We’re chronicling 100 days of Indy 500 history on #SpeedRead leading up to the historic 100th Running. With 79 days to go, we look back with native Hoosier Tony Stewart, Indy car and NASCAR champion, who visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a fan long before he arrived as a driver.
My first Indianapolis 500 memory is with my father. We were in some bus that had a luggage rack in the top of it. You had to get up at O-dark-30 to get on the bus to ride up to Indy for Race Day. They threw me up in the luggage rack. Somebody gave me a pillow and everybody started throwing their jackets on top of me to keep me warm. The ride home wasn’t nearly as cool because after a long day at the track, everybody but my dad and I were kind of rowdy. I was probably 5 years old. We sat in Turns 3 and 4. We were two rows up, right in the middle of the short chute. The hard thing was you could hardly see anything. The cars were so fast. They were a blur. But to see those cars under caution and smell the methanol fumes and everything, it was still pretty cool.
My biggest memory is just growing up and watching, loving the opportunity to get home as fast as I could. I didn’t care how much homework I had. It was the last priority when the Month of May was going on and whatever coverage was on TV. You were just glued to it. There wasn’t any one particular moment. It’s just been something that’s been a huge, huge part of my life.