“He’ll Bite”—Veteran Insider Delivers a Masterclass in Fan Etiquette; Warns Racing Aficionados Against Antagonizing Tony Stewart

Published 10/21/2023, 11:19 AM EDT

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When three dozen cars run side by side, pushing for a win, it’s natural for the drivers to put everything on the line. During and after such intense moments, one really can’t walk up to a driver and expect them to chit-chat about the weather, or pat him on the back and joke about his on-track squabbles.

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Fans often get the chance to meet their NASCAR heroes and come back dejected. Simply because the driver didn’t turn out to be as nice as they had expected. Never meet your heroes, they say. However, that’s not true at all. According to NASCAR veteran Kenny Wallace, the trick lies in the way you approach these drivers.

Kenny Wallace’s master class in fan- etiquette

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Sitting behind the wheels of a stock car, drivers are almost like warriors, battling it out on the racetrack. But the fans tend to forget that. They bring out all their hyped-up emotions and approach the drivers like they would approach a friend in the bar. Often, that doesn’t resonate well with the drivers. And then, the fans go around calling out the drivers saying that they are discourteous or rude. Kenny Wallace, being a driver himself, could feel what goes wrong every time a fan approaches a driver.

According to the 60-year-old resident of Missouri, it just depends on how the fans approach the drivers. Wallace explained, “If you go inside the garage area, if you go to  a dirt track and you’re in the pits, when you go inside the pits and you get lucky enough to get pet passes, those drivers…me, I’m not about jacking around. Remember, we’re not in a bar. You’re not working, you’re in our zone.”

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In order to know who’s the nicest driver out there behind the garage, one must talk to the drivers with dignity. “Don’t talk sh*t to him,” said Wallace, “That’s when you’re drunk, that’s when you’re at the bar, that’s when you’re both your buddies.”

“All the drivers are good people, just approach them nicely, brag on them…racers are competitors. And whatever you do, don’t approach Tony Stewart aggressively. He’ll bite, I’ll bite. You can ask some people, I bit back too. We don’t want our a** kissed just when we’re at the racetrack, don’t bring up bad memories,” he added.

Tony Stewart has been known widely in the arena of NASCAR for his wreck-and-break attitude. Even at 52, the veteran is as active as he was in his twenties. He still races regularly and finds speed as thrilling as he once used to as a youngster.

Watch this story: Kevin Harvick Blasts Tony Stewart in Five Words for Spoiling His Last Race at Bristol

Tony Stewart doesn’t know when to retire

Even after a 20-year-long racing career in NASCAR’s top-tier racing series, 18 of which he spent driving in the Cup Series, Tony Stewart has not quit racing. His racing career started back in 1978, driving a go-kart for the first time in West Port. Since then, Smoke seems to have forgotten what it means to stop.

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His most known titles are the three that he won in NASCAR’s Cup Series. The first came after he held off Mark Martin by 38 points in 2002, the second in 2005 when he outraced Greg Biffle by 35 points and the third and perhaps the most famous one came at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he defeated Carl Edwards in a tie-breaker.

Stewart was even the IndyCar Series Champion in 1997. Before that, he had also made his name in the world of United States Auto Club (USAC) owing to his four USAC championships. He won what they called the ‘triple crown’ for the first time, by emerging victorious in Sprint, Midget, and Silver Crown USAC championships. Is there anything this man cannot do?

Recently the Stewart-Haas Racing part-owner earned 4 wins in the NHRA Drag Racing Series in a Top Alcohol Dragster, besides winning the Superstar Racing Experience event in August at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg. (Did we mention that he owns this racetrack?)

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Tony Stewart is a man of versatile talents. But he is also known for his temper. It is safe to say, that fans should think twice before meddling with him moments after he wrecks or has an on-track skirmish with a fellow competitor.

Tony Stewart’s Mentee Becomes the Mentor as He Prepares to Take Kevin Harvick’s Mantle

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Written by:

Soumyadeep Saha

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Soumyadeep Saha is a NASCAR Author at EssentiallySports. Holding a Master's degree in English literature from a top-tier university, he has always had a great affinity for writing. In the past couple of years, he has channeled his love and commitment for stock cars into building a career path in the arena of Motorsports Journalism.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal

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