The Waltrips were well acquainted with racing fever prior to the birth of their youngest edition.Darrell, who is sixteen years Michael's senior, had started his racing career with go-karts four years before Michael came onto the scene.
I'm going to be out winning races and championships along the way, and if you can't take your last name and make it on your own, then you don't want it bad enough, and you don't deserve it.' I think that was his philosophy.
So, I learned real fast that he wasn't helping me any, so I never expected it and I tried to learn to make it without him." Michael saved up the money on his own and bought his first go-kart at the age of 12; however, he didn't have anywhere to put it.
Jeff disassembled the carburetor and repaired the go-kart right on the track.
Michael went on to win that day, thanks to his buddy.
' That was my knowledge of racing when I was a kid." Watching his brother's career drove Michael to aspire to become a racer himself. I had that instilled inside me since the beginning. He did everything he could to follow in his big brother's footsteps; he even came close to earning the nickname "Jaws" himself with his trash-talking in the schoolyard.
"Darrell has been an inspiration to me," Michael said. His sister, Connie, says that Michael was a real pest.
Michael took home the victory in his very first race, just as he had done five years ago in his go-kart.
"Newt Moore, who is now crew chief for [Ken] Schrader, towed from Nashville to Kentucky Motor Speedway in Owensboro," Michael recalled. We had practiced and had a cool car, the Mountain Dew No. After I went out and broke the track record, Newt went out and broke the track record, so he was the fastest qualifier.
With Michael's graduation from high school came his step up from go-karts to mini-stocks.
In 1981, he ran his first Mini-Modified event at Kentucky Motor Speedway, which was the same quarter-mile track where DW got his start.
Michael said that he didn't get a lot of help from his brother starting out.