Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sundays Will Never Be the Same: Darrell Waltrip

Credit: Amanda Ebersole/Skirts and Scuffs 
Whether you know Darrell Waltrip as the announcer or as "Jaws," the overly-animated racecar driver, I can guarantee you that reading Sundays Will Never Be the Same is going to give you a new level of respect for Waltrip. 

Waltrip, a 3-time Winston Cup champion, had quite a struggle to the top. From his teenage years rebelling against authority and outrunning the cops chasing him to having the elite of NASCAR chasing him, "DW" proved he was a born racer.

Waltrip became a bit more grounded when he met "the redhead" Stevie Rader. Stevie and Darrell came from two different worlds - Darrell a son of a working class, blue collar family; Stevie's father was a well to do business man who did not approve of their relationship. Marriage opened Waltrip up to new things, including showing him the path of religious faith.

The Waltrip seen on track in NASCAR was known to be a bit of a bigmouth, thus earning the nickname "Jaws" from Cale Yarborough. Darrell's mouth was constantly flapping. Rightfully so. While he talked a mean game to his competitors, he could back it up with his performance. The nickname of "Jaws" could also be applied to Waltrip's driving style - he was a shark on track. He even lost a friendship with Bobby Allison, all in the name of competitive racing. Friends or not, only wins counted!

The part of the book that hit hardest for me and brought me to tears was Waltrip's recollection of "the day." February 18, 2001 was the dawn of a new era for Waltrip. After hanging up his firesuit in 2000, the 2001 Daytona 500 was his first time in the booth for FOX Sports with the "dream team" of broadcasters: long-time crew chief Jeff Hammond, Larry McReynolds and Mike Joy. FOX had spared no expense to get the best. Brother Michael was also looking for a fresh start. The legendary Dale Earnhardt had just signed him as the newest driver for Dale Earnhardt Inc. and his future was shining bright as he anticipated his debut with the team.

It was the storybook ending that Darrell and Mikey had dreamed of. In the style of Ned Jarrett calling his son Dale home to victory, Darrell got to call his brother to victory in what was a new beginning for both.

     "Keep it low, Mikey. Keep it low. Don't let 'em under ya. Take that back straightaway wide, buddy. Get all over the place! Don't let 'em run up on ya! C'mon man! Watch that mirror, watch 'im!
     He's going to make a run inside. Block him! Block him! Attaboy! You got 'im Mikey! You got 'im!"

As that was happening, "it" was also happening. Dale Earnhardt's tragic, fatal crash in Turn 4 on the last lap. Caught up by his Mikey's win, Waltrip only became aware of the harsh reality as he left the booth to the escorted to victory lane. And thus, Sundays Will Never Be the Same.

Waltrip's gripping account of the aftermath had me in tears. From reading how Richard Childress had to be hospitalized overnight to drivers huddling together in tears, I was overcome with emotions. Hearing of Mikey's reaction afterwards had me sobbing even worse because the best day of his life had turned into the worst day of his life. I had also read In the Blink of an Eye but reading the details through big brother's eyes was compelling.

Waltrip's book covers everything: from racing to his personal life and everything in between, it's something every fan of NASCAR, past and present, should read to learn more about this undisputed NASCAR legend and 2012 Hall of Fame inductee.

Amanda Ebersole brings the readers of Skirts and Scuffs interviews and insight into the people who make NASCAR the sport we all love. Besides interviews, Amanda also writes her column In the Rearview Mirror and co-hosts Skirts and Scuffs Happy Hour Mondays at 9pm ET Catch up on all Amanda's writing by clicking here. Feel free to contact Amanda via Twitter or e-mail.  

6 comments :

I would love to have a book that DW wrote,,,
that would be awesome,,,,Is there goin to be
like a free contest, were we could win one?
A little short on cash right now,, but, really,
that would be a great read,, bigest fan......
How could I forget to say this,,, lets go racin boys..
..................................................

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Please don't visit the site if you're going to leave cruel comments like that. Our readers have more class than that. Thanks.

Having watched that DAYTONA 5000 in 2001 , Daryl was aware of the HARSH REALITY and was concerened about Dale , he said " I hope Dale is Ok " prior to removing his headset.

Waltrip knew of the crash, yes you are correct, but not the severity of it until he left the booth to join Mikey in victory lane.

Book was very good i just wish he did not use the same pictures that he had in his last book

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