Following the announcement that Crown Royal will sponsor the Kings Royal winged sprint car event at Eldora Speedway on July 15, The Kings Royal by Crown Royal, TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS visited with the ...
Following the announcement that Crown Royal will sponsor the Kings Royal winged sprint car event at Eldora Speedway on July 15, The Kings Royal by Crown Royal, TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS visited with the media.
This is huge, with so many more drivers like Kenny Schrader, Dale (Earnhardt), Jr., Dave Blaney, myself owing race tracks having corporate sponsorship be able to come down to the grassroots level. A lot of people that come to our facilities are families that can't afford to go to a NASCAR race. Having Crown Royal have involvement with what we are doing, not only at the short track level, but with what they are doing on the national level with NASCAR, really ties it all together and it really makes sense. They have been able to do things for the participants as well.
WILL BOTH WOO AND NST DRIVERS PARTICIPATE IN THE KINGS ROYAL EVENT?
"We hope so. Obviously, my team will be there and Steve Kinser has already committed to participate. Having Steve's involvement I think shows how much the Kings Royal event means to everybody, no matter which sanctioning body they have come from."
ARE YOU GOING TO GET BEHIND THE WHEEL?
No. If I were to get behind the wheel, I would probably mid-pack in the C Main. Trust me. I ran a winged car there at Eldora last year for the first time. I ran a 360 motor, not even a 410, and gained a huge, huge respect for those guys. I have been running a lot of the 360 races trying to get ready for a 410 but even though I am a Nextel Cup driver and ran Indy Cars, I am not ready to run a 410 sprint car around Eldora. It is one of those places that is very intimidating in a sprint car like that.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE SEEN AS A TRACK OWNER AND TRACK PROMOTER?
"Well, it was probably the first night, the women's rest room in the pits being stopped up. So, the first night I realized it was a lot more than just turning on the lights, open the gates, sell tickets, hot dogs and the race goes fine. I have been there this week working on catchfence design. We are getting ready to expand the restrooms on the grandstand side; it is a big project to double the size to handle the capacity. I am just excited about it. I have learned so much, that now when I come to a NASCAR race, it has helped me to understand why things are done the way they are. Now that I own a race track, I kind of understand why things are done a little differently. Just learning about al the different aspects of a race. I have been to Eldora as a driver, a crew member, a spectator, as a team owner and now as the promoter. When I go there, whoever comes up and talks to me, I can at least try to look at their side and understand their side. I love it. I really do enjoy it. There is going to be a day that I am not going to be able to drive race cars any more and you sit there and wonder well what are you going to do with the rest of your life. I have something now that I can dedicate the race of my life to helping what got me to this level. To help other drivers come through Eldora Speedway in their quest to get here also."
SO ARE BIG PRE-RACE SHOWS NEXT?
"I don't think we are going to have military come do shows because we don't have a big enough infield. It is fun. It teaches you all kinds of things. There are so many things that you learn from these bigger promoters at NASCAR races. You learn what to look for and what aspects are really important when promoting at the short track level.
WHEN YOU WERE COMING UP THROUGH THE RANKS, WAS THERE ANYTHING COMPARABLE SPONSOR-WISE TO THIS?
"No, we never had anything this big. I am very thankful that we have been able to do on the Cup side has been able to attract some of these sponsors to the short track side. The response back from our sponsors last year, Old Spice, Home Depot, Coca Cola, those companies didn't realize how big it really could be. I think it has opened up the eyes of corporate American about not only what they can do in NASCAR racing, but for a fraction of the cost, what they can really gain at the short track level, how much value there really is at the local level.
IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE RIGHT NOW THAT WE SHOULD KEEP OUR EYE ON TO BE THE NEXT TONY STEWART OR KASEY KAHNE?
"Man I hope there not another one like Tony Stewart, I hope they are more like Kasey Kahne, he never gets mad at any thing. No, he did get mad at Kyle Busch once. Trust me, that's one thing as a short track owner that I look at. Who are the next guys coming up? And they are out there. The hard thing is that Cup teams are hiring these kids at the age of 15 and 16, it is starting to catch up to all professional sports."
DON'T A LOT OF SHORT TRACKS HAVE A HARD TIME GETTING SPONSORSHIP?
