Rusty Wallace staying busy away from the track
June 03, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- His days of charging off into the first turn, hell-bent and hammer down, have ended but Rusty Wallace, NASCAR's 1989 Cup champion, manages to keep moving at a pretty fast clip these days.
"Hey, how ya doing? Good to see you," says Wallace, smiling broadly as he greeted another guest that had materialized here at Trump National Golf Club on this warm sunny morning.
The scene repeated itself often, whether by the bag drop or behind the clubhouse where a sizeable selection of breakfast foods had been laid out.
Dressed in dark slacks and golf shirt, Wallace mingled seamlessly with guests -- current and former NASCAR drivers, NFL players, pro golfers from the LPGA's Symetra tour, and a host of area businessmen.
All had arrived to participate in the inaugural Rusty Wallace Golf Classic, a charitable event raising funds for the NASCAR Foundation.
"We've built race cars and auctioned them off at Barrett-Jackson to raise money for the Foundation, have done a few different things like that," Wallace said. "And then a buddy of mine that I met through my association with Callaway and Top Flite came up with the idea of a golf tournament."
Wallace, who has been on the Foundation's board since 2006, said all of the money raised through the tournament, held May 21, "is going directly to the foundation.
"We've had some big supporters, a lot of sponsors. Oakley has really gotten involved. (NASCAR team co-owner) Felix Sabates has been unbelievable -- he bought some of the foursomes and brought some of his (dealership's) Bentleys out here."
It's been eight years since Wallace climbed from a stock car for the last time. He finished 13th in the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2005, leaving him eighth in points for the season.
Few drivers have stepped away any closer to the top.
A standout on the short tracks and road courses, Wallace won 55 times in Cup, a total that remains ninth best overall. He was involved in incredible finishes and unforgettable wrecks. He earned his championship while driving for drag racing owner/driver Raymond Beadle, but spent the bulk of his career and enjoyed most of his success with team owner Roger Penske.
Wallace was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2013.
Today, he stays busy with numerous business interests. Chief among them are the car dealerships -- Wallace owns six -- in East Tennessee. A seventh is underway.
"Brad Daugherty and I just became partners in a new Hyundai dealership in Knoxville (Tennessee)," said Wallace, who has been in the business for more than two decades.
"It's coming out of the ground in about six months," he said. "Between that and working full time for ESPN (as an auto racing analyst), those are my main deals."
Wallace also has a personal services agreement with Iowa Speedway, which was recently purchased by NASCAR. "I love that track," he said. "Everybody knows that."