First off, I wanted to thank you all for the incredible response to my call for questions! I mean I was getting questions thrown at me left and right. I was getting them in the comments section here, in my facebook, on twitter, emailed to me, im’d at me and well I think you get the idea. My dad even offered up some questions. I received lots of great questions! I was surprised to find out that many people wanted to know more about Tony’s charity work. So the first person who asked a question about the Tony Stewart Foundation was awarded the Tony Stewart Office Depot Standee (congrats @KevinMBoots77). However-even if you didn’t win the standee, you may find that I also used your question in the interview…because they were that good.
Anyway, this is our first interview so we are kind of proud of that fact. Of course, deciding to do our first interview and having that be none other than Tony Stewart is kind of like deciding you want to try to get into football so you decide to go to the Superbowl. Anyway, enjoy it- I know we did:
Amy: Do you think there is more fan involvement now that champions week is in Las Vegas and do you like that?
Tony: I definitely think so. when we did the lap down the strip the amount of people that turned out for that- it was awesome. It was nice not having to be out there wearing winter jackets and all that. But I thought it was a good turn out. You know, New york is cool but you kinda have to really be into being in New York. Everybody loves going to Vegas so it’s a lot better deal for us to be out here.
Misty: Now was the plan for that everyone was going to get to do a burn out and Jimmie blew it for you or what?
Tony: No actually he was the only one who was allowed to do the big show at the intersection and then he blew it up. It was like, man why couldn’t we have got him to that during one of the last ten races instead of waiting until champions week to do it.
Amy: If you could go back in time, what decade would you be a racer in?
Tony: Oh man. I would say….probably the sixties and seventies. It was a pretty cool era in the sport because there wasn’t all the technology involved. It was really about car owners that sat there with a piece of paper and came up and drew ideas. There weren’t the computers to create the ideas for them. Just racing was a lot simpler then. I mean guys would race Indy and run Daytona. To get to race with someone like AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti and guys like that would be pretty cool.
Amy: Is there one factor you can pinpoint in your success during your first year as an owner/driver?
Tony: Good people. That’s really the biggest key to it. Having the right people in the right places is very instrumental in us having the success that we have had. We have been really fortunate. It was bad timing to one degree but good timing for us on the other side when the economy turned because there were a lot of really good crew members that became available and that is the hardest part of the process is trying to hire the right people for your group. So that really was an advantage for us- that we were able to get really good people and that has definitely ,no doubt about it in my mind, been the key.
Amy: Do you feel long red flags hurt your momentum during a race?
Tony: No. I mean I have been racing 30 years so when you go back you’re ready. Its not as big a deal as it would seem. There’s days we’ve gotten in the cars and had red flags because of rain and not even got the chance to do it again until the next day. You’re just use to it. When it comes to get in the car and time to fire it up you kind of go through that whole sequence of getting ready.
Amy: Do you have a specific sequence when you get in the car?
Tony: When I get in the car I buckle in exactly the same way. Everything I that put on is in order and it’s the same way every time. It’s almost second nature, you don’t even think about it anymore. It’s just very routine for us how we do it.
Amy: Your foundation works with many different charities, is there one charity that is closest to your heart?
Tony: Well, I think it still, on the children’s side of the foundation, is the Victory Junction Gang Camp. I mean Kyle and Patti Petty are really close friends of mine. I didn’t know Adam very well but I knew Kyle and Patti very well. To see obviously how much it hurt when they lost Adam and it would have been easy for them to just walk away from everything there but they really pushed forward to make Adam’s dream happen and that’s something that we’re really proud to be a part of helping them realize that dream for him. You know any of the animal charities we do- it doesn’t matter WHAT it is. Those are a really big deal to us. I’m a big animal lover which ruins my bad reputation but it’s worth it. I just love animals and I always have. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Friends of Ferdinand program that we have with the horses or the ICAN Program with the trained dogs. You know any time that animals are involved is pretty cool.
So there you have our interview with Tony Stewart. It was an amazing experience and I am sure I will write more about it when I do the annual “Racecation Recap” later this week. I just want to thank Lisa and Jessie for making it happen. And of course Tony for taking the time out of his schedule for us.