Starting his driving career in go-karts at age 12, Darrell Waltrip entered his first stock car race just four years later. Waltrip and his father built a 1936 Chevrolet coupe and headed to a local dirt track near their Owensboro, Kentucky home. The first night out was not good as the youngster, barely old enough to drive on the street, slammed the wall and heavily damaged the coupe. Waltrip soon left the dirt and found his niche on pavement where the smoothness he learned in the karts proved a valuable asset. His racing activities continued to increase and by the late 1960’s Waltrip had become a regular at the fairgrounds in Nashville. He quickly developed into one of the nation’s top short-track drivers and made his first NASCAR Winston Cup start in 1972 at Alabama’s Talladega Speedway. He continued to make a sporadic NASCAR start while earning a living as a barnstorming short-track racer. Finally in 1975, Waltrip decided it was time to become a full-time NASCAR Winston Cup competitor. He recalled: “Wherever I would go, I was almost assured I was going to win one or two races a week and I made a good living doing that. It was hard to step to the big leagues and be just another fish in a big pond. So it took some time to make up my mind that I needed to get in there, give it 100 percent and make my mark.” And the rest is history. Some of Waltrip’s accomplishments include the following:
Bill France Award of Excellence in 2000; NASCAR Winston Cup Champion-1981, 1982 & 1985; Most Popular Driver Award-1989 &1990; NASCAR Winston Cup Illustrated Person of the Year-1997; American Dri ver of the Year-1979 1981, 1982; NASCAR Driver of the Decade-1980’s; National Motorsports Press Driver of the Year-1977, 1981, 1982; Auto Racing Digest Driver of the Year-1981, 1982; Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Professional Athlete of the Year-1979; First Winston Cup driver to earn $10 million (Feb 18, 1990).
Waltrip is currently a color analyst for FOX Sports. He also owns Honda, Volvo, Subaru, and Buick/GMC automobile dealerships in Franklin, Tennessee.