Use it or lose it

BY Darrell Waltrip • December 13, 2008

But, anyway, let me know what you think, and we can just go off of the numbers. It's been 70 percent to 30 percent every year since I've been doing it. I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you. I love my e-mails. I love my website. I love the fact that people read it. I love the fact that you give me your opinions. It's actually helped me get through the last six months because, as you've probably noticed, I haven't been doing a whole lot.

Oh, by the way...

... I was thinking about some of the older drivers, Ricky Rudd and Ward Burton in particular, coming back. I'll be 60 years old on Feb. 5, and I'm proud of my age because I don't feel 60. I still want to race at 60. I'm pretty proud of my old friend James Hylton for getting a shot at running Daytona, and I have no idea how old he is. But I know he's a lot older than I am. (Editor's note: Hylton turned 72 on August 26.)

I can understand guys not wanting to walk away. This sport gets a hold of you, and it just doesn't seem to want to let go. You never argue that you can't still do it. When I think about driving in another race, I can only remember how much fun it was. I can only remember how great it felt to win. I can only remember the great times that I had hanging out with Jeff Hammond and the crews. It was the most fun I ever had in my life. That's all I can remember.

I don't remember the rotten days when the car was junk, and I was struggling. Or the days it was absolutely the most miserable time of my life. I just wipe those things out of my mind. I only remember how it was when it all went my way so I can understand guys not wanting to get out and guys wanting to get back in. I want to get back in a car every year. I can't tell you the emptiness that I feel inside as I watch my brother get ready for Daytona with three Cup teams and a Busch car while I'm doing research on drivers.

Ask DW

Don't get me wrong. I'm not putting my job down. I love my job, and I'm blessed to be able to do what I do. But there's an emptiness as I get ready to go to Daytona without a team, a car and a chance to do what I love to do. You know why? I can only remember winning the Daytona 500 in 1989. I don't remember getting hurt at the track in 1990 or barrel-rolling down the back in 1991.

When Ricky Rudd drove in relief of Tony Stewart at Dover, crew chief Greg Zipadelli called him and told him he'd been nabbed for speeding out of the pits. Rudd said, "Now I remember why I wanted to get out of this sport. There was no way I was speeding!" Drivers need to balance those thoughts with the wonderful times. It helps me make a rational decision.

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