Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Quickfire Questions with NASCAR Champion and Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace

During a recent media tour in Phoenix, 1989 NASCAR Champion and 2013 Hall-of-Fame inductee Rusty Wallace took some time to answer a few burning questions. Read on to find out his most embarrassing race memory, his off-track hidden talent and more!

Phoenix Raceway: How would you describe your racing style?

Rusty Wallace:
 "Calculated aggressive."

What is your favorite race memory?

 "My favorite race memory probably would have to be my very last victory when I won my 55th and final victory at Martinsville, Va., because I was on a little bit of a losing streak. I hadn’t won in 30-to-40 races or something like that. When I won, I’ll never forget standing in Victory Lane and all of the drivers still in their uniforms and they were coming up on stage, shaking my hand, congratulating me. It felt pretty cool. They knew that that win was overdue, and I had made my [retirement] announcement already so when I won that race in 2004, that was fantastic and they knew it too. Even the 55 had a cool sound to it – it wasn’t 53 or 51, it was 55."

Short track or Super Speedway?
"Short tracks are my favorite. I was able to win a lot of them at Martinsville and Richmond and Bristol. That’s what I grew up on, the short tracks."

Favorite type of music?

 "I’m a classic rock guy. I’m old school rock n’ roll stuff, so I like ZZ Top, Van Halen, stuff like that."

Favorite vacation spot?

 "That’s easy – my favorite vacation spot is in Mexico. We’ve got a second home in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and I love going down there. We’ve got a lot of friends, the weather is always beautiful and the weather is super nice. I love going down there."

If you never would have been a driver, what would you be doing?

 "I’d be in aviation. I just love aviation."

Coffee or tea?

 "Coffee ... and tea."

Favorite holiday?

 "Christmas. I like all of the gifts and all the stuff – watching people all happy and getting all excited."

Most embarrassing race memory?

"My most embarrassing race memory is from when I was a young guy, growing up trying to make it in NASCAR, I was at a track in Springfield, Mo., and I won the race. I was so excited that I won that race, you used to always drive around and carry the checkered flag, well I pull over to get the checkered flag and as I’m carrying the checkered flag, I’m driving the car with my knee. I’m holding the steering wheel with my knee, and I’m looking out at all of the people in the grandstands and I’m waving, and I’m waving, and I’m waving and when I turn my head to look back, I ran right head on into the wall. I tore the living hell out of the car. I drove head on into the wall, and knocked the whole front of the car out. It was the most embarrassing thing because everybody’s waving back at me and I didn’t look back. I’m just looking at them, and then BAM, right into the wall."

Favorite ice cream flavor?

 "Vanilla, by far."

What is something people don’t know about you?

 "A lot of people don’t know that I’m a pilot. I’ve got 12,000 hours of flight time. I’m rated in Lear jets and a lot of piston aircraft. I started flying in 1984, and I actually sold my airplane last year. I’m really missing it big time right now."

Did you have a pre-race ritual, and if so, what was it?

 "My pre-race ritual was to always use the uniform that I had the best amount of luck with, so if I won the week before, I’d send that uniform out to get dry cleaned and wear that same uniform. If maybe I finished second or third, I would wear that same uniform because it was a good luck uniform. But if that thing didn’t perform well, if it finished 20th or something after all of those good runs, I’d slide it to the right hand side of the closet. I would always get the uniform that I had the best luck with and put it back on. It was just more of a comfortable feel, so if you had a uniform that was good luck, why change it?"

Favorite thing to grill?

 "My favorite thing to grill are filet mignon. I like cooking filet mignon because I like taking them, putting them on the plate, cutting all of the fat off of them, and then I like to marinate them really good and put them on the grill. I think I make some really good steak, or at least my wife thinks I do."

Window or aisle?

 "Definitely aisle."

When is the last time you were star struck?

 "I never was. I just never have been."

Favorite season?

 "Fall, I love the fall time because you’ve been burning your butt all summer long and then that nice cold temperature comes and it starts feeling so good. In North Carolina where I live, it seems like when the fall comes, we always have clear skies. It’s always pretty, all of the time."

One word you would use to describe Phoenix Raceway?


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