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Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fans

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Smoke14TS

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:08 am

Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fans

"This one's for every one of those fans in the stands that pull for me every week and take all the bull**** from everybody else." - Tony Stewart, July 29, 2007

"My fans have more balls." - Tony Stewart on Jeff Gordon's fans.
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Annalee

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:47 am

Re: Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fan

A great read.........from Aaron Rosser. :) :) ;) He really puts into words what racing means to him...Aaron you are right .....if Tony isn't in the race then it just isn't a race...at least not in my books!!
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tony Stewart's injury situation, as viewed from one of his biggest fans
Ever since the news hit the wire that Tony Stewart had been injured in a sprint car accident in Iowa, opinions have been flying in from all directions and in all manners. He should quit moonlighting, he should keep doing it, it's a terrible thing, it's funny, it won't be the same without him in the race, it's karma for him firing Ryan Newman. 

Most of those opinions were made known via social media, throughout Twitterville and on the various NASCAR-related Facebook pages by race fans, some who count themselves among Tony's massive fanbase, some who don't but wanted to offer their sympathies, and some who should perhaps tread a little lightly these next few days, lest they find themselves in a similar situation to his after expressing their glee over another human being breaking a leg.

The NASCAR media also opined, with stories ranging from those scolding him for putting his Sprint Cup program into this situation to those praising him for making fans aware of short tracks across the country in a day and age when city councils and other morons who moved into a neighborhood, knowing full well there was a race track that had been there for 50 years or more nearby, and complained about the noise are so eager to turn those hallowed grounds into a mini-mall or a parking lot.

The purpose of this story is to try to present the situation from the view of one of Tony's biggest fans. No, it won't be as eloquent as the great pieces written by USA Today's Nate Ryan or Fox Sports' Tom Jensen or pretty much any story written by ESPN's Marty Smith (the best in the business as far as I am concerned), but hopefully it provides a little insight on the situation for those who don't root for Tony and can't see the story from this angle.

When word came that Tony had been involved in a crash and taken off in an ambulance, my first thought -as I'm sure is the case for most who were awake when the news broke - was about Jason Leffler. Fortunately, there were soon reports from the Southern Iowa Speedway that stated that Tony had been awake and alert and talking to the officials and the safety workers. Then came the rumors of a leg injury that ranged all the way to a compound fracture to the femur before we finally got the official word from Stewart-Haas Racing that Tony had broken his tibia and fibula (the two bones in the lower leg, for y'all who didn't pay attention in health class or biology). With that came the news that Tony would be out for this weekend's Watkins Glen race and likely longer, with one surgery complete to stabilize the injury completed and another one left to actually work on fixing it.

I felt a wide range of emotions, from fear to relief to anger to immense disappointment to understanding. Let me say first that the anger was never once directed at Tony and his sprint car pursuits. It was directed at the aforementioned idiots who feel big behind a computer screen and talked about how funny it was that Tony had been hurt and this and that. They have no understanding of the business of racing (hence they would understand why Ryan Newman is out at SHR next year and Danica Patrick is still in, as backwards as that may be), and frankly a lot of them were these teenage girls who don't know an axle from a tailpipe and who's only knowledge of the sport is that "like, OMG, Kasey Kahne/Dale Jr./Carl Edwards/Jimmie Johnson/Jeff Gordon/insert-whoever-else-here is SO hot!" They aren't worth getting mad over, but when you see all this crap being said about your hero, it's hard not to become incensed. I seethed for a good while.

The fear part is obvious, an immediate fear that Tony was hurt severely or that we had lost him. Relief came when we learned it was just - just - a leg injury. That was followed by the immense disappointment over the fact that he wouldn't be able to go for a record-extending sixth win in Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at the Glen, the fact that I won't get to see him race at Atlanta next month (and at this point, nobody. Finances can't justify buying tickets to a race Tony isn't in), and the fact that for only God knows how long at this point I won't get to see him race period.

The understanding part, which I turn to anytime that disappointment tries to creep back in, is that we still have Tony. Like I said a minute ago, it is just his leg. Yes it probably hurts like the dickens right now and I feel absolutely terrible for him, but doctors can fix a leg the same way the mechanics can fix a race car. Heck, if Rick Mears could come back to race and win two more Indy 500s after his feet and legs were completely shattered in a 1984 IndyCar accident, Tony can come back from a broken lower leg with no problem. The key is that we still have him and that the Good Lord and his guardian angels - whom I assume include Jason and Kenny Irwin, who would have turned 44 Monday - were looking out for him.

The best part of the day of course was Tony's message to his fans on Facebook, thanking us for our prayers and support. I cackled at the first line that read "I told someone to go get my phone or I was going to get up and get it myself." Is that our Smoke or what?

