Tony Stewart, who left sprint car racing after the tragic accident in which his car struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. on an upstate New York track, has reentered the sport by buying the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series.
Stewart already owns the Eldora Speedway and cars driven by World of Outlaws perennial champion Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz, and now adds to his portfolio the original winged sprint car tour.
On Wednesday, Stewart said, “My passion for sprint car racing is well known, and the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series has been a pillar of the sport for a long time. Racing is my business, and I look forward to building on the All Star Series’ already impressive legacy by taking it to a new level of success and sustainability.”
Guy Webb, the previous majority owner of the series, was relieved to hand over control to someone so passionate about the sport, saying, “I’ve put my heart and soul into the All Star Circuit of Champions for many years, and it gives me great peace of mind to hand over the reins of this series to Tony Stewart. Tony is dirt track racing’s biggest advocate, and he’s always working in the best interest of sprint car racing. His leadership will ensure the success of this series for many years to come.”
Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion, acknowledged that his sprint-car driving days may be over; after missing the last 15 races of the NASCAR season due to a broken leg suffered in a 2013 sprint car accident in Iowa, four surgeries were performed on his right leg, and he’ll need a fifth to remove a titanium rod. When asked about driving sprint cars again, he said bluntly, “I think it’s going to be a long, long time before you see me back in one.”
Still, his new adventure has Stewart excited after the aftermath of the tragedy last August. He said, “Obviously, the last few years of my life I wouldn’t mind forgetting, but this is something that allows me to be involved with Sprint Car racing where I can be more than the owner of a World of Outlaws team and a speedway. I can go to more races and be passionate. I would like nothing more than to be in the seat, but that won’t happen for some time. This allows me to be around it, and that is a product of doing something with these guys and it fills a void.”
The deal struck by Stewart has greater implications than just revivifying Stewart; Stewart bought the Renegades of the rival Renegade Sprint Series and their All Star interest, thus coalescing the two series into one, the All Star Circuit of Champions.
The new 2015 UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions schedule of 50 races will boast a national point fund of over $100,000. It will commence at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida, then travel to Volusia Speedway Park near Barberville, Florida. Those two races will not count for points because ownership will still be transitioning. The first race that will count will be held in Rossburg, Ohio, at Eldora Speedway.
Roger Slack, Promoter and General Manager of Eldora Speedway, who created the 55-race master schedule, said:
The complexity of it was to do it quietly and try to be honest with everybody. We compiled a spread sheet of 11 different columns of notes and schedules.It was working with the World of Outlaws, existing All Star and Renegade dates, Ohio tracks, Pennsylvania notes, Pennsylvania Speed Week notes, USAC notes … everything. We had to be mindful of the NASCAR schedule. The great thing was that everyone knew what we were up against and cooperated. Everybody knew the goal was to save a legendary brand. The All Star name is important to the history of the sport, and no one wanted to lose it.