NASCAR

Dads pave the road for sons to follow

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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.

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I was glad that I was in Nashville for last Saturday's Craftsman Truck race. It was a special day all around. I was the grand marshal. It was the Toyota Tundra 200, and David Reutimann won his first big-time race so it was really special for all of us.

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Reutimann wins first Truck race

It certainly meant a lot to David, but as I walked into Victory Circle, I was the second one there because David's father, Buzzie Reutimann — who is a great racer in his own right — was the first one there. I have never seen such a smile on a man's face. It went from ear to ear, and you could just see the pride and gratification just beaming off of Buzzie's face. He was so pleased and so proud of David. His reaction in itself was an experience that I'll never forget. I had the same feeling on Tuesday night when Brandon McReynolds called and told me that he had won the Bandolero Young Guns championship at Lowe's Motor Speedway. David and Brandon exemplified humility. David was so relieved to have won his first race, and Brandon was the same way. He called me and said, "Mr. Waltrip, I just wanted to let you know that I won the championship." I've got to tell you. Saturday put tears in my eyes, and then when Brandon called me, it put tears in my eyes, mainly because I just knew how much it meant to their dads. I knew how hard Larry has worked to help Brandon accomplish his goals. I know how much support Buzzie has given David to help him accomplish his goals. So those wins made it all worthwhile and special. David and Brandon have a lot in common, and they've come a long way. When Brandon started out in the Bandoleros, I watched him race with Larry, and I scratched my head. I said, "I don't know, Larry. You've got a lot of work to do." But they persevered, and Larry kept encouraging Brandon, and now it's paid off. Even Jeff Hammond with Brandon Whitt, a young kid in the Craftsman Truck Series that he's hooked up with. Whitt's family supported his racing up until Jeff and his investors bought into the deal. I just think that's so special the bond that a father and a son can develop through our sport, and it's not just Larry and Brandon or Buzzie and David. You look at all the fathers and sons in NASCAR from Big Bill France to Bill Jr. to Brian and Lee Petty to Richard to Kyle. Buddy Baker and his dad Buck and today with Russ Wallace and the Wallace brothers, Jimmie Johnson and his father, Casey Mears and his father, Jamie McMurray and his father, the Busch boys and their father — there are just dads all around. Dale Earnhardt was the same way with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kelley and Kerry. I've always said that Dale Sr. exemplified what you can accomplish through hard work, and that's a mark of all of these fathers and sons who are successful today. They willing to work hard and make huge sacrifices in order to accomplish great things. These families have supported their children and helped them pursue their dreams and their goals to accomplish things that some of us would probably say are unrealistic. But with the bond between a father and son, there are no unrealistic goals if you work hard.
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They are there for encouragement and support, and they're there for you all the time. They make huge investments of time, money and effort, and all they hope for is to see their sons be successful. When they are, it's such a beautiful thing. I'm so glad that I was a little part of what happened with David on Saturday. I'm so pleased that Brandon called me on Tuesday night and told me about his win. It was so gratifying for me to be sitting in Victory Circle in Nashville. For someone who has been there before — but it's been a while — it was a beautiful walk down memory lane for me as I stood there and felt the exhilaration, relief and accomplishment of doing something that you worked so hard for. A tip of the helmet to all the dads that are supporting their sons and daughters in order for them to be successful and to see their dreams become a reality.

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