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NASCAR bad boys Stewart and Busch not so bad

By admin | February 1, 2009

By Richard Allen

 

Of all the drivers in NASCAR today, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch are often regarded as the bad boys of the sport. Neither has ever been shy about stirring things up from time to time. Both have heard the boos of crowds during pre-race introductions.

However, there is another side to each of these drivers.

Tony Stewart, for all his rough edges, is one of the most charitable people in the sports world. His contributions to Kyle and Patty Petty’s Victory Junction Gang Camp have been well documented. At his Prelude to the Dream race last year at the Eldora Speedway Stewart gave $1 million to the organization set up to offer a dream experience for seriously ill children.

Since its founding in 2003 the Tony Stewart Foundation has donated over $4 million to charitable organizations. Stewart was named “Person of the Year” by NASCAR Illustrated magazine for 2008.

Stewart can even show his charitable side to fellow competitors. Last month when driver Tim McCreadie was injured during the Chili Bowl race weekend in Tulsa, Stewart offered the use of his private plane to fly the injured driver to Indianapolis for treatment. Stewart also donated the winnings from that weekend of the cars he owns to cover some of McCreadie’s medical costs.

When NASCAR fans think of Tony Stewart they typically think of the unshaven, hard nosed competitor who often upsets people when he speaks his mind. However, a deeper look reveals a person who has a giving heart, at least away from the track.

In 2008, no driver found himself the object the NASCAR patrons’ scorn than Kyle Busch.

Busch, like Stewart, has a charitable side. Last year, he gave $100,000 to ailing legendary Busch(Nationwide) Series driver Sam Ard. The former champion suffers from both Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s.

The Kyle Busch Foundation has taken orphanages under its wing. Five of those organizations have received support from Busch who not only gives money but provides the opportunity for those children to attend a NASCAR event and meet their benefactor.

Fans may enjoy booing Kyle Busch but there is nothing to boo in regard to his charity work.

Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch may do things on the track that get competitors and fans riled up but each has shown he is capable of good deeds that serve to benefit those less fortunate.

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

Topics: Articles |

9 Responses to “NASCAR bad boys Stewart and Busch not so bad”

  1. Jeff Thomas Says:
    February 1st, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    I don’t care what they do for charity, they’re both still jerks.

  2. Bonnie Says:
    February 2nd, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Tony, is a man–speaks his mine-and backs it up with his racing–. his generosity shows there is more to him than we know.
    Kyle, is not my favorite driver but he can back his attidude with his driving also. Give him a chance.

  3. SamanthaM Says:
    February 2nd, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Jeff Thomas, you can sit there and say that they’re jerks all you want, but those injured drivers, kids, animals and a lot of fans know better. If they were jerks, they wouldn’t spend money out of their own pocket to help people and animals. They wouldn’t have kids at the track from Make-A-Wish or Busch’s adopted orphanages.

    You’ve got a lot of nerve making a judgment on these two men. They play a part on Sundays…it’s the soap opera of NASCAR.

    Though I personally think Tony has crossed the line more than a few times, and Kyle has done his fair share of ticking people off, it is their actions off the track that make my decision to ultimately like these drivers and actively root for them.

    I wonder, Jeff Thomas, if you’ve ever been a jerk before?

  4. Don Says:
    February 2nd, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Jeff
    They may be Jerks in your eyes, but they are both real Racers, we need more like them. As far a charity goes, most, if not all drivers do their share.

  5. Jeff Thomas Says:
    February 3rd, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Samantha,
    If you’re asking if I’ve ever shoved down innocent track workers or photographers who were just doing their jobs(TS) or if I’ve ever given an obscene gesture to another crew in front of a grandstand of 50,000 people and complain constantly about all the terrible things involved with driving a race car which allows me to live a lifestyle that 99% of Americans will never experience(KB), then no I’ve never been a jerk.

    It always amazes me how classless people who happen to have money like to make a couple of charity appearances here and there and throw a small percentage of their wealth around and suddenly, they’re great humanitarians.

    Money can’t buy class and these two prove it.

    And Don, I’ll bet we could find 100 guys toiling at a local track somewhere who could be “real racers” and not do the stuff I mentioned above.

  6. George Says:
    February 4th, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Jeff,

    At least your second post was more compelling than your first. The events you describe involving Tony and Kyle did happen, yes. Those might not be consistant with ‘good boy’ behavior, but at least they’re not breaking the law. It’s an example that no human being is perfect, not even Dale Jr. who everybody will worship and never use the word “jerk” in the same sentance, no matter what he does. I guess it’s ok for Dale Jr. to publicly blast track owners, claiming that they don’t do their jobs, never did do their jobs, simply because somebody suggested that drivers don’t do more for the fans. Way to re-direct the blame, Dale, instead of using your God-like popularity to address the issues. Way to re-direct the focus of the article not unlike your boy Dale Jr.

  7. John Says:
    February 4th, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    I am sure Allen Iverson gives to charity. I am sure Ray Lewis gives to charity. How difficult is it? People in the media are looked down upon if they do not give to charity. There is some peer pressure to do so. Most agents require their clients to donate to some type of charity. KC is hated because he is arrogant. He is young and naive and needs to grow up a bit. I fully expect him to become just a tad bit more modest in the next 10 years. He at this point is like Lightning McQueen before the jail sentence. He just needs to learn as McQueen did to be a tad more modest.

  8. Jeff Thomas Says:
    February 4th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    George,

    You are the second person on this site to accuse me of being a Junior fan. As I responded to the other guy, I am not a Junior fan. Unlike them, I live in a world based in reality

  9. George Says:
    February 4th, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Jeff, I apologize for accusing you of being a Junior fan. The logical presentation in your last two posts could in no way shape or form be associated with any Dale Earnhardt fan, Jr. or Sr. With that clarified, my post would pretty much remain the same, sans the last sentence. I suppose I am guilty of over-generalization as most people that hate Kyle Busch are Junior fans. Tony, not so much, as he and Dale Jr. have had a relatively decent relationship throughout the years. At any rate, just to add to my previous post, Tony Stewart has really mellowed out in recent years, save from dropping an S-bomb during the post-race interview at the Brickyard in ‘07. Kyle comes across as arrogant and cocky, and probably pisses a lot of people off with his signature bow. But that’s his thing, kinda like Carl has his backflip, Kulwicky had the Polish victory lap, Tony climbs the fence, etc. He provides a bit of controversy with his actions and commentary, but that is good for the sport. That said, his actions (as long as he’s not breaking the law) should not supercede his charitable contributions, despite the fact that athletes and public figures are more or less obligated to participate in such activities.