Every good hero has his trusty steed. The Lone Ranger had Silver, Roy Rogers had Trigger and 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Rusty Wallace had Midnight.
Thus, it is fitting that Midnight--one of the most famous cars in NASCAR history--will be featured in Wallace's exhibit at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, beginning Saturday, February 9th.
Midnight (PSC-009), the ninth stock car assembled by Penske Racing South, made its debut in the September 12, 1992 Miller Genuine Draft 400 at Richmond, with Wallace at its helm. The Missouri native started the event from the third position and dominated the night, leading 231 laps on his way to victory.
Throughout his storied career, Wallace had a tradition of naming each of his cars that had won a race. Thus, when the Missouri native drove into Richmond's victory lane around the midnight hour, his veteran PR representative, Tom Roberts, suggested naming the car "Midnight." It was then that a legend was born.
Midnight became the workhorse of Wallace's Penske fleet during 1993 and 1994--seasons that produced 10 and eight wins, respectively. During that time, the mere mention of its name often struck fear in the hearts of competitors.
Stated Wallace, "Back then, it was Dale Earnhardt and I racing for the win all the time. I remember every week when we got to the track, he'd come up and ask me, "What car you got? It's not that darn Midnight is it?" If it was, he knew he had his work cut out for him."
Starting with its 1992 debut, Midnight amassed a staggering record of 13 wins, 30 top-fives and 31 top-tens in 38 starts. The car led over 5000 laps during that period--as both a Pontiac Grand Prix and a Ford Thunderbird--accounting for nearly one-third of all possible laps in those events. To this day, the car's 13 wins still comprise nearly 20 percent of Penske Racing South's Cup Series win total.
Midnight's restoration began in mid-2012 and was performed by former Penske Racing fabricator, Chuck Gafrarar, along with other former members of Wallace's Penske team. The car has been fully restored to race-ready condition, as a 1994 Ford Thunderbird featuring the famous black and gold Miller Genuine Draft livery. As part of a complete team effort, Penske Corporation, MillerCoors and Ford Motor Company all participated in the project.
Said Wallace, "I'm really excited to have Midnight in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. That car was such a huge part of my career. Every time I sat in it, it just felt right; it fit like a glove. I'll tell you what, if we had Midnight at the racetrack, everyone else there knew that they had a long day ahead of them; Midnight was just that good. The black and gold MGD paint scheme was the coolest one we ever had too; it just looked mean and the fans really loved it.
"My son Greg and daughter Katie have done a great job handling a lot of the Hall of Fame stuff for me. Greg's the one that made everything happen with Midnight. He and the guys are keeping the car a secret from me; they won't even let me see it. When the Hall of Fame exhibits are unveiled on February 9th, I'm going to be seeing Midnight again for the first time, just like everyone else. It's going to bring back a lot of memories for sure."
Rusty Wallace Racing PR