Rusty Wallace is a former NASCAR champion, NASCAR Busch Series car owner, and television broadcaster with the Walt Disney Company.Other links relevant in this story:
In the late 70's prior to joining the NASCAR circuit, Wallace made a name for himself racing around the Midwest winning a pair of local track championships. Rusty won more than 200 short track races. In 1979 he won United States Auto Club's (USAC) Rookie of the Year honors while competing against the likes of A.J. Foyt and other racing legends. In 1983 he won the American Speed Association (ASA) championship while competing against some of NASCAR's future stars like Mark Martin, 1992 NASCAR Champion Alan Kulwicki and Dick Trickle.
Wallace finished second in his first NASCAR race at Atlanta in 1980. Wallace joined the Winston Cup circuit full-time in 1984, winning NASCAR Rookie of the Year honors and finishing 14th in the final points standings. He raced in the #88 Gatorade Pontiac for Cliff Stewart.
In 1986 he switched teams to the #27 Alugard Pontiac for Raymond Beadle. Rusty's first win came on April 6, 1986, at Bristol Motor Speedway. Bristol would also eventually become the site of his 50th career NASCAR win. In 1987 reached a new sponsorship, and his early career is most remembered for his #27 Kodiak Pontiac. He dominated at short tracks and road courses.
By 1989, Wallace had won the NASCAR Winston Cup Championship, beating out close friend and fierce rival Dale Earnhardt by twelve points.
In 1990, Raymond Beadle switched sponsors, to Miller Genuine Draft. That association lasted one year, before Wallace took the sponsorship with him to Roger Penske/Penske Racing, and he continued in the #2 MGD Pontiac. He also won the 1991 IROC championship.
While 1992 only carried him one win, the win at the Miller 400 was satisfying; it was the first win for Rusty in a car which arguably was Rusty's best known chassis for his career, one affectionly known as "Midnight" after the win. "Midnight" would be raced for six seasons, carrying various race wins, before being retired in 1997.
1993 was arguably his most successful season. He won 10 of the 30 races, but finished second in the final points standings, 80 points behind Earnhardt. He ended the season strong, finishing in the Top-3 in all but two of the final ten races of the season (4th and 19th).
Penske switched to Ford Motor Company in 1994.
In 1997, Miller changed the teams sponsorship to Miller Lite, replacing the black and gold with a blue and white scheme.
In 2003, Penske Racing switched to Dodge, and appropriately, in 2004, Wallace won his 55th, and final, race on a short track: the 2004 spring Martinsville Speedway race. It was also the last win for the track under the ownership of the H. Clay Earles Trust; the death of Mary Weatherford (matriarch of the trust) forced the Trust to sell the track a month later.
On August 30, 2004 Wallace announced that the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season would be his last as a full-time driver. However, he may continue to run a limited schedule after the 2005 season -- as semi-retirees Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte also have done.
In 2006, Wallace returned to his Pontiac roots when he raced a Crawford-Pontiac sportscar, painted black and carrying the familiar stylised #2, also sponsored by Callaway Golf, in the 24 hours of Daytona at Daytona, teamed with Danica Patrick and Allan McNish.
To date, Rusty had 55 NASCAR wins, which is tied for 8th on NASCAR's all-time wins list. He retired after the 2005 season with a 14.4 career average finish.
On January 25, 2006, it was announced that Rusty will cover auto racing events for The Walt Disney Company family of networks. Despite Rusty's lack of open-wheel racing experience, his assignments will begin with the IRL and include the Indianapolis 500. He is expected to join the NASCAR broadcasting team for Disney when the company's networks return to the sport in 2007, including the prestigious Chase for the Nextel Cup.
He also owns and operates Rusty Wallace, Inc., which fields the Callaway Golf Products #64 NASCAR Busch Series car driven by Jamie McMurray and his son Steve Wallace.
Rusty's two brothers, Kenny and Mike, also currently race on the NASCAR circuit. Rusty and his wife Patti have three children -- Greg, Katie, and Steve and now live on a large ranch outside Charlotte, N.C.
Off the track, Wallace is an avid pilot, owning several airplanes and a helicopter.