After nearly two decades, Darrell Waltrip will walk away from broadcasting. In an interview with The Tennessean, the three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee announced he would retire from his current role at Fox Sports as colour commentator, a position he has held since 2001.
“This is 60 years of my life I’ve devoted to this sport one way or the other and ever since I was 12 years old I’ve been holding on to something,” he stated. “I held onto a dream that someday I might be really successful at racing and that dream came true. When I went into the TV booth, I was holding onto that microphone thinking that maybe someday I could be considered one of the best broadcasters there’s ever been.
“So I’ve always been holding onto something. At some point in your life you have to say enough’s enough.”
Shortly after ending his driving career, Waltrip joined Fox when the network acquired rights to air NASCAR races in 2001. In the years since, he established himself as one of NASCAR’s most popular announcers, with fans familiarised by his trademark “Boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racing!” slogan before races.
In the article, Waltrip explained factors that contributed to his decision included wanting to spend more time with his family, especially granddaughter Luisa, and Fox’s addition of four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon in the booth.
“Jeff Gordon coming along beside of me has just made me aware of what I know I know — that I’m old school,” he commented. “I grew up in this sport in one era and Jeff grew up in a totally different era. When he talks to the drivers they talk a different language than I ever talked. When he relates to the drivers he relates to them in a different way than I do.
“And so it just became obvious to me it’s a young man’s sport. I’m not a young man anymore.
Fox will not announce Waltrip’s successor until the summer. His last race will be at Sonoma Raceway on FS1 on 23 July.
“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,” Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks said in a network release. “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.”