"Obviously we do have a different angle that other short tracks don't because of who we are with NASCAR. Hopefully what we are doing is opening the eyes of corporate America to the value of short track racing. Even if they only run through 100,000 or 150,000 people through their grandstands a year, that is very important because it is the same amount of people they run through on one Cup weekend at a lot of tracks. Even though it is done through the length of a season, we actually put through more than that, a typical race track if they can put through that many people, it is important. At that small of a level, it is an affordable price for corporate America that can make a huge impact on the sport."
IS THERE GOING TO BE TV FOR YOUR EVENT?
"We are trying to work with SPEED and the Outdoor Channel to see if we can get more TV races at Eldora at some point. I think with the sponsorships that are coming in, that can help us bring TV to the facility and make it a bigger event for our sponsors. We don't have anything currently planned. What we have been mainly focused on last year and this year are what improvements we can make to the facility to dress it up and make it when we get TV there, we can make a huge impression."
DO YOU HAVE A LIST OF THE DRIVERS WHO WILL RUN THE CELEBRITY RACE PRIOR TO "THE DREAM" AT ELDORA?
"We have a list: Ryan Newman, Kyle Petty, J.J. Yeley, Denny Hamlin, Kenny Wallace, Ken Schrader, Dave Blaney, Red Farmer, Ron Capps, Elliott Sadler--we will keep updating the list on the website. Tickets don't actually go on sale this Sunday. I don't want televise that event, people had so much fun coming to that event, it was our second biggest event of the year. I think the atmosphere that was created around that was so huge, I don't think you can recreate it and truly appreciate what happened without being there and actually seeing it. It was so much fun to see guys like Kevin Harvick who literally was shaking when he buckled in his car. I have never seen Kevin nervous in my life, but I was standing there when he buckled in his car and his hands were shaking. I asked him what he was so nervous about, that we run around Bristol faster than he was going to go here. He told me he knew what he was doing at Bristol; he didn't know what he was doing there at Eldora. I told him not to worry, it would come to him. Then the bill came to me for the car he destroyed, $9,000 later.
I asked him if he was going to come back to the race this year and he said no, I don't think I am going to go this year. I asked him why. Don't you want to drive? He said no, he didn't think he wanted to drive. I told him, hey, I have $9,000 invested in your dirt late model career. You have to come back. I am trying to convince him to come back. I have a good friend in Georgia that has a dirt late model school, not that he needs driving school of any kind, he just needs laps and practice so we are going to let him run laps to practice and get comfortable.
Matt Kenseth who I don't believe had ever been on dirt in his life, he ran Eldora like he had run Eldora all of his life. He drug the bumper on the wall in qualifying and that is the fast guys qualify there. It was kinda like we were all at a Cup race. We were sitting in the pits -- there wasn't really a specific draw for qualifying. You just kind of went when you wanted to. I was just going to go last and everyone who went out set quick time and the place would just erupt when someone went faster and had quick time. It is such a neat event. I know Mark Martin wants to come this year. We are going to invite Rusty Wallace, see if we can drag him out of part-time retirement and put him in some selected events and let him have fun. My goal is to have 24 guys come to this event this year and from what I learned last year, I think it is something that is just going to be bigger and better."
DO YOU THINK THE NO. 8 DALE, JR. TEAM IS BETTER THIS YEAR? DO YOU HAVE A COMMENT ON HIS FINISH LAST WEEK?
"I have no idea, I didn't see him, I was in my car. I don't know, as competitive as this series is now, you don't have time to focus on what everybody else is doing out there you. I have to concentrate on what our team is doing. I know that sounds simple and easy but I had no idea that he was up to where he was last week until the end of the day let alone where their program is. I don't know where he has finished all year we have been so focused on how program. Honestly, that is kind of our motto anyway, if we are focused on what everybody else is doing and paying attention to what everybody else is doing, we should be dedicating that time to what we are doing, not what everyone else is doing."
HOW GOOD WOULD IT BE TO CHECK TEXAS OFF THE LIST OF PLACES YOU HAVEN'T HAD A WIN?
"It would be kind of nice to see how my head looks in a cowboy hat and leave it at that."
IS TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ONE OF THE HAIRIEST PLACES YOU GUYS RACE?
"I don't know that it is hairy. It is a nice smooth race track. The only bumps are in turns one and two. Other than that, that is pretty much all you deal with. It is pretty much the same over the years; it really hasn't changed a lot.