From the Vault: Rusty Wallace's Big Day
by Daniel J. Simone, Ph.D. March 26, 2021
Hall of Famers Shine Thirty Years Ago At Bristol
The NASCAR Hall of Fame has more than 500,000 images in its permanent collection. Over time, many of these photos will find their way into exhibits and/or the museum’s many digital interactives. Let’s go back to the Valleydale Meats 500 held on April 14, 1991 at Bristol International Speedway with a sampling of images from the collection.
A Pack of Superstars
This photo features six drivers with 218 NASCAR premier series victories between them. Leading the way is Dale Earnhardt (2010) winner of 76 races and seven championships. Up next is eventual race victor Rusty Wallace (2013), a 55-time winner. Slotted behind is NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Ricky Rudd followed by Davey Allison (2018). They posted 23 and 19 triumphs, respectively. Rounding out this impressive group is Alan Kulwicki (2019), the 1992 series champion, who tallied five wins in his all-too-brief career, and Mark Martin (2017) who drove into victory lane on 40 occasions.
Wilson and Rudd Were a Formidable Combo
Waddell Wilson (2020), pictured on the far right, served as Ricky Rudd’s crew chief from 1990-1991. They combined for two wins and 17 top fives in that span, including a fifth in this event. Rudd, driving for car owner Rick Hendrick (2017), also picked up five bonus points for leading the most laps (154) and left Bristol with the championship points lead after six races in the 1991 season.
Davey Has A Good Day
Davey Allison (2019) streaks past the start-finish line in his Robert Yates (2018) Racing Ford Thunderbird, en route to a third-place finish. The Alabama Gang racer nearly followed up his spring win from Bristol the previous year and ran strong throughout the event, leading 45 laps.
Two characteristics always associated with Bristol are seen here, as Dale Earnhardt (2010), Ernie Irvan, and Ricky Rudd prepare for a restart. Note the tire marks gracing the side panels of each car and a massive crowd watching the beating and banging—without an empty seat to be seen.
Rusty Gets His First for The Captain
In 1991, Rusty Wallace (2013) began competing for Roger Penske (2019) in the iconic no. 2 Miller Genuine Draft-sponsored Pontiac. It did not take long for the duo to reach victory lane, but their first win together had some drama. Wallace started from the pole but ran into trouble, falling two laps down at one point. However, crew chief Jimmy Makar and his team provided a speedy and durable car, and Wallace would not be denied. He fought off a vicious last-lap charge by Ernie Irvan to take the checkers by roughly one foot. Here Wallace is pictured with his jubilant team.