AUSTIN, Texas – Following a triumphant 25-year long racing career, NASCAR Hall of Fame member and former ESPN analyst (2006-2014), Rusty Wallace has often thought he left the competition too early in 2005.
This weekend, at the X Games Austin, Wallace will get back behind the wheel, ending his 10-year racing hiatus – only this time it’s in a 650-horsepower Off-Road Truck. That competition airs Sunday (ABC, 2 p.m. ET).
Front Row chatted with 58-year old Wallace – the second-oldest competitor in X Games history – only John Buffum, X Games 2007, Rally Car Racing, USA, 63 years, 9 months is older* – about his years at ESPN, his exciting return to racing at X Games Austin and more.
What made you pick off-road trucks and X Games for your return to competitive racing?
I’m a big fan of the trucks. I liked watching them compete along with the Indy cars. I like what [Stadium SUPER Trucks founder] Robby Gordon has done with the series and how he’s developed and designed these trucks. So, when I got the offer from ESPN to compete at the X Games in one of the trucks, I went, “Are you kidding me? Hell yeah, I’d love to do that!” Although, before I said yes I got in one and drove it to make sure I was making the right decision. And I felt pretty comfortable.
Have you followed X Games through the years?
I have followed the X Games. It’s exciting as hell to watch. I’m a big fan of it. And with me being an ex-ESPN guy, for nine straight years doing NASCAR, one of my friends, [Vice President, Production] Rich Feinberg, has always kept me up to speed with what’s happening at X Games.
Can you reflect a little on your time at ESPN?
The things I loved so much about ESPN was my first year in 2006 when I was able to call the entire Indy Car series and got to announce my first Indianapolis 500. And then I got to do it again in 2007 and in 2008 to do all of NASCAR from the broadcast booth. Then for them to create NASCAR Countdown and ask me do that show also. They’ve been really kind to me and let me do many different things. All the venues, going up to the ESPN headquarters. . . I can honestly say that it was a lot of really cool people to work with. So, when I got a phone call that they invited me to do X Games, I mean, that was a real honor. They didn’t have to.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The youngest competitor in X Games history was Jagger Eaton, an entry in the 2012 Skateboard Big Air competition at 11 years, 4 months.