Untraditional. Unfiltered. Unapologetic.
Darrell Waltrip is different. He’s exactly what NASCAR needed at a time of transition at the start of the 21st century.
But come the end of this weekend, race fans will no longer hear the famous words that have made waves throughout the nation: “Boogity, boogity, boogity: let’s go racing boys!”
For too long, fans have disrespected this man. This is a NASCAR legend, one who sparked controversy on the track for decades, refusing to shy away from intimidating the Intimidator himself, dancing around victory lane after winning the Daytona 500 and of course, banging doors with fellow Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace.
“Jaws,” as he’s called by many in the industry, doesn’t shut up. And that’s what makes him so special. While race viewers might not like him because of that, well, too bad.
Waltrip deserves respect. He’s literally been walking around the NASCAR garage every year since 1972. That’s 47 straight seasons of living, breathing and who knows what else NASCAR.
Who knows more inside stories of NASCAR from the 1970s than Waltrip himself? Few, if any.
This reporter met Waltrip for the first time in 2016. He was rather busy, but made time to speak to me. Instead of giving short answers, he was thorough, elaborate and most of all, honest, something all too rare in the NASCAR scene.
Waltrip’s knowledge of NASCAR, combined with a sense of humor unlike any other, made him one of the faces of the sport.
Unlike Waltrip’s driving career, which ended in miserable fashion by DNQing for 13 races in his final two seasons, his time as a broadcaster will end on a relatively high note.
This season might have been Waltrip’s best ever in the booth. His filter — if there even was one to begin with — is completely gone. He’s been telling some great stories in the booth and his accuracy is at an all-time high. His chemistry with comrades Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon is finally where it should be.
But after Sonoma Raceway’s contest this weekend, that’s it. Fans will no longer see the jittery, hyperactive man in the FOX booth.
Here are the three paint schemes that will honor @AllWaltrip as he bids farewell to the @NASCARONFOX Broadcast team after @RaceSonoma for @mattdracing , @DavidRagan, and @StenhouseJr. #ThanksDW #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/IsKoLRXnUN
— Michael Carey (@MichaelICarey) June 20, 2019
Fans, too, should show Waltrip respect. Instead of bashing him because they don’t like his sense of humor or attitude, why not send him off with a bang?
Show Waltrip that you appreciate what he’s done for the sport. As NASCAR made national highlights in the 1980s and 1990s, a great part of that was due to his tactics on the track.
Waltrip’s rivalry with Wallace is noted as one of the greatest of all-time. Once a hated driver, he became a fan favorite all because of a 1989 wreck during the All-Star Race.
Waltrip is a three-time champion in NASCAR’s premier series. He’s a Hall of Famer. He won 84 races, including a Daytona 500. If that doesn’t make him worthy of respect, what does?
Take some time this weekend and think about what Waltrip’s career means to you. He’s been around the highs and lows of the sport. He was close with some of NASCAR’s most popular drivers, many of whom are no longer with us.
Instead of bashing him one last time, relax and enjoy his unusual self one last time. It will be worth it.