Unless you have been living under a rock, Tony Stewart announced this week that he will retire at the end of the next NASCAR season. Clint Bowyer will take over duties of the No. 14 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet. It was not expected but it was just the same.
I have never been a NASCAR fan who was into any one particular driver or drivers in general. I have always been into cars and the racing. That took me and my racing buddy who got me into this craziness to Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP). Racing in Indianapolis took us from watching, what was then the Busch series at IRP and the Brickyard 400 to watching the same plus the Trucks at IRP. In 2004 we stepped it up to also watch the USAC Silver Crown race at IRP on Thursday night.
If you had ever gone to the USAC Silver Crown race at IRP it was a big deal; but more importantly if you had a ticket you also had access to the track and infield prior to the race. Many NASCAR drivers who, like Tony Stewart, came up through USAC, raced in this race and were there. We took advantage of that.
We went into the infield and started walking around the inside of pit road. We saw a lot of famous NASCAR drivers and soon to be famous NASCAR drivers. This is the place to be for hardcore racing fans.
We came upon Tony Stewart and my friend says “Hey, lets go talk to Tony”. I answered back “No way! He is working on his car.” So we didn’t.
There in front of us was Stewart changing his tire on his own car. There was no one helping and no one standing by watching. That is the Tony Stewart I know; someone who, as famous as he was, just wanted to race and worked on his own car. He was alone; no public relations people, no handlers, just there to have fun and race. Though I didn’t meet him that day I will always remember that. When they say you are judged by your actions and not your words, that is totally true.
Tony Stewart, I wish you nothing but the best the rest of this year and your final year racing in NASCAR. I enjoyed watching you race and your passion for racing. I’m sure the racing fans will miss you; I know I will.
Feature Photo Credit: 313029 Racing Photo Archives/Getty Images