Steve Wallace doesn’t race as often as he once did, saving his efforts for marquee Super Late Model events. One of those events will be this weekend, as Wallace will return to the Winchester Speedway (IN) in hopes of winning the Winchester 400 and firing its signature Winchester rifle trophy.
Wallace joined Speed51’s “The Morning Bullring” on Monday to discuss this weekend’s race, as the former NASCAR Xfinity Series regular prepares for his third appearance in the crown jewel event at the high-banked half-mile.
“Winchester’s a really cool race for us,” Wallace said. “We finished third there last year. We love that race track, it’s a lot like Bristol, it’s very fast, very cool. We’re going to race the same car we raced at Bristol. We’ve been working on our stuff, and we feel like we’re pretty prepared and ready for it.”
While Wallace has competed infrequently in 2019, he finished third in the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) in June. While they are both fast half-mile race tracks and Wallace will be bringing the same car to Winchester this weekend, he says the similarities between the two tracks ends there.
“There are some similarities but the only similarities are that they’re banked and fast. One’s concrete, one’s asphalt. The cool thing about Winchester is it’s so abrasive, so you can race the bottom, race the top. The marbles don’t come into the factor like they do at Bristol. It’s a cool track, being able to race wherever you want on it.”
Wallace understands that the lack of seat time might put him behind the competition in some areas, but he hopes that his years of experience and a strong team around him will help him get up to speed quickly.
“I’d be kidding myself to say I’m not [at a disadvantage]. It’ll be my third race; it’ll probably be Stephen Nasse’s 35thor 40th. I’m not worried about it. It’s like riding a bicycle. The one thing tough with it is staying up to date on your setup stuff, what the tires are feeling like, shocks and springs and so forth. That’s one thing tough with not racing a lot, but I put a lot of it in the hands of Jeff Fultz and the guys at Fury Race Cars.”
Wallace, the 2004 Snowball Derby winner, would love nothing more than to add the Winchester 400 to his resume.
“It would be huge, it would be giant,” he said. “The Winchester 400 is a giant race. We’ve had a good car the past two years. This will be my third time. I feel like the first time I learned a lot. The second time I really learned a lot. I’m hoping this third time, we can go up there, have a good showing, be there in the last 50 laps. That’s all you can do. If you’re there at the end of it, you’ll have a shot at it.
“The track is barbaric in its own right when it comes to part failures, breaking welds, breaking parts, tire clearances and all of that. You’ve got to cross your t’s and dot your i’s. I feel like we’re pretty good in that department.”
Steve’s father, Rusty Wallace, is a former Winchester 400 winner, taking the checkered flag in 1982. The machines competing in the event were very different at the time, but are a testament to the history of the race.
“The cars were totally different. That was before the ABC bodies and spec parts and pieces. The cars were real radical-looking, had big spoilers, real crazy looking Camaro and Firebird noses. It was a different era, man, they ran 12-inch tires. Hell, you hear stories of guys like Mark Martin, my dad, Dick Trickle running so much weight that they didn’t run right-rear springs in the cars.
I couldn’t ever imagine going around Bristol or Winchester without a right-rear spring in my car. It’s really radical stuff.”
The Winchester rifle trophy from 1982 is still proudly displayed in Wallace’s shop. There may be some races like the Snowball Derby that Steve Wallace can hold over his father, but he still holds the elder Wallace’s accomplishments in the highest regard.
“I’ve got that Winchester trophy in my race shop. He’s managed to somehow keep up with it, so it’s in my shop. We occasionally blow it off with an air gun. It’s cool to be able to one-up my dad on some stuff, but he’s one of the best in the world as far as I’m concerned in racing. 55 wins, a Cup championship, hundreds and hundreds of short track races. It’s pretty damn hard to get up on him, I’ll assure you of that.”
This weekend, he hopes to get a matching rifle of his own. He already knows exactly what to do with it.
“I’m hoping to go up there and be able to shoot that son of a b---- off Sunday.”
Race fans unable to make it to Winchester, Indiana this weekend will be able to watch all three days of racing via a live pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com. Visit www.speed51.com/winchester400 today to order your live video ticket.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51photos.com