Michael Waltrip finds a lot of special meaning in the upcoming debut NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway.
Waltrip will return to the series for the event, driving his team’s No. 15. The team owner competes on a part-time basis in the Cup series this season. A native of Owensboro, Ky., Waltrip and sponsor Aaron’s have decided to make the trip home even more memorable.
Waltrip will use his entry to celebrate the election of his brother, Darrell Waltrip, to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He’ll race with an orange-and-white paint scheme similar to the Terminal Transport car Darrell drove to his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at Nashville Speedway in 1975. His Kentucky paint scheme also includes a photo of the Nashville Victory Lane celebration on each of the car’s rear quarterpanels and a picture of his brother, also taken at Nashville, on the hood.
“What a great photo! And, I was there! Seeing it still makes me smile,” said Michael Waltrip, who was 12 when he watched his older brother’s win. “This was when all the winning started and led Darrell to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. What a happy group we were. So many people who helped him are in it, including my grandparents.
“I had never seen a man so happy. I have always idolized my brother, and because of him racing is all I ever wanted to do. It is truly special for our family that I will be able to honor him by driving this paint scheme at the first Sprint Cup race in our home state of Kentucky.”
The brothers have remained close throughout their careers, with Michael Waltrip often speaking of watching his brother climb through the ranks. He followed the three-time champ as both a driver and an owner in the Cup series.
“I know Darrell, and I know his story,” Michael Waltrip said. “I know how he started. He was about 12 years old (as the family was) driving by a go-kart race in a parking lot in Owensboro, Ky. He was just mesmerized. It was all he could think about.
"He somehow talked my dad into buying a go-kart. He said he would mow yards to pay for the go-kart. My dad bought that story and then bought Darrell the go-kart. I don’t think many yards got mowed, but that was the start to the road that led Darrell to where he is today, the NASCAR Hall of Fame.”