On the kitchen island. In the office, to use as a Zoom background. Tucked away in the “Wally room.” On the floor, to use as a doorstop.
While every NHRA driver initially receives his or her hard-earned Wally at the drag strip, once they reach home, the winning trophies often wind up in unique, and sometimes peculiar, locations.
Chief among odd destinations is the floor in Ron Capps’ house.
“It’s embarrassing,” the three-time Funny Car champion said. “I’ve got a majority of them in our home office, and I actually have a few of them in the kids’ rooms — they’re actually doorstops. And then I have them spread out in our game room as well.”
Of the 76 he’s earned, it’s typically the most recent Wally he’s most fond of.
To no one’s surprise, Matt Hagan has his Wallys tucked away in a “man cave.”
But with 47 in his possession, he’s running out of room — one of the best problems an NHRA racer can have, according to the Tony Stewart Racing driver.
“In the moment, you never know what you’re going to do with them,” Hagan said.
His pair of Wallys from Bandimere Speedway are two that he’s clung tight to, as the Colorado drag strip will no longer be on the NHRA schedule moving forward.
But more than that, all 47 trophies serve a specific purpose for Hagan.
“You go through and knock the dust off them every now and then and just remember what you’ve done and what you are capable of,” Hagan said. “Those things, you can’t buy. There are people out here that are multi-millionaires and they’ve never won a Wally.”
Antron Brown has two places to store his prize possessions.
“Ever since we started AB Motorsports, we keep them at the shop, so all the guys and the team can always touch them and see them on the shelf,” the Top Fuel racer said. “At my house, I keep them in a trophy room at my pole barn.”
By pole barn, Brown means the 6,000-square-foot personal workshop where he stores his kids’ race cars, awards and cardboard checks alongside his own.
“And then, I have the ‘Wally room,’” Brown said.
There’s one from Dallas, Texas, in 1999 when Brown earned his first Pro Stock Motorcycle win that’s on prime-time display. Another from his first Top Fuel win in Houston, Texas, in 2008. Five from the NHRA U.S. Nationals — three in Top Fuel and two in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Along with over 60 more.
“What people don’t realize is that it’s more than just an award. It’s more than just a trophy. When you look at the Wally, it stands for excellence and what your team had to execute that weekend to make it happen. They had to be flawless,” Brown said.
“When you get it, it gives you a memento to have all those memories wrapped up into that award. I could tell you the story of every single one of them in my shop.”
Pro Stock’s Camrie Caruso only has one Wally to display — from her triumph at the Arizona Nationals earlier this year — so she keeps it where she can see it often.
“I keep it on my kitchen island, because that’s what life is — it’s racing. You’ve just gotta keep them where you can see them every day,” Caruso said.
Gaige Herrera hasn’t settled on a permanent location to store his Wallys quite yet. It’s fair to give the Pro Stock Motorcycle rookie a pass, as he’s only in his first full season competing in NHRA and has already collected a staggering six wins.
“My very first Wally I won is in my bedroom, and the rest of them are down in my basement. I guess it’s kind of like my game room — it’s got pictures of all my racing throughout my career so far, so it’s just down there,” Hererra said.
After dreaming about competing in NHRA’s motorcycle class for most of his life, Hererra finds it easy to name his first career Wally, which he earned at the season opener in Gainesville this year, as the most meaningful.
Meanwhile, Top Fuel’s Justin Ashley has put his 11 trophies to good use, virtually speaking.
“I keep my Wallys in my office for the background. I figured with as much Zoom-ing as I’m doing, it’s probably the best background I could have,” Ashley said.
He ranks the trophy from his Winternationals victory in Pomona, Calif., last year at the top, as it was his first race with primary sponsor Phillips Connect and Toyota.
“That was a foundation, a starting point for our program to help get it to the next level,” Ashley explained. “So that one kind of stands alone. That was a cool one.”
Austin Prock has elected to display his four Wallys on the living room mantel beneath his TV. Why?
“I keep them there because I haven’t won enough to get a whole shelf yet,” said the John Force Racing Top Fuel driver. “It definitely makes you hungry when you walk by them.”
Eight-time Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher has only kept 10 Wallys of the 86 he’s earned.
“I don’t need 86 of them at the house — they all look the same,” Schumacher said with a smile.
But while they look the same, they have varying meanings to the 53-year-old.
“To be the champion (in 2006), we had to win the race and set the national record. And we did. So that Wally sits on my shelf,” the esteemed Schumacher said. “Every time we’re struggling, it reminds me of the adversity, because what made that run great wasn’t the run itself — it was how behind we were and what we did to catch up.
“Every time you look at that one, you think, we can get through adversity because we did it that year, and we’ve done it several years since.”