A legendary racer reveals the role country music played in his mother’s funeral Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

After the passing of his mother Margaret on July 12 at the age of 90, NASCAR favorite Michael Waltrip and his family were given the enormous responsibility of putting together a funeral service that would adequately pay tribute to the woman they cherished.

And that’s when country great Steve Wariner entered the picture.

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“Steve Wariner played at my father’s funeral [in 2000] and sang ‘How Great Thou Art,’” Michael told Rare Country in a recent interview. “We actually played a recording of it at my mom’s service. It was so appropriate and so fitting, and it sounded like he was right there in the church. Steve is dealing with his father’s passing too, so to play that song at the funeral just seemed right.” (Steve’s father, Roy,  passed away on July 7, as previously reported.)

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Indeed, country music has long played a role in Michael’s life. “I grew up in country music,” he recalls. “I loved it long before I was a NASCAR racer. I’ve been friends with Darius [Rucker] before he was a country guy and Luke Bryan played at one of our charity golf outings before he hit it big. Hell, I once stayed at a hotel in Canada and I found Jerrod Niemann sitting at the bar!

“I like most of the entertainers in the country world because they are doing what they love,” he added. “As a kid, all I dreamed about was that I would have the opportunity to do something that I loved, and that’s just what I got to do.”

Tricia Despres is a senior correspondent for Rare Country, based out of Chicago. Join the conversation on Twitter at @RareCountry. We would love to see y’all there.
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