The Daytona 500 means a lot to many people. Michael Waltrip is no different.
His love for the race began with a road trip to the 1975 running to see his older brother, Darrell, compete. Michael was 11 at the time.
Four decades have passed since. Michael Waltrip would experience the greatest joy and deepest sorrow in the event – two victories in 2001 and 2003, but also, the loss of team owner and friend, Dale Earnhardt Sr., in a last-lap crash during the 2001 race.
As Waltrip prepares to race in his 28th Daytona 500 in place of Brian Vickers (who is recovering from December heart surgery), he has put down thoughts on what this particular race has meant to him in a column for the Associated Press. Here’s a clip of that:
I remember driving through that tunnel for the first time, seeing those high banks, just soaking in the enormity of the facility and the fact that all my racing legend heroes had won there. It is a feeling that never leaves you and it is what makes the Daytona 500 so intimately special to me.
My career defining moments happened there.
My greatest wins.
One of my greatest losses.
Deep emotions, Daytona stirs them all.
Michael writes about Vickers and his determination to stay competitive despite health woes in recent years, as well as his own beliefs that Michael Waltrip Racing can contend for the win on Feb. 22.
For more of Michael’s thoughts, go to the link above.