Tony Stewart hasn’t won a cup race this season, but he’s still in the running to make The Chase and a run at his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.
The main reason for that fortune, Smoke is consistent with nine Top 10 finishes in the 23 races.
I know what you’re thinking, a known “ bad boy” of NASCAR should be anything but predictable. But that consistency on the track is just a part of who Smoke is. Every year you can also count on him to participate in dozens of charity events, including the annual Smoke Show at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I’ve worked with Eddie (Gossage) and his staff for four years. This is a long hot day, but it’s the closest experience to actually being a driver. On top of that, to know the amount of money we've raised in the last four years is pretty phenomenal. Just to take a day out of our schedule, it’s a fun day to know the amount of money we're raising for these kids in Texas, it’s well worth the time spent," Stewart said.
The NASCAR fantasy camp is the highest-grossing, single-day event for the Speedway Children’s Charities Texas Chapter. This year, $131,000 was raised. Since it started in 2008, the Smoke Show has raised nearly $1 million, all helping kids in North Texas.
Participants do it all, from a drivers meeting, to pre- and post-race celebrations, two 10-lap driving sessions in a stock car and a ride around the track with Stewart.
Marc Centanni has participated all four years of the event.
"It never gets old. It’s the most exhilarating thing you could do in your whole life,” Centanni said. “It's the best thrill ride you could go on in your whole life."
I participated in the driving experience and served as hostess for the dinner and auction that evening.
Along with Stewart and track president, Eddie Gossage, we presented participants with certificates for their fastest lap and hosted a live-auction full of NASCAR memorabilia.
“The item that drew the highest bid of the evening was a pair of tickets to Stewart's suite at the 2012 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which sold for $8,000,” according to Jaime Carlin.
Carlin is the exec. Director of the Speedway Children's Charities' Texas branch.
"The NASCAR community is filled with some of the most passionate, philanthropic individuals and it's because of them that this event continues to be a success year after year," Carlin said. "We are very fortunate to have a driver like Tony with such a big heart to volunteer his time for us so that we can continue to touch the lives of children in North Texas."
The event was capped off with a blackjack tournament where the winner went home with the ultimate experience, a AAA Texas 500 VIP package for the race in November courtesy of Stewart and Texas Motor Speedway.
For more information on the "Smoke Show," contact Speedway Children's Charities-Texas Chapter at 817-215-8564 or visit www.scctexas.org.