Darrell Lee Waltrip, born on February 5, 1947, is an iconic figure in the world of motorsports, leaving an indelible mark as a stock car driver, television broadcaster, analyst, and author. Over a career spanning almost three decades, Waltrip’s achievements on the track and his subsequent contributions to the sport have solidified his legacy as one of the greats in NASCAR history.
Darrell Waltrip’s Racing Career
Waltrip’s journey in the NASCAR Cup Series, formerly known as the Winston Cup Series, began in 1972 and lasted until his retirement in 2000. Racing under the banner of the legendary Junior Johnson, he notably drove the No. 11 Chevrolet, earning him three Cup Series championships in 1981, 1982, and 1985.
With an impressive track record, Waltrip secured a total of 84 NASCAR Cup Series victories, including a historic five wins in the Coca-Cola 600 (1978, 1979, 1985, 1988, 1989) and the prestigious 1989 Daytona 500. His dominance at Bristol Motor Speedway, with 12 victories, remains a record for any driver at the venue.
Not only did Waltrip showcase his prowess on various tracks, but he also set records for modern-era wins, pole positions, and earnings, becoming the first NASCAR driver to surpass $10 million in career race winnings.
Beyond the Cup Series
Waltrip’s success extended beyond the Cup Series, with wins in other racing series such as NASCAR Busch Grand National Series, American Speed Association (ASA), IROC, Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA), and more. His versatility shone through as he competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona and achieved a remarkable 67 wins at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennessee.
Awards and Accolades
Waltrip’s impact on NASCAR is reflected in the numerous awards he garnered throughout his career. From being named NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver in 1989 and 1990 to earning the title of “NASCAR’s Driver of the Decade” for the 1980s, his contributions were recognized on multiple fronts. Inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2012, he joined the ranks of the sport’s elite.
Following his retirement from racing, Waltrip seamlessly transitioned into a successful broadcasting career. Serving as a color analyst for Fox Sports alongside Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds, and Jeff Gordon, he brought his deep understanding of the sport to millions of viewers. His influence extended to print media, where he became a columnist for Foxsports.com and an accomplished author.
Legacy and Inductions
Waltrip’s enduring legacy is evident in his inductions into various halls of fame, including the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2003 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2005. Nominated for the inaugural classes of 2010 and 2011, he secured his place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in the 2012 class.
The Waltrip racing lineage continued with Darrell’s younger brother, Michael Waltrip, a former NASCAR driver and team owner of the now-defunct MWR team.
In June 2019, after an illustrious broadcasting career, Darrell Waltrip bid farewell to the commentary box, concluding his role at Fox Sports after the 2019 NASCAR season.
Darrell Waltrip’s impact on NASCAR transcends the track, making him a true legend whose influence is felt both in the record books and the hearts of racing enthusiasts worldwide. His story is not just a tale of victories but a testament to passion, dedication, and an enduring love for the sport.1 / 2