2016 NASCAR SPRINT CUP
uring the past 20 years, Tony Stewart
has said a lot of things that were
uncomfortably honest, self-deprecating,
half-assed mean and pretty damn funny.
But as the curtain closes on his
NASCAR career there was one
declaration he made a long time ago
that’s the perfect definition of who he is
and why he gets up every morning.
“I’m not a racecar driver. I’m a racer.
I race. That’s what I do. I don’t go on
vacations. I don’t take my family on
vacations because I don’t have a family.
“My family is the racing family.”
Of course his NASCAR success will
forever stamp Stewart as a stock car
driver (Wikipedia refers to him as
NASCAR driver and team owner), but
it’s a gross misnomer because he’s
been so much more than a tin-topper.
He’s a throwback stuck in the wrong
era, whose extended family includes
almost anything with four wheels.
Anthony Wayne Stewart was born
in 1971 or, as some of his good friends
say, about 30 years too late.
Because of his pedigree and passion,
it’s a pity Stewart wasn’t born in the
1940s, because then he could have raced
in the ’60s and ’70s when A.J., Mario,
Parnelli and Gurney drove anything and
everything – whenever they pleased.
“I think Tony would have been very
good in any era, but even though it was a
lot more dangerous back then it was also
more open and nobody told you where
you could race,” says Foyt, the only driver
to win Indianapolis, Daytona and Le Mans.
“He’s a racer, no doubt about that.”
And he’s the spitting image of Super
Tex, give or take a few pounds.
“I named Tony after A.J. because he
was my hero,” says Nelson Stewart, the
father of the three-time NASCAR Sprint
Cup champion. “I know Tony’s done really
well and made a lot of money in NASCAR
and that’s enabled him to do so many
things. But he probably was born in the
To which Emmett Hahn, the co-founder
and co-promoter of the Chili Bowl, adds:
“It’s a damn shame Tony wasn’t racing in
the ’60s because he and A.J. would be
fighting all the time and it would have
been a helluva show.
“Two guys with equal talent and the
There are parallels between IndyCar’s
all-time winner and the only driver to
capture an IndyCar Series and NASCAR
championship, besides both carrying
the No. 14 on their cars.
They are both racing “lifers” with no
real interests outside the track. They’re
both masters at manipulating the media,
picking the right time to turn on the
charm after baring their teeth. They
Once recovered from back injuries sustained in an ATV
accident, Tony Stewart will play out his NASCAR Sprint Cup
career in 2016. But it doesn’t mean he’ll stop racing...
WORDS Robin Miller MAIN IMAGE Brian Czobat/Autostock