Wayne Auton: NASCAR’s school principal

Wayne Auton called Brad Keselowski to the hauler at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 17, 2006. The night before, Keselowski “just piledrove” Jack Sprague on the cooldown lap of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Ford 200.

“Wayne calls me in the hauler and he says, ‘What happened on the cool down last night?’ ‘Oh, a little disagreement,'” Keselowski said. “I don’t remember his exact words, but I don’t think they were something I’m supposed to say.”

Auton played a tape of Keselowski plowing into Sprague, and the VCR ate the tape. Not being a tech-savvy guy, he tried to stop it, but pressed fast-forward and tape shot out.

“He was just so mad,” he said. “Like, smoke coming out of his ears mad. He just told me, get the hell out of here and don’t ever do that. Don’t do that.”

Keselowski exited the hauler trying not to laugh or snicker, but Auton made his point.

The 2024 NASCAR season marks Auton’s last as a series director. A title he’s held since 2012, as XFINITY Series director, and was the original director of the Truck Series. Much like Mike Helton, Auton is a “no-nonsense” official who’ll — to borrow a line from former Cup Series race director, David Hoots — “Put a stop to all that jimmy-jackin.'”

Of course, he didn’t always yell. After Noah Gragson and Harrison Burton fought in the garage at Kentucky Speedway in 2020, he called both of them to the hauler.

“I was expecting we were gonna get yelled at and be in trouble,” Burton said.

He said, “Just don’t do it again, boys,” and left.

Of course, he had a lighter side. He’s a “stand-up guy” who, much like NASCAR writer, Chris “Skippy” Knight, calls you every holiday and checks that you’re doing well. Plus, he’s a bit of a snarker. One night during Talladega weekend in 2018, Jim Utter, Knight and I ate dinner at a nearby Mellow Mushrooms. Skippy looked to see if any other NASCAR people were there. I pointed him towards Auton in the main dining room (also the MRN crew, but they don’t factor into this part).

Skippy tapped Auton’s shoulder, as we went to our table. A few minutes later, he came over and talked to us. At one point, Utter, tongue-in-cheek, said something to him. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it was about a penalty Elliott Sadler received during the race*.

Auton laughed and gave Utter a close to the waist middle finger.

*After that, I asked Auton what Sadler did to receive the penalty. He said that a driver could use pit road to avoid a wreck (like he did), but can’t also stop in their box for service (like he did).

Auton’s “firm, but knows when to dial back” approach to officiating earned him the respect of the drivers in the XFINITY Series garage.

“Me and Austin Cindric joke all the time that Wayne is the ‘not in my series guy.’  He’s awesome,” Burton said. “We all love Wayne, but for those few moments I was really scared of Wayne, that’s for sure.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2024, I'm on my ninth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Blazing Saddles" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Best New Zealand Online Casinos

RacingJunk.com and Leaf Racewear Safety Equipment Giveaway

Rocketplay Casino

10 deposit casinos

Best Betting Sites in Canada


Latest articles