss Superfinish 200 (Nazareth)
Last race 1996 DeVilbiss Superfinish 200 (Nazareth)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 1 0
Statistics current as of December 21, 2012.
Wallace at Michigan in 1994 with his MGD paint scheme

Russell William "Rusty" Wallace, Jr. (born August 14, 1956) is a retired NASCAR race car driver, a former NASCAR Winston Cup Champion and the Lead Studio Analyst for Auto Racing at ABC and ESPN. Considered one of racing's most well-known and charismatic personalities, he is a member of four of stock car racing's major halls of fame: the NASCAR Hall of Fame (2013), the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (2013), the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (2014)[2] and the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame (2010).

Early racing career[edit]

Prior to joining the NASCAR circuit, Wallace made a name for himself racing around in Florida, by the late 1970s by winning a pair of local track championships. Wallace, a Missouri native, won more than 200 short track races. In 1979 he won United States Auto Club's (USAC) Stock Car Rookie of the Year honors, finishing third in points behind A.J. Foyt and Bay Darnell.[3] He finished second USAC Stock Cars in 1981 behind Joe Ruttman.[3]

In 1983 he won the American Speed Association (ASA) championship while competing against some of NASCAR's future stars like Mark Martin, 1992 NASCAR Champion Alan Kulwicki and Dick Trickle.

NASCAR career[edit]

#88 Rookie of the Year racecar (1984)
Wallace in the #2 (background) in 1985

Wallace finished second in his first NASCAR race at Atlanta 500 in 1980, having started 7th, driving for Roger Penske in the #16. He made nine further NASCAR appearances over the next three years, although he did not score any further top 10 finishes until he went full-time in 1984. Wallace joined the Winston Cup circuit full-time in 1984, winning NASCAR Rookie of the Year honors and finishing 14th in the final points standings. He raced in the #88 Gatorade Pontiac for Cliff Stewart with the best finish of 4th in 30 races, along with two 5th places and four further top 10's. Wallace stayed with Cliff Stewart for 1985, but this time in the #2 Alugard Pontiac. In 29 races, Wallace had 2 top 5s and 8 top 10s.

Blue Max Racing[edit]

For 1986 he switched teams to the #27 Alugard Pontiac for Raymond Beadle's Blue Max Racing team. Rusty's first win came on April 6, 1986, at Bristol Motor Speedway.[1] He also won at Martinsville on September 21. He finished the year with 2 wins, 4 top 5's and 16 top 10's in 29 races. Wallace finished 6th in the points, his first top 10 in the standings. For 1987 Wallace gained sponsorship from Kodiak, establishing the #27 Kodiak Pontiac livery his early career is most remembered for. He took victories at Watkins Glen and Riverside, as well first series pole at Michigan in June. These results were backed up with 9 top 5's and 16 top 10's in 29 races. He finished 5th in points.

Wallace developed his career further in 1988, scoring six victories including four of the final five races of the year. His wins came at Michigan, Charlotte, North Wilkesboro, Rockingham, the final race ever at Riverside, and the season finale at Atlanta. With these 6 wins as well as 19 top 5's four further top 10's, he finished second to Bill Elliott by 24 points.

1989 car at Phoenix with Kodiak paint scheme

In 1989, Wallace won the NASCAR Winston Cup Championship,with crew chief Barry Dodson, by finishing 15th at the Atlanta Journal 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, to beating out close friend and fierce rival Dale Earnhardt who won the race, by twelve points. Wallace also won The Winston in controversial fashion, by spinning out Darrell Waltrip on the last lap.

In 1990, Raymond Beadle switched sponsors, to Miller Genuine Draft. The four-year sponsorship deal was specifically tied to Wallace, meaning it went where the 1989 champ went.[4] The 1989 championship year was reportedly marked with acrimony between Wallace and Beadle. However, Wallace was stuck with the team for 1990 due to his contract.[4] Rusty had 18 wins for Beadle.

