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NASCAR COMMENTARY: Waltrip emerged safe from horrific crash at BMS in ‘90

NASCAR COMMENTARY: Waltrip emerged safe from horrific crash at BMS in ‘90

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The legend of Bristol Motor Speedway has been built around magical moments and memories.

Since the 1961 Volunteer 500, this quirky short track has featured heated arguments, fantastic finishes and all sorts of heroic performances.

The recent card of NASCAR Truck, Xfinity and Cup racing at BMS has been the highlight of the entire 2021 season in terms of excitement.

One Bristol moment was not so magical.

Flash back to the 1990 Budweiser 250 in what is now the Xfinity Series.

On lap 170, the car driven by Michael Waltrip slammed into the old crossover gate in Turn 2 at over 110 mph. Waltrip had been trying to pass series veteran and former Kingsport Speedway owner Robert Pressley.

To the horror of everyone in the stands and in the pits, Waltrip’s car went through the gate and into the concrete wall.

The gruesome incident ranks as the most spectacular crash in track history and one of the worst in the history of the sport.

Somehow, the 6-foot-5 Waltrip emerged from his mangled car unhurt.

The popular NASCAR commentator relieved that day during a Sept. 1 appearance at the new Michael Waltrip Brewing location on Moore Street in Bristol, Virginia.

“Usually when you’re in one of those bad crashes, you’re knocked out. And when you come to, you don’t know where you’re at or what’s going on,” Waltrip said. “I had been in a few crashes before that.”

Many fans shielded their eyes as rescue workers rushed to assist Waltrip.

“It knocked the breath out of me,” Waltrip said. “A couple of minutes later, people were staring at me funny.”

Waltrip tried to assure the shocked workers and his team members that he was okay.

“I’m like, ‘I’m fine. What’s wrong with you all?’ They said, ‘Do you see your feet?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, they’re still on me.’ They’re like, ‘Your feet are on the track and your steering wheel isn’t there anymore.’ I was like, ‘I’m not hurt,” Waltrip said.

According to Waltrip, he watched the replay of the crash later that night in his hotel room.

“That’s when I understood what all the fuss was about. It was unbelievable I was able to walk away,” Waltrip said.

Waltrip, 58, has branched out into the world of books, film and television, with a 2014 appearance on “Dancing with the Stars.”

But he has a special place in his heart for Bristol Motor Speedway, where he recorded two Xfinity wins.

“Bristol, there are so many emotions when I come here,” Waltrip said.

And that’s also why so many NASCAR fans make yearly pilgrimages to this quirky track in the Northeast Tennessee mountains.

agregory@bristolnews.com | Twitter: @Greg_BHCSports | (276) 645-2544

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