Tony Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing and owner of Eldora Speedway, added another title Wednesday to his growing list - instructor.
Stewart returned to Texas Motor Speedway to serve as host for the eighth edition of the "Smoke Show" Fantasy Camp benefiting the Speedway Children's Charities-Texas Chapter. Twenty participants from as far away as Indiana and Iowa braved the Dallas/Fort Worth area's triple-digit temperatures for an opportunity to walk in the shoes of a driver on race day.
This year's "Smoke Show" raised more than $83,000 for Speedway Children's Charities-Texas Chapter, moving the eight-year total to $1.5 million. The "Smoke Show" continues to be Speedway Children's Charities largest grossing, single-day event of the year.
"They (campers) are the good guys, I just help facilitate it," Stewart said. "They are really the heroes of the deal. It's just a day out of my life. It's a lot of money that these people spend and it goes to a great cause and if it weren't for them it wouldn't be successful. It doesn't matter how many days I donate. They are the heroes of the day; they are the ones that make it what it is. I just come along to have a good time and have fun with them."
"Smoke Show" participants received a complete driver experience with instructions from one of the most decorated drivers in motorsports in Stewart. They received their own lockers that included personalized "Smoke Show" firesuits. Once they were suited up, they went through driver introductions in front of an enthusiastic mosh pit before taking a traditional parade lap around the 1.5-mile oval in a Texas Motor Speedway Chevrolet Silverado.
Campers then ran two 10-lap competitive sessions in a Team Texas stock car, followed by a two-seater ride with Stewart piloting his No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet from Team Texas Driving Experience. The evening culminated with a trip to Sunoco Victory Lane, where campers enjoyed a Texas-style celebration, complete with a Charlie 1 Horse cowboy hat and six-shooters.
Campers also enjoyed dinner with Stewart followed by an auction complete with signed memorabilia and race experiences. The highest-selling item, which sold for $6,500, was taking the parade lap with Stewart during the pre-race ceremonies at Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 8.
The Tony Stewart "Smoke Show" is one of the many fundraisers held by Speedway Children's Charities-Texas Chapter throughout the race season. The organization's mission is to care for children in educational, financial, social and medical need in order to help them lead productive lives. Grants are distributed children's organizations in the four counties Speedway Children's Charities serves - Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.
Since Speedway Children's Charities was formed in 1997, it has distributed $9.7 million to North Texas children's organizations and helped as many children that could fill the Texas Motor Speedway grandstands 16 times over.