Penske Racing[edit]

In 1991 Wallace took the Miller sponsorship with him to Penske Racing,[5] and he continued in the #2 Miller Genuine Draft Pontiac. He also won the 1991 IROC championship. While 1992 only carried him one win, the win at the Miller 400 was satisfying; it was the first win for Rusty in a car which arguably was Rusty's best known chassis for his career, one affectionately known as "Midnight" after the win. "Midnight" would be raced for six seasons, carrying various race wins, before being retired in 1997.

1993 was arguably his most successful season despite two major accidents at Daytona and Talladega in which his car went airborne and flipped several times. He had already won the second race of the season Feb 28th 1993 at North Carolina Motor Speedway but also a sad one as his friend and reigning NASCAR Champion Alan Kulwicki was killed flying into Bristol Speedway in April 1993, because of this Rusty won the race at Bristol and in respect to Alan Kulwicki he did a "Polish victory lap"—turning his car around and driving around the track the wrong way, as made famous by Kulwicki. Every race Rusty won that year he did a "Kulwicki victory lap". He won all 3 races in April (Bristol 4/4/93, North Wilkesboro 4/18/93 and Martinsville 4/25/93). Also he won the first ever race at the New Hampshire Speedway starting 33rd on July 11. In 1993, he won 10 of the 30 races,[6] but finished second in the final points standings, 80 points behind Earnhardt. He ended the season strong, finishing in the Top-3 in all but two of the final ten races of the season.

Penske switched to Fords in 1994.[6] In 1996, sponsorship changed from Miller Genuine Draft to Miller beer sponsorship.

Wallace's only Truck Series start was at Nazareth Speedway in 1996
1997 paint scheme

In 1997, Miller changed the teams sponsorship to Miller Lite, replacing the black and gold with a blue and white scheme. In 1998, Wallace won the Bud Shootout at Daytona, A non-points race for the previous years pole winners and past winners of the race. It was the first win for Ford's new Taurus, and Wallace's only victory at NASCAR's premier track (as well as his only victory in any restrictor plate race) in a Cup car.

In 2000 he secured his 50th career win at Bristol. He also won at Michigan, Pocono, and the night race at Bristol. He finished 7th in the final standings after some inconsistency in the championship race. The next year he won at California for his 54th career win. He won on what would have been Dale Earnhardt's 50th birthday and paid tribute to him with an Earnhardt flag. Rusty almost won the 2002 Sharpie 500 after being bumped out of the way by rival Jeff Gordon.

Rusty Wallace.
Wallace at RIR in 1998.

In 2003, Penske Racing switched to Dodge, and appropriately, in 2004, Wallace won his 55th, and final, race on a short track: the 2004 spring Martinsville Speedway race. It was also the last win for the track under the ownership of the H. Clay Earles Trust; the death of Mary Weatherford (matriarch of the trust) forced the Trust to sell the track a month later.

2005 Nextel Cup car at Goodwood

On August 30, 2004 Wallace announced that the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season would be his last as a full-time driver. Although at the time the possibility remained that he may have continued to run a limited schedule after the 2005 season—as semi-retirees Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte also have done, Wallace's current broadcasting contract forbids him from doing so. Kurt Busch would replace Wallace in the number 2 Miller Lite Dodge in 2006–2010. In 2011, Brad Keselowski began driving the number 2.

In 2006, Wallace returned to his General Motors roots when he raced a Crawford-Pontiac sportscar, painted black and carrying the familiar stylized #2. The car was sponsored by Callaway Golf, in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, teamed with Danica Patrick and Allan McNish, In 2008, his Nationwide Series cars switched from Dodge to Chevrolet.

To date, Wallace has had 55 NASCAR Cup wins, which is tied for 8th on NASCAR's all-time wins list. They include victories at Charlotte as well as the series' last three road courses (Riverside, Infineon and Watkins Glen), but none at Daytona, Darlington, Indianapolis or Talladega. He has the most short track wins in NASCAR history with 34, and therefore he is considered among the best short track drivers in NASCAR history. He retired after the 2005 season with a 14.4 career average finish.

