Surfaced this article today from the April 22, 1969 archives of The Messenger-Inquirer of Owensboro, KY.
Waltrip's GT Racing Debut Darkened By Two Blown Tires
By DAVE CALLAHAN
A pair of blown tires cast a light shadow on the race that launched Darrell Waltrip's GT racing career Sunday, but a bright horizon appears to be shining in the future for the young Owensboro driver.
The 1968 Mustang which Waltrip piloted to the 15th spot in the NASCAR-sanctioned Bluegrass 300 at Ellis Speedway looked a little out of place. Its dark gray coat of primer paint and lonesome "72" on the doors contrasted with all the other shimmering, brightly colored GTs, which were covered with names of drivers, crew members and the all-important sponsors. But the hometown boy, in his just-completed machine, showed that he could stay with them.
Waltrip held the ninth position through most of the race against the nation's top Grand Touring Division cars and drivers, but a blown tire on the 178th lap set him 20 circuits behind the leaders. Waltrip was in the race for only 34 laps before his right front tire blew again and this time it cost the local boy 26 laps.
"I think if we had not had the tire trouble, we would have finished at least fourth," Waltrip said following his first Grand Touring race. "It wasn't really the fault of the tires. We had some suspension trouble because we didn't have time to test the car out. You see, this is the first time the car has ever been on the track. We've been building the car for the past week and a half and just got it finished last night," Waltrip, who at 22 is the youngest driver on the NASCAR circuit, said.
Working with three shifts, 24 hours a day, Waltrip's crew finished the car just hours before race time. "I'm not at all disappointed," Waltrip stated. "If we had had another day of work, I believe we would have been up there with the best of them. The only problem we had, other than with the tires, was that the car was not geared correctly. Because of this, we didn't have the needed power out of the corners. But this, as with the problem with the suspension, was due to our not checking out the car."
In the early going, it looked as though Waltrip was going to show the big boys up before the local crowd of 3,000. Starting from dead last (because he didn't have the car prepared in time for Saturday's time trials), Waltrip quickly moved in and out of traffic during the first two Laps, passing seven cars to take the 13th spot.
Where will Waltrip go from here? "From now on, I'll go to most all the races on the GT circuit. I'll miss a few in the North, but I'll go to all the ones in the South."
Waltrip will be in the Maryville 200 at Maryville, Tenn., on May 3. "Before Maryville, we'll paint the car and make all the necessary adjustments in the suspension and gear ratio," Waltrip concluded.
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
updated by @tmc-chase: 06/05/18 04:45:40PM