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.
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