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Tony Stewart is doing a good thing

By admin | June 1, 2008

By Richard Allen

 

When it comes to media coverage Tony Stewart gets a great deal of attention for negative things. Whether it be run ins with other drivers, butting heads with NASCAR or lashing out at tire manufacturers, his opinions and actions are well publicized.

However, Stewart has another side that is also discussed but is easily overlooked or forgotten when something negative flares up. His “good side” is about to be most visible this coming week. On June 4th at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio Stewart will again promote the Old Spice Prelude to the Dream.

This is a great event due to the fact that proceeds raised go to support Kyle and Patti Petty’s Victory Junction Gang Camp. Stewart has been a long time supporter of the camp which serves seriously ill children by providing them a place where dreams can be fulfilled. Needless to say, helping such a place is a good thing and worthy of praise.

However, the point I want to make about the good Stewart is doing is that he is reminding us all about the roots of racing.

While drivers may dream about Daytona, Indianapolis or Charlotte, most of them begin by racing at places like Eldora. Short dirt or asphalt tracks like this one are the back bone of racing.

Even though they are very young when they reach the “big time” nowadays drivers have spent many afternoons and evenings honing their skills on 1/3 mile type tracks all over the country, before they even reach the legal highway driving age in many cases.

For that matter, many fans begin on tracks such as this as well. I began going to races in the east Tennessee area before I was old enough to even remember. My dad and I spent many Friday and Saturday nights at the Atomic Raceway, Smoky Mountain Raceway or Newport Raceway. I had seen dozens of 25-50 lap features before I attended my first “big race” in Bristol in 1978 at the age of eleven.

If you do not follow local racing because it does not have the star power of big time racing “The Prelude to the Dream” may be just the event for you. Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and last year’s winner, Carl Edwards are just a few of the super stars who will be on hand this Wednesday night.

Who knows? You may watch and like what you see so much that you decide to head out to your nearest local track this weekend.

So, thank you Tony Stewart for bringing local short track racing to the forefront.

The race will air on a pay per view basis. Check with your local cable or satellite provider, and remember, proceeds go to a most worthy cause.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

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