For the past decade or more I’ve been an avid following of Smoke. His style of driving, personality and especially his courage as a business owner – like myself -has strengthened my dedication as a fan.
I don’t follow a lot of different sports – primarily NASCAR and a bit of the IndyCar Series. Unfortunately being in Utah there are few opportunities to actually attend a racing event without 6 or more hours of travel. I did certainly enjoy attending the June 2016 race at Sonoma that Tony won!! As Tony said jokingly when we met, “There are people that live in Utah?”
It’s sure enjoyable to follow Tony – especially through his Twitter posts – but also through his Facebook page. It was in these exchanges a few years ago that I learned about his charitable foundation. I took time to check out what the foundation did and was hooked for a few simple reasons.
The causes Tony chose to support – children, animals and drivers – are close to my heart as an animal lover, a family physician and a racing fan. Secondly, you can tell a lot about an organization from the people doing the day-to-day work. I’ve had the chance to personally meet Tony’s mom – Pam – and the executive director – Joni – who are dedicated and committed to making sure the foundation maximizes the funds that directly go to the charities serving these kids, animals, and injured drivers. They are excellent people with character, honesty and integrity that is critical to any charity I would choose to financially support.
Friends ask why I give a monthly donation and I have a quick answer. Not only do I enjoy the modest benefits of contributing every month, it also gives the foundation a monthly stream of revenue they can count on for awarding the maximum number of grants. And, it’s so easy for me as it’s an automatic draw from my account – same amount, same day – and easy to both track and change as needed. It’s perfect for a busy person who wants to maximize their giving! Personally I chose to make my contributions as “unrestricted” because all three causes are near and dear to my heart it made it impossible to choose just one.
Again, living in Utah the main way to watch racing is on television or web streaming. And, I watch it all – practices, interviews, racing and more. My wife jokes that I’m addicted but my entire family supports my passion so that is wonderful! The first time I attending an actual race was Las Vegas (2012) – what a thrill! I was able to see Tony hard at work in the garage area and then he won that race – my first to attend – and that sealed the deal! I’ve enjoyed attending races at Las Vegas (again), Phoenix, Sonoma and the Daytona 500. I also traveled to Homestead this past November (2016) to see Smoke drive his last NASCAR competition – bittersweet.
Even though Tony is no longer in the driver’s seat of the NASCAR series, he remains a team owner plus he will be driving in his Tony Stewart Racing series throughout this year. Fans – whether of NASCAR or sprint cars – should take a moment to review Tony’s foundation and learn about the impact they make on children, animals and drivers throughout the country. It doesn’t take a large gift – $10.00 – every month from a lot of big-hearted folks to make a huge difference. And, again, I am extremely impressed with the integrity of Tony’s foundation and it’s ability for helping others.
My final comment is to congratulate Tony on an outstanding career that isn’t over but perhaps at the halfway point. Tony will continue to wear quite a few hats – owner, racer and philanthropist – and I’m sure glad that he will continue to build on his legacy through the work of his foundation.