Darrell Waltrip (17), gets turned by Rusty Wallace in the 1989 All-Star Race. (NASCAR Photo)

All-Star Flashback: When Rusty Dumped ‘Jaws’ 

Since its inception in 1985, the NASCAR All-Star Race has been a time-honored tradition for the NASCAR Cup Series. 

In the 37-year history of the event, the All-Star Race has given NASCAR some of the sport’s most unforgettable moments. 

One of those moments came in 1989 with a battle between three-time Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip and young hotshot Rusty Wallace. 

The Setup

After the two battled throughout the event with Dale Earnhardt, Ken Schrader and Alan Kulwicki, a 10-lap final segment decided the victor at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

Split into three races, Wallace and Waltrip were tied with segment wins. Wallace notched the first race with a $20,000 bonus, followed by Waltrip’s 50-lap segment win, also earning $20,000. 

The winner of the final segment would collect $200,000.

Waltrip started the final segment from the pole in his No. 17 Chevrolet with Wallace’s No. 27 Pontiac right behind.

The Dump And Run

Hounding the rear bumper of Waltrip for eight straight laps, Wallace was fed up of seeing the orange No. 17 in his way.

Coming to the white flag in turns three and four, Wallace dipped low, watching Waltrip inch down the race track. 

Almost in slow motion, Wallace’s No. 27 Pontiac contacted the left rear of Waltrip’s car, sending the No. 17 spinning through the frontstretch grass. 

Wallace drove on to victory. 

“I went in that last corner for the win and I didn’t lift,” Wallace told SPEED SPORT. “I went for it and I got the god damn money.”

Little did Wallace know, tempers were about to boil over. 

The Aftermath Of Spinning ‘Jaws’

As Wallace made his way to victory lane to receive the $200,000 prize, Wallace’s crew member Todd Parrott gave a linebacker-like shove to one of Waltrip’s crewmen, setting off an all-out brawl in the pits. 

CONCORD, NC - MAY 21:  Driver Rusty Wallace holds his fist up in triumph after winning the 1989 The Winston race on May 21, 1989 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Dozier Mobley/Getty Images)
Rusty Wallace holds his fist up in triumph after winning the 1989 All-Star Race. (Dozier Mobley/Getty Images)

Pandemonium ensued with NASCAR officials breaking up the fight. 

Widely known as ‘Jaws’ for having a reputation of speaking his mind, Waltrip spoke stern words regarding Wallace’s winning move.

“I just hope he chokes on that $200,000,” Waltrip said. “That’s all I can say.”

All of a sudden, Waltrip, who was one of NASCAR’s first true villains, was the hero. It was Wallace who was on the receiving end of the fans’ boos. 

“It was a hell of a deal. I’ll never forget when I won the race, I pulled into victory lane. The fans were so mad at me because I spun Darrell Waltrip out,” Wallace recalled.

“One of the things you do, they take you up to the Speedway Club and introduce you to all the Speedway Club people, because that was a brand-new club back then. 

“I was getting threatened with a lot of things, so they put me in an ambulance and snuck me out of the race track and took me up to the Speedway Club.”

Wallace quickly realized it wasn’t going to be a warm welcome at the Speedway Club either. 

“When I got to the Speedway Club, everybody booed me, which was so horrible,” Wallace said. “Then they put me back in the ambulance and took me to my house.”

Back at his home, Wallace was greeted by an unlikely trio of people — security guards. 

“I had three armed security guards watch me all night long because they thought the fans were going to kill me that night, because they were so mad at me because I spun Darrell Waltrip out,” Wallace said.

Wallace remembers a conversation with his daughter that occurred that night.

“My daughter (Katie) came up to me in the middle of the night, she was only like eight years old at the time, and said, ‘Daddy, there’s police officers downstairs what’s going on?’ 

“I said, ‘Katie, it’s a long story I’ll tell you later,’” Wallace said with a laugh. “So I went through all hell with that deal.”

When the green flag waves at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway on Sunday, it’ll be the 34-year anniversary of Wallace and Waltrip’s scuffle. As he looks back on a wild day at the 1.5-mile oval, Wallace assured that the hatchet has been buried between the two legendary racers. 

“Darrell and I are great friends right now. We were mad as hell at each other for a while there,” Wallace admitted. “But we’re really good buddies right now.

“It was just a part of my career that was exciting and crazy.”