In September, the former NASCAR champion and current team owner warned if there wasn’t enough money to run his Nationwide Series program, he’d put the shop in mothballs. Unfortunately, that day has come.
Rusty Wallace Inc. is shutting its doors, at least in terms of competition. After word spread of the planned closure, the team issued a release in which it termed the move a "hiatus."
Elements of the business staff will remain in place, in part to assist Steve Wallace explore opportunities for this season and beyond, "with backing from his current RWR sponsors. RWR will continue to maintain and manage those sponsor relationships on Wallace’s behalf."
RWI fielded the Nos. 62 and 66 Toyotas in the Nationwide Series. While he had sponsorship for Michael Annett from Pilot Travel Centers on the No. 62 Toyota, RWI had not secured significant sponsorship to run the No. 66 team for Wallace’s son, Steve. The team said that Annett has been released to pursue other opportunities.
"A lot of teams would have run with the level of funding we have now, but we want to ensure that our team has the resources necessary to compete and to improve our operations," Wallace said. "I promised myself and my family long ago that if the team wasn’t funded to a level with which we were comfortable, we just wouldn’t run it. I’ve worked way too hard to put part of my life savings into a race team.
"So, we collectively decided to take a break, regroup and focus on the future. We’ll keep working hard on sponsorship programs for Steve (Wallace) and for future seasons. This also allows us to focus on the other aspects of our companies and our brand as well, whether it’s our car dealerships, new track design projects, licensing, personal services or even something new.
"Nearly all of our current partners are staying on board with us to support Steve in 2012 and we’re really grateful for their support. We’re working hard on an exciting 2012 program for Steve and hope to have an announcement on his plans soon. We’re all very excited about working with our great group of sponsors both this year and well into the future."
RWI competed in the Nationwide Series for 15 seasons. In 543 starts, the company earned four wins, three with Kenny Wallace behind the wheel and one with Jamie McMurray. RWI attempted one Sprint Cup start with Steven Wallace in the 2011 Daytona 500. Wallace finished 20th.