Tony Stewart risking his business enterprise with reckless decisions

August 6, 2013
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It’s time Tony Stewart gets a reality check.
 
And it’s probably time for one of his business associates or friends to give it to him. This is not the time for Stewart to surround himself with yes men who tell him what he wants to hear.

It’s time for Stewart to hear what needs to be said.

This isn’t 1967 and Stewart isn’t A.J. Foyt. It’s way past time for Stewart to give up sprint car racing (not to be confused with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series). Racing sprint cars known for their high power-to-weight ratios and wings on their roofs is way too dangerous. Stewart has far too many people counting on him for their livelihood to risk life and limb for something that in the long run really doesn’t mean much.

I know, NASCAR drivers have a long history of jumping behind the wheel of just about anything for a race. It’s part of their heritage, and Stewart is trying to live up to that. It’s time for the Indiana native to make a break from tradition before he breaks any more bones—or worse.

Stewart has to remember, he’s not just another driver. He’s an owner of a major motorsports enterprise with sizable operations in North Carolina and central Indiana.

Stewart has been in three nasty sprint car crashes in less than a month. After his second sprint car crash, Stewart brushed off questions as only he can.

“You mortals have got to learn,” Stewart told a gaggle of reporters at a recent NASCAR race. “You guys need to watch more sprint car videos and stuff. It was not a big deal. It’s starting to get annoying this week about that, so that was just an average sprint car wreck. When they wreck they get upside down like that. That was not a big deal.”

Well, maybe it is a big deal after all. Maybe the man known to his fans as Smoke is playing with fire.
 
After the first two crashes, Stewart walked away. After his third crash, the super-human Stewart was carried off on a stretcher. Stewart is drunk, not from alcohol, but from his own power. And he needs to have his sprint car keys taken away.

Stewart's most recent crash happened late Monday night at a race in Oskaloosa, Iowa, where the three-time NASCAR champ broke his leg. Early Tuesday, Stewart underwent surgery.

Stewart-Haas Racing spokesman Mike Arning said Stewart sustained a broken right tibia and fibula in the crash at Southern Iowa Speedway and will be out at least a week. Almost humorously, Stewart-Haas officials said the team’s owner would not participate in a tire test next Tuesday. You don’t say. I don’t care how tough he is, Stewart is going to be out a lot longer than a week.

Despite the setback, Stewart has reason to smile—this time. Those who saw Stewart’s car somersaulting along the track know it could have been worse. A lot worse.

No one needs to be reminded that 37-year-old NASCAR driver Jason Leffler was killed in a sprint car race earlier this summer.

It’s a dangerous sport, and the guys who get behind the wheel of any race car know and accept that. I get going after your dreams, and I understand 20-something-year-old guys racing the sprint track circuit trying to realize their dreams of making it to the big leagues. 

But I don’t understand a 42-year-old owner of a multi-million dollar NASCAR operation climbing behind the wheel and racing alongside a bunch of hell-bent kids.

It’s funny to me that many folks in and around the stock car circuit say NASCAR drivers can’t risk racing the Indianapolis 500 or other IndyCar Series races because it’s too dangerous. It would be stupid, they say, for stock car stars to risk their NASCAR livelihoods. Really?!

At least if you’re racing at Indianapolis, you’re racing for something meaningful. Maybe open-wheel racing isn’t what it once was, but there’s no denying that anyone who has ever made their living racing cars (trucks, boats or tractors for that matter) would want their face etched on the Borg-Warner Trophy. That still means something significant—not only for a racer’s legacy, but for his business interests as well.

What does a victory in Oskaloosa mean? And while I’m not going to say that every IndyCar driver is among the best in the world, I’d certainly take my chances going wheel-to-wheel with the likes of Dario Franchitti, Marco Andretti and the rest of the open-wheel bunch rather than lining in up against who knows who on a dirt track in Timbuktu.
 
And though some complain that the IndyCar chassis has a tendency under certain circumstances to become airborne, I’d say they’ve proven to be largely safe, or at least about as safe as a car going 200 mph can be.

Whether you’re in an open-wheel car at Indianapolis or on a dirt track in a small town, racing is dangerous and sometimes people get hurt or even killed. I get that. But running a business is about managing risk. And Stewart seems to be taking some unnecessary gambles with his business and his life.

Stewart doesn’t take any bull—or much advice—from anyone. That’s what makes him simultaneously one of the most loved and loathed guys in NASCAR.

But this time, let’s hope that Stewart listens to a voice of reason. Because, love him or hate him, most would agree NASCAR would be worse off with his absence.