In 2014, Wallace ran at Daytona for testing before the 2014 Daytona 500 as part of a promotion for Miller Lite's 40th anniversary, marking the first time a NASCAR Hall of Famer has driven in a NASCAR test.[7] When asked about the testing, Wallace stated, "It all started at Homestead. I was standing between the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and 2 (Brad Keselowski) cars joking around and those guys were egging me on to get back in a car and when Brad got wind of it, he called me up two weeks later and was serious about it and Roger (Penske) was all for it. Everyone in the world has been on me to test. ‘Why haven’t you been back in a car?’ This here kind of got me."[8]

Broadcast career[edit]

On January 25, 2006, it was announced that Wallace would cover auto racing events for ESPN and ABC. Despite Wallace's lack of open-wheel racing experience, his assignments began with the IndyCar Series and included the Indianapolis 500 (in a perhaps forgivable lapse, he described a thrilling battle on the last lap as "The most exciting Daytona 500 ever!"). He joined the NASCAR broadcasting team for both networks when they started coverage of the sport in 2007.[9] He signed a six-year deal with ESPN in 2006. He returned to commentate for the 2007 Indy 500. He co-hosts NASCAR Angels with Shannon Wiseman.

Car owner[edit]

Up until 2012, Wallace owned and operated Rusty Wallace Racing, which fielded the #62 Pilot Flying J Toyota Camry driven by Michael Annett and the #66 5 Hour Energy Toyota Camry driven by his son Steven Wallace. This operation has been temporarily suspended due to the loss of sponsorship. However, Steve Wallace has confirmed on his Twitter account that the team will return for the Nationwide Series race at Richmond in May 2012 in a former Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang, powered by a Roush-Yates engine. It will be numbered 66, but it is unclear what the sponsor will be, or if the team will run more races during the season.

Family[edit]

His two blood brothers, Kenny and Mike, race on the NASCAR circuit. He and his wife Patti have three children — Greg, Katie, and Stephen. Stephen races in the Nationwide Series and made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at the 2011 Daytona 500, making him the fourth member of his family to compete in the Daytona 500 and in NASCAR, behind the Bodines (Geoff, Brett, and Todd), Pettys (Lee, Richard, and Kyle), Earnhardts (Dale, Kerry and Dale Jr.), and the Allisons (Bobby, Donnie, and Davey). Wallace's father, Russell Wallace Sr., died on October 30, 2011 at age 77.

Iowa Speedway[edit]

In late 2005, Wallace broke ground on his "Signature Design Speedway" in Newton, Iowa. The Iowa Speedway had its first race on September 15, 2006 and hosted many races in 2007 including an IndyCar race. The track is noted for its structural similarity to Richmond International Raceway, where Wallace has won six times. The Iowa Speedway hosted its first NASCAR Nationwide Series race in 2009.

Major crashes[edit]

Rusty's legacy, besides being a close rival of Dale Earnhardt, was a number of severe wrecks he endured, especially at restrictor plate racetracks. The first one happened in 1983, when Rusty was attempting the Daytona 500 through the Gatorade Twin 125's. He was tapped by Rick Wilson, got airborne, and went on a spectacular series of flips that left him hospitalized. His next flip came at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1988. What started it was unclear, but Rusty somehow managed to climb the wall and did a barrel roll. ESPN commentator Dr. Jerry Punch was the first responder, and possibly saved his life. In 1993, Rusty had two massive flips – both at plate tracks. The first was at the 1993 Daytona 500, where he was tapped by the crashing cars of Michael Waltrip and Derrike Cope, and barrel rolled multiple times in the grass on the back straightaway several feet in the air. Months later, at Talladega, racing to the checkered flag, Rusty was tagged from behind by Dale Earnhardt, turned backwards, and flew into the air before violently flipping in the grass past the start-finish line, breaking a wrist (the area where Rusty's car wrecked has since been paved over). Earnhardt was visibly shaken by the incident and did make sure Wallace was okay by checking on him after the race had concluded. Rusty finished 80 points behind Earnhardt in the final points for 1993.[citation needed]