Long before Tony's accident and injury, his extra-curricular activity has been a point of contention among his fans, detractors, and the NASCAR media corps. Now the line has hardened even more, with folks on either side either criticizing or defending it more loudly than ever. It is quite telling, though,  that the folks who were calling the loudest even before Tuesday for him to quit racing sprint cars have never turned a competitive lap, while drivers, mechanics, and broadcasters past and present vocally supported him doing the short track racing if he so chooses.

I've never raced, probably never will, but I fall in line with the latter group. If racing in his spare time is what Tony wants to do, then shame on anyone who would want him to stop. Yes, there are times when I wish his car of choice was something different - a dirt late model, perhaps - but I would never, ever suggest that he quit. The fact of the matter is that he has fallen in love with winged sprint cars since getting the opportunity to start racing them on a more frequent basis a few years ago. That's what he wants to drive, so all I can do is sit back, pray for his safety, and wait for an update on how he did. 

He's living his life the way he wants to live it. That is something to be envied. And yes, he is responsible to a lot of folks - not me or you, but to his sponsors, his employees at Stewart-Haas Racing, the crew members of the 14 car - but you have to imagine that they already knew before they signed on the dotted line what his intentions were. It is a unique situation with a unique individual. I saw Donna Richeson, who was part of the ownership group of the No. 11 team when her then-brother-in-law Brett Bodine ran the team from 1996-2003, talking about this subject yesterday and comparing it to the situation with their team. Now, I'm not going to criticize Donna; for one thing she's an awesome lady and one of my favorite folks to interact with on Twitter, and furthermore she's much more qualified to speak on the subject of team ownership that most folks, myself included, because she's been there. 

Like I said, though, it is a unique deal. I have to figure - I don't know for sure, and I don't want to be mistaken for thinking I do - that everyone knew up front what they were getting into when signing on to race with Tony and the risks that would be involved. Disappointed as Bass Pro Shops, ExxonMobil, Rush Truck Centers (the scheduled primary sponsor for this weekend's race at The Glen), Coca-Cola, Nabisco, and all the other companies who support his team have to be with the circumstances, I doubt they feel blindsided by this. I hope they don't, because I love having those brands on his car and supporting them all I can. It would be a shame if this were to sour their relationship with Tony. Will things change going forward? Maybe, but that's a bridge that will be crossed when they reach it.

Hey, at least they had more forewarning than Joe Gibbs did. The Coach famously restricted a bit of Tony's short track racing when Tony was driving the No. 20 car. Just as famously, names like Smoke Johnson, Smokey Jones, Mikey Fedorcak Jr., and Luke Warmwater started showing up in short track entry lists. No one outside of his inner circle and whoever he happened to be driving for on that evening were anymore the wise until the race was over and - often in the winner's circle - he pulled off his helmet.

It's not fun to face the fact that the next several races, perhaps the rest of the 2013 season, will go by without Tony Stewart in the field. I love all of our drivers for the most part, but it is hard to think of it as a race if he isn't in it. That's probably the big reason I seldom actively seek out Nationwide, Camping World Truck, NHRA, or IndyCar races on television. Conversely, I haven't missed a Cup race since 1998, when I would skip watching the Jeff Gordon Show in order to watch Tony race in the IRL. 

I just love the guy. I've never met him and I probably never will - if I did, I'd end up like Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden in The Honeymooners (Huminahuminahuminahumina) - but every time I see him on television or wherever, it is as though I'm seeing a distant cousin or something. I'm sure I'm far from the only fan that feels that way about their driver, but it's still neat. I never say that I am his biggest fan, because that is reserved for his family and friends, but I am as big a fan as you can get otherwise and I would absolutely nominate myself for his biggest fan in the state of Georgia.

It is tough to know he's hurt, and that he will be kept away from his passion for the next few weeks. People aren't defined by their profession, but when it comes to Tony Stewart, "racer" isn't his profession. It's who he is, period. In terms of contemporary American motorsports, I'd say without hesitation that he is the best at it. Hopefully there's something to bring him some peace, whether he takes up some guest broadcasting or ups his prank-pulling to a whole new level, as he deals with his recovery and this temporary lull in the action.
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housesandhogans

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:17 am

Re: Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fan

I feel like this guy read my mind! Exactly how I feel and am as a Tony fan.
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im4tony

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:23 am

Re: Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fan

Excellent article. Well written and I feel like he is speaking on my behalf too.
"This is my house" Tony at the Glen
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ndunn

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:58 pm

Re: Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fan

I enjoyed the article as it was written by someone who cares for Tony. Tony doesn't want to hear what he should or shouldn't do as that ended years ago. He raced his big wheel around his dad's garage when he was a little guy. His dad didn't mind but did change the wheels so it was quite so loud.
The Military Thanks You For Standing Behind Them. If You Can't Do that You Can Always Stand In Front Of Them.....Think About It.....

