I had just read an extremely interesting article at the Race Fans Forever site by PattyKay Lilley on the career of NASCAR’s Waddell Wilson – a topnotch engine builder and crew chief – when I immediately began to craft a response. Part way through, I realized my response was a bit lengthy. So, instead of responding, I decided my thoughts might be of interest to race fans wanting to peer behind the curtain. Though not really an article, here are a few thoughts and remembrances I had after reading the Waddell Wilson article.

In September 1986, I was hired as Management Supervisor for a Charlotte motorsports marketing agency. In the management Supervisor capacity, I would oversee the work of all agency employees, except the agency owner.

This Four Star agency had just been selected by Procter & Gamble and its Tide detergent brand to oversee the announcement, marketing and advertising of the 1987 Tide / Darrell Waltrip / Rick Hendrick / Waddell Wilson NASCAR Winston Cup “Dream Team.”  Before the season was over, the media would call the alliance the wet dream.

We also had the Procter & Gamble contract to market the Baker-Schiff Winston Cup operation sponsored by Crisco shortening. Waddell Wilson had already lead that team’s driver, Buddy Baker to a Daytona 500 win for car owner, Harry Ranier – a victory that had thus far eluded Darrell Waltrip.

I only had between early October and the November Atlanta race weekend press conference to develop, source and write Tide press kits, get a Tide show car and trailer built and start a Tide / Darrell Waltrip souvenir program.

Matching the Tide box fluorescent ink on press kit covers and paint on race cars was a nightmare. Craftsman Press in Charlotte was finally able to perfectly duplicate the Tide colors using a tremendously expensive 5-color overlay printing process. The fluorescent orange paint for the race cars and show cars and trailers that wouldn’t fade was finally developed by Sikkens in Germany.

Kirby Boone found an old wrecked Monte Carlo race car in Georgia and supervised the transformation of that wreck into the Tide race car used at the announcement press conference in Atlanta. Kirby also worked to near exhaustion 24/7 sourcing souvenirs in the short span we had to work with. Later, Kirby would join Darrell’s own race organization. He was an outstanding young man and tireless worker.

We thought the press kit cover should nearly identically mimic the Tide detergent box. We also thought it would be cute to take the weight of a Winston Cup car and translate it into ounces on the kit cover where the detergent weight on a Tide box would be found. Well, after we received the press kit covers and just before time to leave for Atlanta, NASCAR announced a weight change for the 1987 season. We had to have little fluorescent orange stickers printed with a new weight in ounces and apply them manually to every press kit cover for the 1987 “Dream” season.

Meantime, we ran into a small hitch painting the trailer and show car that would replicate the car Waddell would wrench in 1987. Lee Holman, son of John Holman of Holman-Moody fame, let us use the old Holman-Moody race shops near the Charlotte airport to paint the trailer and race car. Unfortunately, Lee had also leased out much of the building to a video game vendor where all sorts of Atari, Pac Man and other mall-type video games were being stored. These games became doused in fluorescent orange overspray when the paint operation took place. A lawsuit enSUEd.

We took a whole creative team from a Charlotte theatrical agency to Atlanta to set up the press conference, which took place on Saturday night at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel grand ballroom near Forest Park, close to the Atlanta airport.

The hotel had just put in a bunch of expensive, but lightweight, pavers heading around to the back freight entrance of the hotel ballroom. These were the kind that grass grows up through. When the show car trailer, loaded with the race car began to pass over these pavers, they in turn began to crumble. The hotel general manager was beside himself. We then had to unload the car from the trailer and push it up the pavers and into the ballroom.

As the press announcement attendees entered the darkened ballroom that Saturday night to the tune of “2001 – A Space Odyssey,” fog rolled up from several dry ice machines, creating a perfect atmosphere of mystery and intrigue as to what they would see and hear.

After dinner, car owner, Rick Hendrick appeared on the stage that had been constructed in the middle of the ballroom. Hidden behind curtains was the new Tide race car for 1987 with Darrell Waltrip at the wheel. Onstage, Hendrick pulled the curtain off a huge Tide box replica just as the car fired up in the ballroom. The noise and vibration rattled the crystal and china on the dining tables. Down a ramp came DW wheeling the Tide Machine through the giant Tide box and stopping just before running off the stage into the assembled press corps.

The ballroom erupted into bedlam!

DW, wearing a spotless new Tide clean, sparkling white driving suit, climbed from the car and joined Hendrick and Waddell Wilson at the podium. Then Rick Hendrick officially announced what had been speculated since it was discovered in early summer of 1986 that multiple-time champion, Waltrip would leave the Junior Johnson stable to join Hendrick. Tide would sponsor a new Hendrick team with Waltrip as driver and Wilson as crew chief – “The Dream Team.”

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In spite of all the pitfalls and setbacks, our press conference had been a huge success. Not so much the “Dream Team,” though. Waltrip and Wilson never meshed. Waltrip had Hendrick bring in his old Junior Johnson crew chief, Jeff Hammond to replace Wilson, who Hendrick “promoted” to Team Manager. When Waltrip eventually left Hendrick to start his own team, Hammond would follow.

I left the agency that put on the Dream Team press conference in January 1987, before the season started. By the time Waltrip won his first Daytona 500 in 1989, my own agency was representing Plasti-Kote Spray Paint as the Official Spray Paint of NASCAR. In that capacity I was in Daytona victory lane when DW finally won an elusive Daytona 500 and wheeled his fluorescent orange Tide #17 through the gate and did his impersonation of football’s “Icky Shuffle” to celebrate.

It was a brief, but interesting odyssey to be involved in the marketing effort of NASCAR’s 1987 Dream Team.

# # #

Dave Fulton

More of Dave Fulton’s articles ( Here )

(Editor’s note: This story is published with the permission from the author! It may have appeared previously at RacersReunion.com, GhostTracks.com)

Photo Credit (cover): Racer Reunion.


  1. What wonderful memories you have. Hectic sometimes but always fun, it seems. I remember DW in the Tide car and when they did the chrome thing. Crazy and it still makes me smile. Keep in mind, I was never a DW fan, but he kept doing and saying a lot of things that made us smile and other times shake our head.
    Those were crazy, but good years, don’t you think?
    Thank you, Dave, for a wonderful way of writing and sharing so many memories.

  2. Man what a story! I remember when the Dream Team was formed and how over the top the announcement was. On paper they looked unstoppable and with the way they burst onto the scene it looked like they were going to back it up on the track. I thought oh no David Pearson’s record is gonna fall and I couldn’t stand that thought. Luckily, the pace slowed some.
    Thanks for sharing, Dave! Made my day

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