By Mark Ellis, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (ANS — March 8, 2017) — Before he retired from racing and became a broadcaster, NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip was one of the winningest drivers in the modern era. For a time, he was also one of the most unpopular drivers — someone people loved to hate.
“My passion was racing and quite honestly I went at it all the wrong ways in the early years,” Waltrip told the 2016 National Prayer Breakfast. “I was just as aggressive off the racetrack as I was on. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I didn’t think I really needed friends.”
He was the driver with the loyal un-fan base. “They said I was brash, ruthless, pushy, cocky, conceited, aloof, boastful, arrogant, and downright annoying – and those were people that liked me.”
The fans booed him when the drivers were introduced. Fans wore ‘Anybody but Waltrip’ tee shirts to the track. “They hated me,” Waltrip admitted. “The drivers despised me.”
Richard Petty once turned to him and said, “I don’t know how you can get a sponsor, you’re so unpopular with the fans.”
Waltrip also liked to argue with the officials at NASCAR. “I didn’t like the rules, mainly because they never worked in my favor,” he said.
Off the track, he wasn’t much better. “I was so arrogant. I drank too much. I liked to go to the bars and hang out. I did everything to satisfy me.”
Waltrip was also married to a woman of faith named Stevie. “Stevie would always pray for me,” he said. “She was a godly woman who loved the Lord and she always prayed that someday, somehow we would get involved in a Bible study or church.”
When she needled him about going to church, he said, “I race on Sundays. I don’t have time to go to church. I’m busy all through the week. I just don’t have time for this church stuff and God stuff…”
“Well I’ll just keep on praying,” she replied.
Photo captions: 1) Winning the Daytona 500. 2) The 1983 crash. 3) Mark Ellis.
About the writer: Mark Ellis is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), and is also the founder of www.GodReports.com, a website that shares testimonies and videos from the church around the world to build interest and involvement in world missions. Previously, Mark co-hosted a TV show called “Windows on the World” with ANS Founder, Dan Wooding, aired on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv/), which is now co-hosted by Dr. Garry Ansdell, Senior Pastor of Hosanna Christian Fellowship in Bellflower, California.
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