Endorsements[edit]

  • 2003 – Callaway Golf – Callaway Golf Signs NASCAR Driver Rusty Wallace to Multiyear Endorsement and Licensing Agreement.[10]
  • 2009 – U.S. Fidelis – USfidelis TV Campaign Debuts, Featuring NASCAR's Steve and Rusty Wallace.[11] The March 2010 bankruptcy of US Fidelis lists Rusty Wallace Racing as a creditor owed $535,439.[12]
  • 2009 – Lista International Corporation – Legendary NASCAR Driver Rusty Wallace Endorses Lista Products in New Online Video [13]

Other media[edit]

Wallace made a cameo appearance in the movie Days of Thunder. He and his brothers all appeared in the Electronic Arts video game NASCAR Rumble. Mike was featured as a Craftsman Truck Series driver, driving the #2 ASE Dodge (no specific car makes for the Trucks; the real truck was a Dodge at the time), Kenny was featured in the game driving the #55 Square D Chevrolet (although the game's commercial showed him driving the #81 Square D Ford) & Rusty was featured in the game driving his #2 Ford, with the exception that the Miller Lite stickers are replaced by Penske Racing stickers similar to current Penske Championship Racing driver Brad Keselowski, whose sponsor is censored by NASCAR's ban on wireless telephone advertising.

All publishers of NASCAR titles are prohibited from carrying alcohol or tobacco advertising on their cars.[citation needed] He was teammates with his brother Mike, once in his career when Mike Wallace subbed for Jeremy Mayfield at Penske Racing. The #62 South Point Chevrolet Impala SS driven by Brendan Gaughan in 2009 on the NASCAR Nationwide Series intentionally carries a black and gold paint scheme reminiscent of Wallace's legendary "Miller Genuine Draft " car.[citation needed]

NASCAR Cup statistics[edit]

Year Starts Wins Top 5 Top 10 Poles Rank Team
1980 2 0 1 1 0 57th Penske Racing
1981 2 0 0 0 0 64th Ron Benfield
2 0 0 1 0 John Childs
1982 3 0 0 0 0 65th John Childs
1984 30 0 2 4 0 14th Cliff Stewart
1985 28 0 2 8 0 19th Cliff Stewart
1986 29 2 4 16 0 6th Blue Max Racing
1987 29 2 9 16 1 5th Blue Max Racing
1988 29 6 19 23 2 2nd Blue Max Racing
1989 29 6 13 20 4 1st Blue Max Racing
1990 29 2 9 16 2 6th Blue Max Racing
1991 29 2 9 14 2 10th Penske Racing
1992 29 1 5 12 1 13th Penske Racing
1993 30 10 19 21 3 2nd Penske Racing
1994 31 8 17 20 2 3rd Penske Racing
1995 31 2 15 19 0 5th Penske Racing
1996 31 5 8 18 0 7th Penske Racing
1997 32 1 8 12 1 9th Penske Racing
1998 33 1 15 21 4 4th Penske Racing
1999 34 1 7 16 4 8th Penske Racing
2000 34 4 12 20 9 7th Penske Racing
2001 36 1 8 14 0 7th Penske Racing
2002 36 0 7 17 1 7th Penske Racing
2003 36 0 2 12 0 14th Penske Racing
2004 36 1 3 11 0 16th Penske Racing
2005 36 0 8 17 0 8th Penske Racing
Totals 706 55 202 349 36 - -

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Bill Elliott
NASCAR Winston Cup Champion
1989
Succeeded by
Dale Earnhardt
Preceded by
Dale Earnhardt
IROC Champion
IROC XV (1991)
Succeeded by
Ricky Rudd
Preceded by
Mark Martin
ASA National Tour Champion
1983
Succeeded by
Dick Trickle
Achievements
Preceded by
Sterling Marlin
NASCAR Rookie of the Year
1984
Succeeded by
Ken Schrader