BRISTOL, Tenn. – After 19 years as a broadcaster on NASCAR television broadcasts, Darrell Waltrip has confirmed he is calling it a career.
Waltrip, a three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion during a driving career that spanned 29 years, confirmed in an interview with The Tennessean Thursday that he’ll end his broadcast career when he calls his last race for FOX on June 23 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.
“I could’ve waited until Charlotte or somewhere else down the road, but it’s been hanging over my head,” Waltrip told The Tennessean. “I just wanted to clear the air, let people know what my plans are and then other people can make plans accordingly. Like who’s going to take my place or is somebody going to take my place?”
Waltrip ended his NASCAR driving career at the end of the 2000 season when he made the last of 809 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The following season he joined FOX as an analyst, a position he has held for the last 19 years.
His first race as a broadcaster for FOX was a memorable one, for good and bad reasons. He got to watch his younger brother, Michael Waltrip, drive to victory in the 2001 Daytona 500. It was overshadowed, however, by a crash on the last lap of the race that would ultimately claim the life of seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt.
At 72 years old, Waltrip’s trademark “Boogity, boogity, boogity” phrase that he exclaims at the start of every race he covers has become his calling card.
Waltrip said he plans to spend more time with family following his retirement. His daughter Jessica gave birth to his granddaughter 14 months ago and he admitted that served as a wakeup call.
“A big wake-up call for me was when our first grandchild was born 14 months ago and I would come and go and it was just like when I’d watched my girls grow up,” Waltrip said. “They grew up at the racetrack and they were grown and married before I hardly knew it.”
Beyond spending time with his family, the 84-time NASCAR Cup Series race winner has not announced any addition plans for his future.
“Darrell has been the heart and soul of the FOX NASCAR booth since day one, so it’s incredibly bittersweet to know this is his final season,” said Eric Shanks, FOX Sports CEO & Executive Producer. “DW’s unmatched charisma and passion helped FOX Sports build its fan base when we first arrived at Daytona in 2001, and he has been the cornerstone of our NASCAR coverage ever since. We look forward to celebrating DW at Sonoma.”