Russell William “Rusty” Wallace is a retired NASCAR race car driver, former NASCAR Winston Cup Champion, and lead auto racing analyst for ABC and ESPN. I first met Rusty in 2005 around the time he broke ground on his “signature” Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. We got to know each other much better in 2006 after ABC and ESPN acquired the rights to broadcast NASCAR races starting in 2007. Together, we hosted sports directors from various ABC stations at the Texas Motor Speedway on November 3-4, 2006. Having dinner with Rusty in the old stockyards area of Fort Worth was like having dinner with a rock star. It served to validate his reputation of being one of the sports most well-known and charismatic personalities.
In December 2007, Rusty and I hosted a private luncheon for Iowa’s Governor at the time, Chet Culver. While it had successfully completed its first full season of racing, Rusty and I discussed how great it would be for the Iowa Speedway to hold a NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Promoted as NASCAR’s “minor league” circuit, it was called the NASCAR Busch Series until the Nationwide Insurance Company took over the naming rights in 2008. The luncheon with the Governor and his economic development team, Nationwide executives (whose company has a big presence in Des Moines), Iowa Speedway officials, and Rusty helped lay the groundwork for the first Nationwide Series race at the Iowa Speedway in August 2009.
In June of 2013, I was honored by the American Diabetes Association of Iowa – along with Dan Houston, Principal Financial Group and Gary Palmer, Prairie Meadows – with a Father of the Year Award. It was made all the more special by the fact that Rusty was a special guest and speaker at the gala dinner.
Rusty is a WINNER who has been inducted into four of stock car racing’s major halls of fame, including the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2013.
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