Darrell Waltrip has been a fixture at NASCAR tracks for more than 40 years, since he made his first Cup start in May 1972 at Talladega all the way through his last 19 years as an analyst for Fox Sports’ NASCAR coverage.
But that could change after Sunday’s race at Sonoma Raceway, which marks Waltrip’s last as a member of the Fox broadcast team as he rides off into retirement.
On the latest episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast, the 72-year-old Waltrip discussed his broadcasting career’s conclusion and if he’ll still be seen at the track in retirement.
“I don’t know if I’ll go to another race or not,” Waltrip said. “The hardest thing to do, and most people know this that’s been in the sport, is to go to a track and not have anything to do. If you go to the track and you don’t have a team, you don’t have a car, you don’t have a job, you’re just there to show up? That’s a hard road to hold, at least it always has been for me.
“Look, I started racing when I was 12 years old. I’ve said then and I’ll say it now: Ever since I was 12 years old I got up on Sunday morning and held onto something. I held onto a steering wheel for most of my life. I held onto a microphone the last 19 years of my life. I’ve held onto a dream that someday I’d win a Cup race and someday I’d win a championship. When I got into the TV booth, it never happened, but someday it might, that I may win an Emmy for being an outstanding broadcaster.”
Wallace also discussed his preparation for race broadcasts and his reaction to whispers that he was out of touch with the garage and today’s drivers.
“I hear a lot about not being relevant and that really aggravates me,” Waltrip said. “Because one thing I work really hard at and have for most of my career is trust. So when I talk to a Chad Knaus or a Cole Pearn or Rodney Childers, whomever I talk to, I don’t blab … I’ve never been that way. I call guys every week saying, ‘What happened? What’s going on?’ I’ve been in the shops enough to know the equipment.”
Waltrip boasts that if challenged, he could build “a better car by myself than anybody in that garage area.”
The NASCAR Hall of Famer also shared some regrets he had from his broadcasting career, including a very recent one.
“I said something about Jimmie Johnson (last) Sunday that after I thought about it, it wasn’t a great thing to say, but Adam Alexander asked about (Daniel) Suarez and Jimmie, ‘Who’d win a race first?'” Waltrip said. “My response was Suarez is too aggressive and Jimmie’s not aggressive enough. That probably in hindsight wasn’t the right thing to say. I have a lot of respect for the man, seven championships, 83 wins. I have a lot of respect for him. Out of that respect, you should not say something like that.”
You can listen to the full podcast below.
Other highlights: What Waltrip thinks his broadcast legacy is and his defense of his “Boogity” catchphrase (37:00)