I had a blast hanging with NASCAR champion Tony Stewart Today.
The driver of the #20 Home Depot car hosted the Tony Stewart Smoke Show at Texas Motor Speedway.
SLIDESHOW: Tony Stewart Smoke Show At TMS
It was basically a racing fantasy camp for the media. Marty Smith from ESPN’s NASCAR Now, Tim Colishaw of the Morning News, Brian Estridge of ESPN 103.3 FM, and our own Derek Castillo of NBC 5 were among the media clebs to join me on the Smoke Show.
Mike Starr of Team Texas Racing did a great job of showing us what we needed to do as we drove a real stock car around the TMS track. My instructor was the best. He rode with me and got my speed up to 136 MPH.
I had never rode or driven around TMS. TV does not do NASCAR justice.
It was an incredible thrill.
I turned the 4th fastest lap of the 17 drivers. Not bad for my first time ever in a stock car.
I could never do that for three hours or worse, in a crowd of 40 other drivers on the track.
Then we all got to ride 3 laps WITH Tony Stewart. He goes fast. Stewart is one talented guy. You have to be strong and in shape to drive that car for three hours. I will never look NASCAR the same way.
Tony drove me around the track and it felt like we were going to slam into the wall, but he never touched it. That is why he is a champion, professionals make it look easy. I think driving fast in a safe environment is fun. It is a rush.
After that, we got to climb the wall like Stewart does after a win and then we hit victory lane. We put on the different hats and shoot the guns like Stewart and others do after they win at TMS.
Eddie Gossage and Mike Zizzo got us fire suits with our names on them. We had our own locker with our name plate. Man, they went first class.
I hope Tony Stewart comes back next year and does the Smoke Show again. Tony was a lot of fun to be around. He cracked jokes, he coached us and really got into the event. The man has a passion for racing and it showed.
I know he gets a rap as being moody and a guy who speaks first and thinks second, but the Stewart is great for the sport and he really did a great job of making me and others who cover the sport see what goes on in their world.