Kenny Wallace just wants to race. Specifically, he wants to race on dirt. Whenever a hole opens up on his busy NASCAR television schedule, he tries to fill it with the best possible dirt racing event taking place that weekend.
So when he heard about the Renegades of Dirt North Carolina Modified Nationals this upcoming Friday and Saturday night at Friendship Speedway (NC), he jumped at the opportunity. With no sort of television duties to take care of either day and a quick 80-mile trip down the road from Martinsville Speedway (VA), Wallace didn’t think twice about making the trip to chase the $10,000 top prize.
“The stars aligned for me,” Wallace told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “What I mean by that, of course I want to race every dirt race I can, is that the track is only 80 miles exactly from Martinsville, Virginia. I thought, well the Xfinity Series is off this week so I don’t have to do any TV on Friday or Saturday and my TV duties are only Sunday for Race Day and Victory Lane. I thought this would be perfect.
“The only tough part is that my boys have a 14-hour drive from St. Louis, Missouri, but it’s $10,000-to-win and I can get my racing in the way I want to. Who knows? Some of my friends from Martinsville may also come down to watch on Friday and Saturday night also.”
Although Wallace has competed in hundreds of dirt racing events across the country and considers himself to be an “outlaw-style” racer, he has never tackled the 3/8-mile dirt oval located in Elkin, North Carolina.
“I’ve watched some videos,” said Wallace. “I’ve talked to my nephew Steven Wallace who won his first Late Model Stock race there and I’ve talked to Ty Dillon. Everybody knows it for an asphalt track. It’s another one of those tracks that was famous for being asphalt and then they put dirt on it.”
Entering this weekend’s event, which is expected to have a large number of competitors attempting to qualify for 21 starting spots, Wallace has the same mindset he has going into every dirt race he enters.
“I go to any of these dirt races and the number one thing is to make the A-Main and then you worry about the feature later,” said the always personable racer. “In dirt racing you’re vulnerable to all different types of track surfaces. When you race like I do, I’m more of an outlaw racer, so I never know who I’m racing against. I always go to their homes because I’m an outlaw racer and race everywhere across the United States every week. I never get to race locally.”
Heading into this event in particular, Wallace is excited for the atmosphere and the stiff competition he knows he will face this weekend. It’s not often that he would have his team travel 14 hours from St. Louis, but the $10,000 on the line and the hype going into the event made this trip an easy choice.
“I think the atmosphere starts with the competitors,” Wallace stated when asked about what makes the atmosphere for an event like this so special. “If the competitors get excited about an event then the fans get excited, too. I know from a competitor standpoint that I don’t’ ever travel 14 hours for the hell of it. The only time you’ll ever catch me travelling 14 hours out of St. Louis is for Speedweeks and Daytona.
“I’ve raced hundreds of dirt races and I’m in my 10th year, but we have so much racing around the Midwest that I don’t need to go anymore than six hours ever. For my team to travel halfway across the United States, something must be going on. I just think it’s pretty impressive that the Renegades of Dirt have started this East Coast series and have been brave enough to pay $10,000 to win. That got my attention and I think that should get the fans attention also.”
Although Wallace may always be known more for his involvement in the asphalt racing ranks, whether it be for his racing career or his personality on television, there’s no denying his addiction to the sport of dirt racing.
But what is it that makes dirt racing so special to him?
“I’ve run probably 1,500 asphalt races and started racing in 1986 in the asphalt ranks. With that being said, I’m an asphalt racer but one thing I like way more about dirt is that if your car is not handling the way you want to on dirt, you have a lot of options. You’re always looking all over the track. I love asphalt, but with asphalt if your car isn’t handling well you are done. You don’t have options. In dirt racing, you can just try all of these different groves and you’re always trying. I think that’s the biggest thing I love about dirt racing.”
With the stars perfectly aligned this weekend, Wallace will be able to do what he loves to do best.
He’ll be shedding the shirt and dress pants for a fire suit. He’ll be behind the wheel of a race car instead of behind the camera. He’ll be slinging some dirt and doing some dirt racing at the North Carolina Modified Nationals.
“I’m ready for me to race. TV is fun but I’d rather just dirt race the rest of my life.”
To watch Kenny Wallace chase the $10,000 NC Modified Nationals, purchase your 51 TV pay-per-view ticket by clicking here.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Dave Shank Photoworx (via @Kenny_Wallace Twitter)