As Darrell Waltrip spoke at Bristol Motor Speedway last Friday, declaring when Fox ends its season at Sonoma he'll bring to end his broadcast career, I thought to myself how lucky I've been to experience DW as one of the best to ever get behind the wheel and a microphone.

Every step of the way he's been one of the preeminent people in racing.  Most of the newer fans either don't have a clue as to his greatness as a driver or only remember his final seasons where he went winless, an uncompetitive shell of his former glory. But this guy was one of the best at wheeling a race car - EVER. He won on superspeedways, road courses, mile and a half's and was a holy terror on the short tracks. 

The first time anybody saw Darrell race, they could tell instantly he was something special and I felt the same way the first time I watched him do his thing on Fox. He was funny, articulate, and brave enough to say exactly what was on his mind. Just as he did with his driving, he was clearly a cut above the competition, enriching the fan's experience by building bridges between the past and the present.

If not for him and Mike Joy reminiscing about people or telling stories from the "good old days" newer fans wouldn't have a clue how great or important guys like Petty, Pearson, Yarborough, Earnhardt, Allison, and others really were and, in my opinion, that was important.  Just because we live in a "what have you done for me lately world" doesn't mean we should forget where this sport came from or the people it was built on. Darrell was never going to let that happen.

At the same time, he was also relevant to what's going on inside the garage today. He's respected by today's competitors, and, as he talked about in his retirement press conference, he can reach out to them to stay in the loop and does, doing the "homework" needed to be ready for each broadcast.

Yes, there are people who watch Fox and cringe or utter bad words every time Darrell yells "Boogity, Boogity, Boogity" to start a race. Yes, there are those who think his style is "cornpone" and he jokes around to much. To many others, to millions of others, however, he's entertaining, informative, and, refreshingly, doesn't ever take himself too seriously.  Put me in that group.

The sport will be a little poorer when Darrell leaves the broadcast booth, but, thankfully, you can be sure he's not riding off into the sunset completely and will surely embrace his role as an elder statesman and NASCAR ambassador.

I'm grateful to have witnessed a majority of race's Darrell drove and experience every moment of his broadcast career. I've also had the pleasure to interview Darrell first as a driver and then as one of TV's most colorful characters. You never knew what you were going to get, but you never walked away disappointed.  And most of the time, at some point he made you laugh.

To spend more time with wife Stevie, his children and grandchild, Darrell will walk away in June on the day and the time of his choosing. He deserves that much and credit the folks at Fox for letting him leave on his own terms.

When it's over "ole DW" will have put up the stats to be a two-way Hall of Famer, good enough to make it as a driver or a broadcaster. Combine the numbers and they add up to an amazing career.  In either role he was truly a unique, "one of a kind", outsized personality that can never be matched.

Darrell has a lot to be proud of and when walks off after Sonoma he will have spent over 50 years giving NASCAR racing all he had, the best he had, and he will never be forgotten. As to how he should sign off I've got a suggestion.

"Boogity, Boogity, Boogyity, I'm going retiring boys!"