Darrell Waltrip, former stock car driver, may have been Will Ferrell’s inspiration for his character in Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby. It certainly seems that way, since Waltrip’s sense of humor, colorful language and intonation is so similar to the now-famous, fictional NASCAR star. Even As Waltrip bounds along the unforgiving Mt. Panorama circuit, better known as Bathurst, his hysterical outbursts keep the audience in stitches.
Though one might expect a former racer to be more composed, this is show business after all, and Waltrip’s outbursts were to be expected. However, it also points to how, regardless of how many miles you’ve driven yourself, riding alongside isn’t ever relaxing, especially when skimming concrete walls at triple-digit speeds. Waltrip’s shrieks make that very clear.
The V8 Supercar he rides in is no slouch either. Though heavy by racing car standards, the tightly-stacked gears, torquey V8 and a reasonable amount of downforce make these cars exceptionally quick on a demanding track like Bathurst. The amount of grunt on tap — roughly 600 horsepower — is enough to propel this heavyweight with two full-sized occupants to 200 mph down the Conrod Straight before going flat through the kink leading into The Chase. No question, the pucker factor was high through that corner.
Waltrip’s exuberant outbursts remind us of what is so enthralling about motorsport. That combination of fear, elation and ecstasy is something hard to find elsewhere. In the case of Darrell Waltrip, someone’s who has been through decades of competition and won dozens of races, that rush is still as intense as it was the first time.