It’s been a while since Kenny Wallace had won a Gator during the DIRTcar Nationals. The last time he earned the iconic trophy was in 2012. However, he broke that drought this last Wednesday at Volusia Speedway Park in De Leon Springs, Florida.
“I have a new battle cry in turning 60,” Wallace, of St. Louis, Missouri, said. “Like Toby Keith sang, ‘Don’t let the old man in,’ I’m not going to. I’m looking up to Clint Eastwood. If you retire and sit on the couch, you will die. That’s the problem lately, everyone around me seems to be dying.”
Wallace tries to stay young by staying active, although last year he missed the DIRTcar Nationals to vacation with his family in Mexico. That’s when his fellow modified competitor and Elite Chassis proprietor, Nick Hoffman, called.
“I was in Cabo and the phone rang,” said Wallace. “‘We have got to get you back here. Things are boring without you,’ [said] Nick. His words almost made me cry. It felt so good that they missed me.”
Hoffman wasn’t going to let Wallace stay away this year. He and his father, Darrell Hoffman, put together a modified for Wallace to race. Darrell had built engines for Wallace before, when Wallace ran ASA and Darrel worked at Kirn Racing Engines.
“Our families all grew up in the same area — St. Louis — we’re Blues and Cardinals fans,” Wallace said. “Nick reminds me of myself when I was younger. We have same work ethic. We came up the same way — working so hard to succeed. It is good for me to be around his youthful enthusiasm.”
The Hoffman-Wallace combination seemed to work well together. Kenny Wallace ended the weeklong event with one win, four top-fives, and five top-10s in six features. He finished ninth in points among 120 drivers who competed in the DIRTcar Nationals.
“You’re going up against the very best drivers and cars in each feature,” said Wallace. “It’s my first win being 60, and I won on the fastest dirt track in America. It proved I still have my nerve. I never slowed.”
The Outside Groove Director of Photography has written hundreds of stories since the website’s inception. This year marks his 54th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.