On Saturday, June 1, the Short Track U.S. Nationals return to Bristol Motor Speedway (TN). For Steve Wallace, it’ll be another chance to add to his family’s legacy at the famed half-mile.
Wallace, the son of nine-time Bristol NASCAR Cup Series winner Rusty Wallace, joined Speed51’s “The Morning Bullring” Tuesday and shared his excitement for returning to “The Last Great Colosseum.”
“I’m really, really excited for Bristol,” Wallace said. “Bristol is a really cool place in my heart and my family’s. My dad has had a lot of success there. I was fortunate enough to race there quite a bit in the Busch Series, won a pole and had some really good runs. There’s just nothing like it, man. It’s just an exciting atmosphere. We’ve built a new car, we’re all ready to go, man.”
While very few drivers have matched or surpassed Rusty Wallace’s success at Bristol – only Darrell Waltrip has more Cup wins at the venue – Steve Wallace has his own accomplishments to boast there. Wallace is a former Bristol winner in the now-defunct UARA STARS Late Model Series.
Still, Wallace is hungry to claim a new Bristol trophy this weekend, especially after having fast cars the last two years at the event.
“The sword would be everything in the world to me,” he stated. “We’ve been going up there the past couple of years. We’ve had really good cars, just some bad luck. Last year, we cooked an alternator wire and the battery went dead with three laps to go running fourth or fifth. That track’s really tough on all your equipment.
“We won this same kind of style race a long time ago,” Wallace added. “I’m talking like I’m old now. They had a really big Late Model Stock race there, and I’ve got the miniature version of the Cup trophy. It would be cool to win that race. It would mean the world to me.”
Despite his vast amount of experience at the high-banked half-mile, Wallace says nothing compares to driving the specially-designed Super Late Models around Bristol.
“I’ve drove Late Model Stocks there, raced the Busch cars there quite a bit,” he said. “The Super Late Models just, on paper, it’s more of a race car. It’s lighter, it has more left-side weight, everything’s just bigger and badder on it. It’s pretty barbaric, put it at that.
“We went there two or three years ago for the first time, I just flew into turn one, and I was waiting on it to roll,” Wallace explained. “Next time, you’re wide open towards the center and just flying. It’s similar to Winchester, the sensation of speed is and whatnot. It’s unlike anything we go to in racing. These cars just fly, they’re just a better race car than a NASCAR-style race car or whatever.”
Some may question Wallace’s wisdom in bringing a brand-new car to Thunder Valley, known for its chaos and carnage. However, he firmly believes that he has to put his best foot forward at every race to have a chance to win.
“Everybody thinks, you’re taking a new car to that track?” Wallace said. “In my theory, you’ve got to take your best bullet everywhere you go, whether it’s Hickory or Bristol. The cars and drivers and teams are so good, you’ve got to put your best bullet in the gun every time you go to the track.”
Wallace’s racing schedule has trimmed down in recent years. He attributes that to a growing family and growing workloads in the real world.
“I’ve got a little girl now. Between building hot rods and Big Wheel Baggers and going home to my little girl, my hands are tied. I’ve been working my butt off and there’s only one of me and so much time in a day. Racing has become a hobby for me. We’ll go to the big races, about seven of them. We’re going to run Bristol, the Winchester 400, the Redbud 400, just focus on those races rather than trying to race every week.
“I’ve been really busy, but we’ve been having a lot of fun.”
Fans who missed “The Morning Bullring” and wish to see the show and Wallace’s interview in its entirety can click here for the on-demand replay of the broadcast. Fans can also visit the Speed 51 Five Star Bodies Facebook Feed to watch the replay of the broadcast.
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-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo