Racing beat

Rusty Wallace unveiled the car he drove in 2005, his final season in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series.

The 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup series marked “Rusty’s Last Call,” the career-ending campaign for one of the series’ most legendary drivers. The Wallace motorsports tradition will be carried on by his brothers, Mike and Kenny, and the trio talked about their life in racing during a recent interview.

The trio credit their parents with helping them chase their asphalt dreams – and achieve them.

“Dad was always actively involved in working on his own cars, building his own cars, designing them, welding, doing all kind of trick things,” Rusty says. “He was one of the most successful area racers in St. Louis and down in Springfield, Ill., and over at Granite City, Ill., on the dirt. Dad just won everything in the world. I think he got us brothers working on the cars and understanding how to work on them and being very mechanically inclined.

“A lot of the new guys, the fathers take them to the track and they learn to drive the cars. They really don’t get involved in working on them and understanding them. I think that’s one big thing Dad did for us.”

Not living up to the “family tradition” inspired Kenny.

“I would say the fear of failure is what my dad taught me as the younger brother,” Kenny says. “That’s what I remember. You know, my dad won 11 or 12 weeks in a row at Tri-City Speedway. And when we did finish second, I remember as a kid it was very quiet and we just did not understand why we lost.

“And from then on, I guess you could say, the family side of it, my mom I guess gave me my personality of being a little wild and crazy. So my dad, you know, he was the one that if you didn’t win, there was something wrong. That still lives today.”

For Mike, just growing up around the sport helped him grow into it.

“From my side, the whole thing just revolved around us growing up in a sport again that my dad did in St. Louis,” Mike says. “My mom even ran Powder Puff races. From the age we were big enough to get in a truck and follow them to the racetrack, we had a lot of fun family time. Kenny actually revisited our whole lifestyle this past Christmas, made a nice video of it, about my dad racing in Missouri, Tri-City, all these places. It brought back a lot of really fond memories.”

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Mike says his brothers Rusty and Kenny learned their lessons well. “Rusty can rattle off numbers that are unbelievable. If you understand his high school years, you couldn’t believe he could be that smart on his race cars today, but he’s very successful at it.”

While Rusty was making a name for himself in NASCAR, Kenny and Mike tried to follow in his footsteps racing in St. Louis. It wasn’t always easy.

“We traveled incredible amounts,” Kenny says. “It was nothing for us to leave on a Friday evening and be in Canada at 6 o’clock the next morning. We had to work extra hard. So it was a little aggravating loving racing so much and growing up in a town that at the time just didn’t back it.”

While Kenny and Mike have plenty of years to win races and add to the Wallace legend, Rusty is pleased that his final campaign has been, for the most part, a success.

“I’m having a great year this year,” he says. “There have been a lot of top 10 finishes and a second