Brooks was good for comic, driving relief

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Darrell Waltrip

Darrell Waltrip — winner of 84 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and a three-time champion — serves as lead analyst for NASCAR on FOX. He was selected for induction into the prestigious NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2012. Want more from DW? Become a fan on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.


Mr. & Mrs. Tommy Mercer from Rockford Ill.: What did Dick Brooks mean to NASCAR? I think he was a colorful person who helped to shape the sport into what it is today. We should always remember all the greats — drivers and media people. Darrell Waltrip: Oh, by the way, Dick Brooks was quite a character. Not many folks know this, but when I first started a race back at Bristol, I got sick and tired. I needed somebody to relieve me, and Brooks was the only relief driver I ever had in all the years I drove. Then in the 1983 Daytona 500, he was driving for Junie Donlavey, and he had a car that was just a rocket He led 15 laps, and I got a lap down early. A caution came out, and I was trying to get my lap back from him. I crashed off of Turn 4, hit the inside dirt bank, rolled back into the track and almost got T-boned by Joe Ruttman.

Here's another funny story that I was reminded of on XM Satellite Radio Channel 144 the other day. Back in the 1980's, it was fun to listen to Barney Hall, Mike Joy and Eli Gold on MRN's race broadcasts. In the pits, you had Ned Jarrett and Dick Brooks. During one race, Richard Petty's clutch was slipping so the booth threw to Brooks in the pits for a report. He started trying to explain how a clutch works. He started talking about how it's got three discs, and the report went on and on. It must have lasted for five minutes. Finally, he ran out of things to say about what was wrong with the clutch and how it worked. Brooks said, "So I guess I'll just throw it back upstairs." Barney Hall replied, "And in our next segment, Dick Brooks is going to explain how to do brain surgery." It was one of the most hilarious moments I've ever heard, but that's the way Brooks was. He had a different perspective, and he probably marched to the beat of quite a different drummer. But he was a great driver. He got his lone win at Talladega in 1973, and he had a lot of chances at winning a whole bunch more races, including that 1983 Daytona 500. He was a great driver and a car owner for a while. With his bib overalls, he was one of the funniest men I've ever met. He was a country gentleman from Califonia who will be dearly missed. I have a lot of fond memories of competing against him and being interviewed by him on a number of occasions. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

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One more oh by the way

The other day, I was thinking about 13 1/2-gallon fuel cells, pit stops, tire changes and all that good stuff. But would you believe that Tiny Lund and the Wood Brothers won the 1963 Daytona 500 without changing tires? Lund got the ride because Marvin Panch got burned, and Lund pulled Panch out of the car, saving his life. Panch asked the Wood Brothers to let Lund drive the car. It's the only time that I know of — probably in the history of the 500 — that a team ran the whole race on the same set of tires. If we could do that today, it would sure save the car owners a lot of money so I thought that was pretty interesting.

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