The stories behind Darrell Waltrip’s first and last cars in NASCAR

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In this edition of 'DW's Car Stories' Darrell Waltrip explains the stories behind the first and last cars he ever drove in NASCAR.

[MUSIC PLAYING] DARRELL WALTRIP (VOICEOVER): I was always a car guy. Cars are very endearing to me, and I loved them. These cars are kind of a accumulation, a collection of stories. It's really about the people that were around me, the people that worked on the cars. They became part of who you were. I just loved the cars and they all were like part of the family.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- That's the first race I ever drove, and this is the last race I ever drove. So that's Alpha over there. And then this is Omega. I decided I wanted to do something special. I thought Kmart, you know, with all their marketing and all their stores, I thought, man, in my final year, it's going to be big. I'm gonna sell a lot of souvenirs, gonna make a lot of money, and I'm going to go out in style. Didn't quite turn out that way.

And I'm 54 years old. And a lot of people made fun of-- because I called it the Victory Tour, I guess they thought I should win a lot that year. But really, it was celebrating the victories that I've had. This was a decent car. I had some pretty good runs in this car, but we just never got the car like I like it. People were writing me off. They said I ought to retire. And so, I finally listened to them and I did. In 2000, I said, maybe they were right!

Hard to believe, man, that I ain't gonna do this no more. This is hard to believe. I have loved this and I've done so much, fought it so hard and so long. It's hard to walk away from.

Me and Jake Elder took his car to the Nashville Fairgrounds. They ran one new site stock car race in '71 or '72. That was against Johncock, the Unsers. We sat on pole and lapped the field in this car. You know the thing about this car? I bought it from Holman Moody. And Jake called down and said, come here a minute. He said, you know what you got here?

I said, well, I got a wrecked car. I know that. And I said, what else? He said the chassis of this car is the chassis that Mario won the Daytona 500 in, in '67, I think it was. Car number 11, ironically. Great car, got me started. Ran my first race at Talladega in 1972. People said, why did you go to Talladega? I said, well, we got the car done. I said, where is the next race? Talladega. So we went.

This was a fun car to drive for me, because I had never run those big racetracks. I had never been to a track the size of Talladega. And so, here I am, I'm a big time cup racer now. And I got my own car. And I'm going out there and competing against Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, and David Pearson. And doing a pretty good job off it.