(Readers- Long time Smoke fan, Judy Seigworth (@jseigworth), agreed to give us her first hand experience as a spectator for The Smoke Show last week! For those who don’t know, The Smoke Show is a long running event put on by Texas Motor Speedway benefitting the Texas chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. Over it’s 7 years the Smoke Show has raised over $1.5 million dollars for the charity. The following is Judy’s story, in her words and pictures from the event! I was glad when Judy agreed to share her story with my readers- I certainly enjoyed hearing it and I hope that you will too!)
I have been a fan of Tony Stewart since 2004 but I personally have been a race fan all my life. Growing up I was always with my dad in his shop where he restored antique cars or with him at work which varied from Shop Supervisor to chief mechanic. Dad’s specialty was engines. My half-brother (Gary) was into motorcycles and racing so between the two of them I was always around some form of car or racing. I have been a fan of several drivers growing up like Richard Petty, Johnny Rutherford and AJ Foyt. Why Tony? Well 1st it was just because of the persona and we are close to the same age but as time went on it was because he seemed to enjoy the same things that I did and his charitable nature. But I became a full Tony Stewart fan in 2011. It may be hard for some to understand but it goes back to my Big Brother. Gary was 17 years older than me and in July of 2011 he passed away unexpectedly. Our family was devastated. My parents were in failing health and I had to take over. The whole situation became very overwhelming and depressing. NASCAR was something that the whole family enjoyed and just watching races on TV became my only source of time off from work, a break from caregiving of my parents who both were suffering from Alzheimer’s and a chance to spend time with my kids or relax. One night in December I got in the car after an emotional visit with my parents for my evening check and Tony Stewart Live from Las Vegas with the Stewie awards came on as I was started the car. I don’t remember what Tony said but it got my attention from what was on my mind and I started listening to the show. The more I listened the more I laughed. I started having tears in my eyes. I sat in the parking lot and listened to the whole entire show and felt the best I had felt in months. Tony’s humor is just like my brothers and that night God used Tony to make me remember that fact. The more I found out about Tony the more he reminded me of my brother. Always helping people out and doing it without expecting or wanting anything in return. I was a Smoke gan for life at that point. It may sound strange to some but I needed those laughs and to be reminded of the good times.
I had heard of the Smoke Show last year when I was at the fall race in Texas which the whole idea of being in a racecar and hanging out with Tony for charity is something I thought I really would enjoy. Being a mom of two kids I really like participating in charities that benefit children. You have to ask yourself “what if this was my child?” Organizations like this help make sure that help is available. So I really became interested and kept watching for information on it from the Texas Motor Speedway website and the Speedway Children’s Charities website. Early on I had written off going this year because of my schedule but then I had some schedule changes and emailed Taylor at SCCTX for information. I only made the decision a week and half before the event. Driving a race car and doing a ride along are on my bucket list and they still are. I recently had knee surgery and could not do the driving experience but they offer spectator passes which is what I chose to do. Never having been I thought it would be a great way to see what it was about and if I had fun then I could go back and do the entire experience.
Driving participants get a full experience of being a driver including a driver’s meeting, driver intros and victory lane celebration. As a spectator I felt like I was a VIP getting an inside look. Once Tony arrived he stayed around either helping with drivers, helping Team Texas who furnished the race cars or just talking with everyone. Offering encouragement and making sure that everyone was having fun. While some were driving the rest of the participants sat around getting to know one another, joking and sharing stories. Dinner in victory lane was very nice and a small setting. Again we enjoyed having Tony join us straight from the track just like the rest of us. Once the second round of driving and the final ride along with Tony was completed, the drivers did a full victory lane celebration complete with six shooters and cowboy hats. We then went inside for a small auction and awards ceremony.
The auction items ranged from a tote bag of memorabillia from Tony and/or the Smoke Show to a VIP Suite Experience. Personally I noticed a photo book from the 2011 season with a victory lane picture while we all getting drinks and snacks. It tugged at my heart and I really wanted to get it, I was also interested in a backpack that included some items that those who had been driving received. When the photo book came up no one bid on it at first so I did then no one would bid against me so I upped the bid because this is reason I came to this to help raise money. We had us a little bid war but then I got it and I was very excited. A wink and a smile from Tony for getting it didn’t hurt either. Once the auction and awards ceremony was over Tony talked and then signed autographs for everyone. Once that was complete we all slowly left but not until either exchanging contact information or making plans for next year.
The whole event was a blast, from the small get together with other participants the night before thru the entire day on Wednesday. If you ever wanted to feel like a race car driver or a special fan that got to be on the inside this is an event I would definitely recommend. I made some new friends and hope to get to see them again all while donating to a great cause. I personally got to give Tony a thank you for his involvement with the Smoke Show and in a private way pay forward what he gave me in 2011. Just like my brother would have done.
Below is some information I got from the charity on the Smoke Show to share with you:
This was the 7th year of the Tony Stewart Smoke Show. This event in the past 7 years has raised us over one million dollars for Speedway Children’s Charities. A little information on SCC is that we are an events based charity and host about 15-20 events per year. With the fundraising from our events, we give out our money through grants in the 4 county area (Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant). SCC Texas has raised over $9.7 million since we were established in 1997. We are so thankful for everyone that comes out to participate in the Smoke Show and try to make the experience as fun as possible.
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