And he didn’t forget to thank all the girlfriends
NASCAR was born 71 years ago. Tony Stewart is now 1 of just 55 people that sit in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Tony Stewart’s career started on the grassroots racing scene, like any racing driver. He progressed through the ranks with a fiery personality and countless wins along the way.
Stewart has three NASCAR Cup Series championships to his resume. Two with Joe Gibbs Racing and his last in 2011 came with his own team, Stewart-Haas Racing.
He picked up 49 NASCAR Cup Series wins in his career. 15th overall, tied with Kevin Harvick.
Stewart was inducted by Harvick and Gene Haas. As the Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner handed Stewart his Hall of Fame ring, Stewart took over the mic.
Hall of Fame Speech
“I want you guys to know, I had a really kick-ass speech prepared. Until this morning,” Tony Stewart opened his Hall of Fame speech.
“Then in final practice, the speech got wrecked. Mike Arning and I had to bring up a backup speech. So, we’re going to give it the best shot we got here.”
“Do to technical difficulties and trademark infringement. We had to park the first car.”
Mike Arning is the PR rep for Stewart-Haas Racing. He handled PR for most of Tony Stewart’s career. His company True Speed Communication also handling PR for the Haas F1 Team, Wayne Taylor Racing and Kyle Busch to name a few.
“I’m not old. Or at least I don’t feel like I’m old. I’m still racing. In fact, I’m racing more now than I have in a lot of the past years.”
“In my mind, the NASCAR Hall of Fame is there to honor the completion of one’s career. With the exception of Winston Kelley, he thinks it’s an excuse to get a bunch of free appearances out of the new inductees.”
“I think it’s pretty much nuts for me to be here. It’s truly an elite group and humbling to be a part of it.”
“Jim Hunter and Mike Helton, without those guys, I’m not here tonight. In fact, I probably would have been kicked out of NASCAR of my sophomore season,” Stewart added.
“Jim and Mike, I owe them a lot of credit. When it comes to Mike, I’m actually able to run race tracks and sanctioning bodies because of him and the knowledge that he gave me.”
“In fact, the whole France family gets credit. None of us are here without them right now. And I can’t wait for you to announce that we’re going to get a dirt race in the Xfinity Series and Cup Series at Eldora,” Stewart said with a laugh.
Joe Gibbs and Bobby Labonte
“Joe Gibbs surrounded me with some of the best people in racing. That’s why we were able to win two championships and a lot of races,” Stewart continued.
“In 1997, Bobby Labonte spent the most time with me, because that’s when I needed help the most. The transition from sprint cars and midgets to Indycars. But, it was the time that Bobby spent with me that made it a little easier.”
“I can remember us being at Rockingham where the Xfinity garage is clear on the backstretch. I was genuinely excited when Bobby would come all the way over to see what I was doing.”
“The Cup Series garage was on the front stretch. Bobby would take time to come over and check to see how I was doing with the car. Walk all the way to the infield backstretch to see how we were doing and offer advice. That meant a lot to me.”
“I followed everything Bobby did. Then, there came the day that I saw Bobby on a bike. Training for like the Tour de France or something, eating health food and talking about living a healthy lifestyle. I took a big giant swig of Coke, grabbed a bag or Oreos and decided to do my own thing finally.”
“I turns out both lifestyles can get you to the Hall of Fame.”
Tony Stewart thanks his family and the girlfriends
“My mom and dad made so many sacrifices to give me the opportunity to go race in go karts. I didn’t know it at the time but they mortgaged their house in order for me to go go-kart racing,” Stewart added.
“There isn’t a financial partner in the world that would say that was a good idea. And I still don’t think it was a good idea. It was the first time I questioned their sanity. But, they did it because they believed in me.”
“With age comes wisdom. And since we’re talking about family… And since I don’t have one of my own, I’d be reminisced if I didn’t thank and the girlfriends who were there as part of this journey with me.”
“These girls short time and sacrifice meant a lot to me.”
“In my last NASCAR chapter and what continues to be the most rewarding chapter is my partnership with Haas and Stewart-Haas Racing,” the NASCAR HOFer stated.
“Gene is one of the most astute businessmen I’ve ever met. But, make no mistakes, Gene Haas is also a racer to the core. He wants to win, he’s not interested in 2nd place.”
“That’s the kinda guy you want to stand shoulder to shoulder with when you’re coming into NASCAR.”
“I’m not one to get overly sentimental. I leave that for Jeff Gordon. But, I know I lived a blessed life and becoming a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame is proof of that.”
Who Tony Stewart thanked
Go Karts: My dad and Mark Dismore.
3/4 Midgets: Roy Barker and Larry Dwenger.
USAC Midgets: Dan Leary, Rollie Helmling, Ralph Potter, Larry Howard, Larry Brown, Bobby East, Steve Lewis and Keith Kunz.
Sprint Cars: Steve Christman, Ben Laba, Glen Niebel.
Silver Crown: Gene Noland, Willie Bowles, George Snider and AJ Foyt.
Indycar: Larry Curry, John Menard and Chip Ganassi.
Dirt Late Model: Steve Barnett
NASCAR: Kevin Harvick, Rick Hendrick, Jim Hunter, Mike Helton, Joe Gibbs, Bobby LaBonte, Harry Ranier, Waddell Wilson, Greg Zipadelli and Gene Haas.