Born to Russ and Judy Wallace he grew up watching his father race and become a champion racer in the Missouri area. Therefore, it was not surprising when in 1973, at age 16, he would begin his own career at Lakehill Speedway in Missouri. He would go on to race in the USAC and ASA series before making his Cup debut in 1980. After winning the Rookie of the Year in 1984, Rusty would go on to have a successful cup career by scoring the 1989 Championship and 55 wins before he would retire in 2005.
He married to his high school sweetheart, Patti Hall. They have three children together named Greg, Katie, and Steven. His business Rusty Wallace Incorporated, RWI, runs cars in the Busch series that are driven by son Steve.