FLOWERS: Wallace Racing Team Struggles
Nobody asked me, but I’m here to tell you that if there ever was a man who lived up to his word, it has to be none other than Rusty Wallace of Fenton, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis.
I know of what I speak from personal experience.
In the early ’80s when Wallace started his NASCAR career and was rookie of the year driving for furniture magnate Cliff Stewart of High Point, N.C., Wallace called one day while I was working for Grand National Scene, the forerunner of the recently expired NASCAR Scene.
Wallace said he needed me to write a story for him, seeking a ride since he was having trouble securing a ride for the ensuing season.
I had followed Wallace’s career from the days he drove for Nicky Prejean out of Louisiana and had seen him race several times in various places around the southeast in Bob Harmon’s All-Pro Series. I was convinced NASCAR needed a guy with Rusty Wallace’s capabilities.
Of course, keeping up with Wallace was made ever so easy by the fact Tom Roberts of Guntersville, Ala., was Wallace’s long-time public relations man from sometime in the ’80s until Wallace’s retirement as a driver a few years ago at age 50.
That small, simple story in Grand National Scene attracted the attention of one Raymond Beadle, a renown drag racer from Houston, Texas. Beadle hired Wallace to drive for his No. 28 Blue Max team, located, at the time, out of Derita, N.C., a Charlotte suburb.
The team went on to win a NASCAR championship in 1989 with Barry Dotson as the team’s crew chief and Harold Elliott building motors for the team.
The team Wallace and Beadle put together became known as the team that might have lost a race or two, but it was a team “that never lost a party,” which became Dotson’s favorite saying and the team’s theme.
Wallace went on to drive the No. 2 car, forging one of the most successful owner-driver relationships between Wallace and car owner Roger Penske with Miller Brewing, Co. as the team’s sponsor.
Well, Carnival Cruise Lines put together a winter-time cruise, featuring Wallace, his wife, Patti, mother and father, Judy and Russ, members of the team and other family members.
For three-consecutive years Wallace reserved those cruises for me and made sure I came along, even one year after I had undergone a very serious operation.
Neither one of those cruises cost me one red cent, either.
Rusty Wallace remembered what was done for him early in his career and never forgot his silent promises.
There are some other things Wallace has done, too, which will go unmentioned.
But, believe me, if ever there’s a team that truly needs to succeed it’s the Rusty Wallace Racing team being run by Wallace’s two sons, Greg and Steve, out of Mooresville, N.C.
If for no other reason because Rusty Wallace is truly a man of his word and always will be.