 

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  • Too much Smoke...
    ...can cause cancer. Plus, it smells bad. That is Tony Stewart in a nutshell.
  • Thanks in Advance
    Would someone mind translating the post above into a known language?
    • We should all be so lucky
      I have to disagree with you on this one. Stewart is doing what he loves and who should stop him. Are we really going to tell the guy he's become such an important race car driver that he should stop driving race cars. He does not need to stop taking risks just because he is successful. If anything, his success gives him the ability to do pretty much anything he wants in life. Nothing like being strangled by your own success. I admire the guy for continuing to race for the fun of it, rather than just for the business of it.
    • agree with potato
      Wanting Tony to stop racing is like asking him or any "real" racer to stop breathing. Not only does he do all the extra racing for him but it is his way of giving back .... he is so completely grounded and knows more than most where he came from .... when he shows up at those little tracks he does more than lend his name he drives the fans to a frenzy and helps give the track owner a profitable night, maybe the only real profitable night of the racing season. Tony is not about money he is about racing and racing fans and I am one of many that just wants to say THANKS !
    • Right On!
      Well said! Stewart's actions not only jeopardize his career, but the career of MANY others who work along side of him. The risk outweighs the reward of a plastic sprint car trophy from Timbuktu. Stewart needs to grow up!
    • Smoke and Mirrors
      That is the joke called Smoke and NASCAR's warped reflection, clowning around as a bloated buffoon but is the joke really on you?
    • NASCAR=Boring
      If more racers were like TS the stands would be full. Face it, NASCAR & IRL have become boring. Where's the danger, guts and glory? "Vanilla Safe" just does sell to any one but corporate suburbia.
    • My favorite quote EVER
      Rusty Wallace said he wouldn't get out of an Electric Chair to race in one of them IRL cars. Neither would TOny Stewart. But, he would race a sprinter and break his legs. Bwahahahahaaa! Get well soon Smoke, Indy needs you to save their track! LOL
    • Reporter=Numbskull
      That's why they call him a racer! Something a lame brained couch potato reporter will never understand. Don't forget to report the part that Tony was winning the race and a lap car spun and wrecked him. Could have been a semi flying over the freeway on I-74. The fact is that Tony as well as a number of the Nascar upper classmen race to race. Don't forget the part about him winning many of the races he runs. Leave it to a numbskull who has no clue about a real racer to write a stupid article.
    • Tony only wins..
      ...because he can afford it, thansk to teh NA$CAR checks. He is one of the biggest actors in the soap opera they are runing. A-lister, in fact, and good at playing the "bad guy." So he shows up with top-flight racing equipment that is the equivalent of say, Justin Verlander pitching in an American Legion pickup game in a city park on his off days. Smoke is just that. Smoke. And a mirror. He and the other world-class hind end, Foyt, like to play like Smoke is gonna come back and run the Indy 500 now and then, but the truth is, he would have his lardish, unwiped, arse handed to him and he KNOWS it. Smoke was early-IRL, beat the likes of the Racing Dentist and Sarah Fisher, oh, ok, I'll thrown in Bronco Brad Murphey and Racin' Gardner, so sure, but that is what he had for real car racing. He's a fat cabbie who gets paid pirmo to shill for NA$CAR copy? Get over yourselves with the Smoke love. It's gross.
      • Tony only wins ??
        Burl sounds like a guy that has been a car owner and driver on many levels and is privileged to lots of inside information and hatred that most of us common fans can not understand ! I guess we should be thankful for his insight !
      • Tony wins in anything he gets in. He is a true racer, like Foyt, Andretti, Sneva, Unsers, etc.... who would run the dirt track at the State Fair and run the same car at Indy the next day. I am betting Tony is working on racing motorized wheel chairs until he can get back in a car. And Anthony, do you have the same advice for the CEO or owner of companies that skydive or runs with the bulls? The odds of Tony dying in a plane crash going from race to race are probably higher than from being in a race car. Where do you think his skill and talent comes from? Not sitting on a boat at Lake Norman all week. It comes from mixing it up with the young, up and coming kids.
      • Seriously?
        Nobody should be driving a race car. LOL. Stewart's roots are in open wheel racing. He knows what he's doing.
      • A Man Of The People
        Tony is a hit because he resonates with the audience. He grew up in Indiana and won in everything he tried. Now he is a successful owner. In many ways he is a throwback. He is a lot more relevant to the average joe than any one of a host of foreign twisty car specialists that settled for IndyCar because their F-1 breaks did not come through. IndyCar owners have not been paying attention for four decades. Why would they start now?
      • Please Explain The Obtuse Meandering
        For those of us who speak English and possess maturity, I have a few questions: 1) What does the word 'boi' mean? 2) Were you referring to corn bread or that Tony was bred? 3) What is 'sickyard?' 4) Is 'bbbbwwwwaaaahhhhaaaa' some type of code proclaiming some special type of illiteracy? You and your squatting little pals seem to use enjoy using it repeatedly. 5) Where do you dream up the imaginative stereotypes? Oh well, thanks for being obsessed and making attempts to contribute, even if it usually falls flat.
      • Reading Comprehension
        As previously stated, he was merely speaking on behalf of mature English speakers.
      • Tony Stewart is an adult
        I think it is funny when sports writers start to inject their own opinions on what car owners /drivers should be doing on their spare time. Tony Stewart is a race car driver. If he wants to race sprint cars on his own time, more power to him. So it's ok for him to drive a cup car, a Nationwide car, a dirt modified but its not ok to race a sprint car? So the others are not dangerous as well? Did anyone stop and think he is doing it because its fun? Hell II would drive one no questions asked if I had an opportunity. Maybe that is his way to relax. I say get off his back.

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