Thank you to those who took a step forward to save the rest who stand still.
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pattysmithmier

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:56 pm

Re: Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fan

In re to the article "Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fans", I feel like this person must have read my mind. I feel the same way. Thank you for posting your feelings because many of us feel the same way, but could not express it so completely. I probably will not ever meet Tony either and it is probably a good thing because I would make a fool of myself. My husband talked me into watching a Nascar race one day and it just happened to be the day Tony won for Gibbs in Homestead several years ago. When I saw him win and climb the fence, it was instant love for him and Nascar. I grew up with three brothers and have always loved cars. I would spend my weekends cleaning and polishing my car when I was young. I grew up in the 60s when cars where a big thing. I would drag race with anyone at the drop of the hat. I loved driving fast and was somewhat of a worry to my parents. I guess that is why I love Smoke so much because he loves the speed and the racing. So to all those who put him down and say what he should or shouldn't do, don't do it where I can hear you. It really makes this granny upset.
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kim92164

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:57 pm

Re: Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fan

I feel like the writer did. There is a part of me that would like to see Tony quit the extra racing, but there's an even bigger part of me that says he should continue if he wants to. After going to my local dirt track and hanging around back in the pits, I understand his love for it. I know he loves the sport and by his racing at the dirt tracks, he's holding on to where he started and that helps to keep him grounded because he's never lost site of where he came from. I don't understand very much about racing, but I do understand the love the racers have for it.
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kim92164

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:58 pm

Re: Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fan

kim92164 wrote:I feel like the writer did. There is a part of me that would like to see Tony quit the extra racing, but there's an even bigger part of me that says he should continue if he wants to. After going to my local dirt track and hanging around back in the pits, I understand his love for it. I know he loves the sport and by his racing at the dirt tracks, he's holding on to where he started and that helps to keep him grounded because he's never lost site of where he came from. I don't understand very much about racing, but I do understand the love the racers have for it.


I don't even know if I made any sense or not. But it's my 2 cents worth.
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Smoke14TS

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:11 pm

Re: Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fan

Glad y'all liked the story.
"This one's for every one of those fans in the stands that pull for me every week and take all the bull**** from everybody else." - Tony Stewart, July 29, 2007

"My fans have more balls." - Tony Stewart on Jeff Gordon's fans.
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jdpirate

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:27 pm

Re: Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fan

Loved the story!
Sums up how I feel...
Tony wouldn't be the Tony we all root for if he wasn't involved in all his other racing ventures. It is who he is...that is why we love him :)
I'm living my life the way I want to.... Tony Stewart
[]Never Quit...... Marcus Luttrell
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HotCamaro

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:35 pm

Re: Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fan

My feelings exactly! Who has the nerve to tell anyone that they should stop being themselves? Do we tell a football player to stop playing just because they sustain an injury? There would be no football players on the field. Have surgery, recover and get back out on that field. When you are a fan of Tony.....you are a fan of someone who is a racer, not someone who races for a living! We will miss you Tony and wait for your return to any racing you want to do. Love our Smoke!
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TishR

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:38 pm

Re: Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fan

This is an awesome piece!
Tish
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dkariel

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:28 pm

Re: Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fan

[size=150]Said it better then I could, but exactly how I feel![/size]
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ndunn

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:01 pm

Re: Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fan

kim92164 wrote:
kim92164 wrote:I feel like the writer did. There is a part of me that would like to see Tony quit the extra racing, but there's an even bigger part of me that says he should continue if he wants to. After going to my local dirt track and hanging around back in the pits, I understand his love for it. I know he loves the sport and by his racing at the dirt tracks, he's holding on to where he started and that helps to keep him grounded because he's never lost site of where he came from. I don't understand very much about racing, but I do understand the love the racers have for it.


I don't even know if I made any sense or not. But it's my 2 cents worth.

You made alot of sense as you wrote what was important to you. One doesn't have to know 100% about racing as the racer learns as they race. It takes years to learn. I also have to give several writers credit for the passion they gave about Tony and his desire for his roots. Tony will always be the kid from Columbus, Indiana who when he was a toddler would only look at the racing magazines and put the others back in the basket. I read this from an interview his mother gave several years ago.
The Military Thanks You For Standing Behind Them. If You Can't Do that You Can Always Stand In Front Of Them.....Think About It.....

Thank you to those who took a step forward to save the rest who stand still.
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Annalee

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Post Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:14 pm

Re: Tony Stewart's injury viewed from one of his biggest fan

I hope this ........Tony should get to read this! It is perfectly written and definitely from the heart......I would love it if you would consider sending this to him! Buy a funny get well card and send your post to him....via SHR..6001 Haas Way Kanapolis, NC.. In fact we all should send him a funny card!! It would boost his spirits! Sounds like this could take longer to recover from than we first thought! Just a thought! :)


Being speechless when you meet him....it's called the Tony effect....a lot of us have experienced it! :lol: :lol:
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