The real story behind Darrell Waltrip's Hall of Fame ride
In NASCAR, there are at least two sides to every story -- the story itself and the story behind the story.
Take the No. 11 Junior Johnson-owned, Darrell Waltrip-driven 1986 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo Aerocoupe that has just been added to the 18-car Glory Road exhibit in Uptown Charlotte.
According to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, here's the basic story: "Waltrip was asked to drive the newly designed model called the Aerocoupe, which featured a large, extended rear window giving the car an aerodynamic advantage. Waltrip had three wins and finished second in points for the year. He continued to compete with this model until May 1989 when it was replaced by the Lumina. During his time behind the wheel of a Monte Carlo Aerocoupe, Waltrip won 12 races and got the biggest victory of his career, the 1989 Daytona 500."
And according to Waltrip, here's the story behind the story on the Aerocoupe.
"Chevrolet developed that car to help us try to compete with Bill Elliott," said Waltrip, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and member of the Hall of Fame's Class of 2012. "Bill's car was so much faster than everybody else's. And everybody was trying to catch Bill. And that was Chevrolet's effort to try and streamline the car a little bit and get a little better aerodynamics and it did, and it really helped.
"The funny story about that car, NASCAR had a rule -- it wasn't a really strongly enforced rule -- you had to make 500 production cars before they would approve a car to be raced. And so Chevrolet had to get that car on the track, so they made these rear windows and we adapted them to the cars we had.
"Chevrolet made about five or 10 (Aerocoupe) street cars and they took them to every race," said Waltrip. "They'd have people drive them around the track or drive them into the city we were in, so people would see the car on the street. NASCAR assumed they were building those cars back in the plant. I don't know how many of them they ever built -- not very many of them."
So the Aerocoupes were on the track long before they were available to the general public on the street.
As it turns out, just 200 Monte Carlo Aerocoupes were built in total, all leaving the factories white with burgundy interiors. The 1986 models were all built in Arlington, Texas, with the '87s in Pontiac, Mich.