Q&A - Mike Wallace

Thursday, July 18, 2002

Mike Wallace, part of a racing family that includes brothers Rusty and Kenny, has won on the Busch, Craftsman Truck and ARCA levels, but cut his teeth on dirt tracks throughout Missouri in the 1980s and early '90s. Between racing Saturday in a Busch Series event and Sunday in a Winston Cup race, Mike stopped by SEMO Motor Speedway near Sikeston, Mo., to sign autographs and answer questions about his racing roots.

Question: How many people have told you tonight, "Mike, I remember when I used to go up and watch you race late models on St. Louis dirt tracks?"

Mike: About the fourth person I talked to tonight said that. The nice part about coming back to Missouri is that this is such a big race area. With the type of racing we grew up doing, you get to meet great people. The whole family -- me, Rusty, Kenny -- have been fortunate to get some good opportunities after that.How often do you get to jump back into a car and go dirt racing?

Mike: Not often at all, not like I'd like to, mostly because so much of our focus is on Winston Cup and Busch racing right now. The sponsor commitments take a lot of time, too, and you don't have a lot of time to do what you'd like. Guys like Tony Stewart are single and they go racing a lot, so they have it good in ways.Do you look at dirt racing as something that you've done and succeeded at and put behind you?

Mike: I don't want to say it's in my past. I'd still enjoy it. You run the short tracks and dirt tracks to get to the next level. Would I like to go back and do it and have fun? Sure. Does it pay as well as racing Winston Cup and Busch? No. We race for the fun of it, but it's nice to make a little money at it, too.So the days of racing for $700 to win at a short track are still fresh in your memory?

Mike: I used to do it on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays every week at Belleville, St. Charles, Pevely, all those short tracks. I really respect the guys who have done it and still do it.

-- Jamie Hall

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