Once the most hated man in NASCAR, he evolved into a fan favorite
and retired in 2000 tied for third on the alltime victory list,
with 84. At 56 he's winning new fans as Fox's folksy NASCAR
SI: How much fun is talking about a race on TV compared with
Waltrip: TV's more fun because everyone has to listen. I'm
preaching to a 20-million-person choir. Driving, I just had a few
folks in the garage area listening.
SI: You open every race broadcast saying
"boogity-boogity-boogity" as the green flag drops. What's the
story with that?
Waltrip: As kids we'd say, "This car can really boogie." Well,
you can't say boogie-boogie. But boogity-boogity-boogity, it just
SI: In 1964 you set a Kentucky high school record with a 2:02.04
in the 880-yard run. How'd you manage that?
Waltrip: They threw me a hubcap and hollered, "Police!"
SI: When you were growing up in Owensboro, Kentucky, the police
once shot six times at your car. How come?
Waltrip: Me and my buddies were racing the cops, and it got a
little out of hand. I think they were just trying to send me a
message. And trust me, I received the message.
SI: You sometimes break into song in the booth. What's your
favorite on-air ditty?
Waltrip: When Dave Blaney lost his left rear wheel at Atlanta I
went into, "You picked a fine time to leave me, loose wheel."
SI: Do you own one of those shirts saying, i hate warm beer, cold
women and darrell waltrip?
Waltrip: No, but I have a lot that say, anybody but waltrip.
SI: How come the fans gave you such a hard time?
Waltrip: I was a kid from Kentucky who showed up and started
beating on the back bumper of their heroes. Plus, I was just
mouthy. I was rude and obnoxious. Cale Yarborough called me Jaws
because I ate up people. I was a good talker, and they wasn't.
SI: When you won Most Popular Driver in 1989 you said it was your
most important achievement. Why?
Waltrip: I felt I was given a chance to mend fences with fans.
Richard Petty had once said that I would win a lot of races and
break a lot of records, but I'd never be Most Popular Driver.
For more from Darrell Waltrip, go to si.com/scorecard.