He riffed on NASCAR fights, completing his 67th race of the season Friday night, Eddie Gossage’s reputation as America’s greatest promoter, and serenading his crew while driving. In short, classic Tony Stewart, and Smoke added Texas Motorsports Hall of Famer to his extensive list of accomplishments Saturday.
“I thought you were gonna put a ring on it, but since you didn’t I thought I would put a ring on it. You’re a member of the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame,” TMS President/GM Eddie Gossage joked as he handed Stewart, the longtime bachelor, his Hall of Fame ring.
Stewart authored the most diversely successful career in the history of Texas Motor Speedway. His record of two NASCAR Cup Series wins (2006, ’11), two pole awards (’10, ’14), and a pair of INDYCAR pole awards (1997, ’98) likely won’t be challenged or matched anytime soon, and his 1,176 laps led at No Limits, Texas, ranks fourth in track history.
“When I was young, all I wanted to do was figure out how to not work a real job,” Stewart said. “Luckily, I found something that I could do that they would actually pay me to do that I liked to do, which is drive a race car.”
Stewart has done much more at Texas Motor Speedway than succeed on the track. He lends his name to the Tony Stewart Presents the Vankor Texas Sprint Car Nationals, where he finished third in Friday night’s A-Main.
“I’m a glutton for punishment,” he joked when asked about being inducted the day after he completed a race. “I was talking to Chip (Ganassi) and he said, ‘I thought you retired.’ I was like, ‘I thought so too,’ but apparently I don’t understand what the definition of retired is.”
He also has spent the past 12 years putting his skills to work at the Smoke Show fantasy driving camp, which has raised nearly $2 million for Speedway Children’s Charities – Texas Chapter.
“I’ve told Eddie ’til the day I die, as long as he wants to do it, I’m in.”
Stewart was the headliner Saturday, but it was a star-studded affair in the Grand Ballroom of The Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway.
Other award winners were Scott Dixon (Racer of the Year), Chip Ganassi (Bruton Smith Legend Award), Tyler Reddick (Sportsmanship Award), the late Gerry Fraley (Excellence in Journalism), and Extreme Photography Studios (Major General Thomas Sadler Humanitarian Award).
The Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame ceremony serves as a major fundraiser for Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter. SCC has invested over $10.85-million in the North Texas community to help children in need. In the existence of the local chapter, SCC has improved the lives of over 2.4-million children.
— Texas Motor Speedway —