Last week, NASCAR legend and 1989 Cup Series Champion sat down with NASCAR Ranting and Raving to discuss his involvement with Bank of America and the STEM 500 as part of the NASCAR Foundation’s NASCAR Day.
The full interview touched on Rusty’s broadcasting career as well as the Car of Tomorrow and can be found just after the fold!
NASCAR Ranting and Raving: Hi Rusty, thanks for taking the time to visit with us today. Could you talk a little about the genesis of your partnership with Bank of America and working on the STEM 500?
Rusty Wallace: I’ve done a lot of work with the guys at Bank of America. They are really great people, supportive of our sport and foundations and my brother Kenny has even done a lot of work with them. My whole family banks with Bank of America, so it’s just a really easy transition to work with these guys and I’m really looking forward to it.
NRAR: How important is Math and Science to the modern NASCAR?
Rusty: The sport has changed in several ways over the years and math and science has been at the forefront. It’s all about information and numbers and then applying them in the racing field quicker than your opponents do.
With so many computer simulations and engineering tests taking place every day, we felt this was a special oppurtunity to allow kids to really see how important math is to what we do. It’s so critical to each of the big budget teams like Hendrick, Gibbs and Penske. It really makes the difference between winning races and going out of business.
Looking back, I really wish I had worked harder in refining my math and science skills. It would have made my job as a driver and as a car owner so much easier. There is just so much about these race cars that I don’t understad and it’s due to the math. But I do know that we’ve hired the best in the field here at RWI and it’s my pleasure to watch them work.
NRAR: Does working with middle-schoolers also provide a great chance to build the next generation of NASCAR fans?
Rusty: Absolutely, it does. The NASCAR Foundation has been a great partner in not only having these kids excited about math and science but also in our sport.
These kids get to be the talk of the town over the weekend, and they are going to take so many exciting things home with them. These kids are going to be excited about their academics, math and science but also about NASCAR. It’s a great win-win scenario for all of us involved with the Foundation.
NRAR: What aspects of NASCAR really have you excited moving forward?
Rusty: The new car definitely. Both Cup and Nationwide Cars of Tomorrow have presented a lot of challenges but it’s also been a lot of fun. I think that NASCAR finally has the car it needs to move forward and that represents a lot of positives for the future of our sport.
NRAR: What’s been harder for you to grasp over the years – math and science or broadcasting?
Rusty: Broadcasting definitely. When driving on Sundays, you expect a certain amount of negative feedback and critiques. That’s racing. But what’s suprised me the most when broadcasting is just how many people have an opinion. It’s so polarizing and it’s often a struggle to be able to distance yourself from it and work harder and improve.
I’ve been around the sport for a long time now and it never fails to amaze me just how much research and effort goes into presenting NASCAR on a national telecast. It’s really intense and there’s a lot to learn. That said, I’m having a blast with what I’m doing right now and it’s been a thrill to work with the NASCAR Foundation and with ESPN/ABC.
Rusty Wallace currently serves as a color commentator for ESPN/ABC and is the principle owner of Rusty Wallace Inc.