Three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart doesn’t hesitate to point to mom when discussion turns to his racing success. He recalls how his mom supported him every step of the way … from go-karts to NASCAR.
Patience. My mom has a lot of it. Anyone who could actually raise me and not want to kill me or kick me out of the house has got to be a very patient person. That’s my mom. She’s got a great heart, and she’s really good with people.
As I grew up — and I suppose some would argue that’s still a work in progress — my mom continued to guide me. In school, it was making sure the things that had to be done got done, like homework and mowing the yard. But as my racing career progressed and the demands on my time increased, she took care of all those things that go on outside the race car and managed them.
As I went from USAC to IndyCar to NASCAR, she handled the merchandising, my personal sponsorships, paid the bills, and something that never really changed, she made sure I got to and from where I needed to be.
As my NASCAR career went on, the business grew and more people were brought in to handle all the different aspects. Part of that growth included starting our own charitable foundation in 2003. With the Tony Stewart Foundation, our mission is to raise funds primarily distributed to serving three specific groups — chronically ill and physically disabled children, animals that are endangered or at risk and drivers injured in motorsports. To date, the foundation has awarded more than $5 million for more than 150 organizations throughout the United States.
Mom’s been there for all of it, and today she’s on the board and very involved in the day-to-day decisions of the foundation. She’s also very engaged with my fans. She has a constant presence at our retail store in Indianapolis. If you call the store, she’ll probably answer the phone, and she’s always talking to fans, telling stories of me growing up, which I think she really enjoys because it’s usually embarrassing for me. I think that’s some kind of sweet revenge all parents enjoy.
Mom has always been a huge supporter of my racing. My whole family has, really. Mom was a little more reserved and a little more quiet about it than my father was. My father was kind of the ringleader. He was the one who made all the decisions on what we did and didn’t do. While mom was a little bit reserved, she was, and still is, one of my biggest supporters.
She tried to instill her patience in me, but it never really took. To be honest, I’m not sure I got any of her traits. I think my sister got all of them. I think most of my traits came from my dad. I got the short end of the stick on that one. …
I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my mom and all the sacrifices she made, and to be honest, my entire family made. We didn’t come from money, so we had to be smart and strategic. My mom and dad’s faith in me allowed us to get through the lean times. When you look back and see how far we’ve all come, it makes you appreciate all that we’ve accomplished that much more.