Tony Stewart

Stewart’s sprint car win excites Michigan dirt track owner, fans

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Tri-City Motor Speedway (Auburn, Mich.) owner Steve Puvalowski wasn’t exactly sure what to make of the giant hauler bearing the word “Smoke” when it pulled into his track yesterday afternoon.

But it eventually became clear that a very special guest would be coming to race.

Last night at Tri-City, three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart returned to sprint car racing for the first time since his season-ending crash last year at the Southern Iowa Speedway.

After finishing second in his heat, Stewart was able to make a late charge to the front in last night’s Sprints on Dirt feature before winning in front of a jacked-up, near-capacity crowd.

“I don’t know how he chose Tri-City to come race at,” Puvalowski said to the Midland (Mich.) Daily News. “I know he’s raced with Sprints on Dirt before. I’m pretty sure it was at Plymouth Speedway in Ohio.”

But while Puvalowski couldn’t figure out why Stewart decided to show up to Tri-City, you can bet that he and the fans in attendance were more than happy to have him visit.

“He’s a real nice guy, and this kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (for our racetrack) – it was definitely a great crowd pleaser,” he said, adding that Stewart signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans for a short time in post-race.

“People loved it. It was a great race. There was a lot of action going on. It was a great race by itself, and having Tony Stewart there made it an awesome race.”

And Stewart’s apparently not done with his dirt-track fun on this off-weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. According to’s Tom Jensen, Stewart is competing tonight in another Sprints on Dirt event at Crystal (Mich.) Motor Speedway.

In addition, noted sprint car racing site has tweeted tonight’s SOD roster at Crystal, with Stewart and his familiar No. 14 on it:

Indeed, Stewart is remaining true to his word after vowing back in May that his big wreck wouldn’t stop him from doing what he wants.

“I’m going to live my life,” he said at the time. “It’s nobody else’s decision, but mine. I think there are a lot worse things I could be doing with my life than what I choose to do.”

NHRA: New book a celebration of life, love and drag racing

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The overpowering smell from nitromethane that powers Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars in the National Hot Rod Association oftentimes brings fans to tears after getting a whiff of the stuff.

Now there’s a new inspirational book that will also bring tears to the eyes of die-hard drag racing fans.

Veteran crew chief Jim Oberhofer has released “Top Fuel For Life, Life Lessons From A Crew Chief,” a touching homage to both his late wife and persevering and overcoming adversity in the highly competitive world of NHRA drag racing.

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Oberhofer wears a number of hats as vice president of one of the sport’s most veteran and successful teams, Kalitta Motorsports, including serving as crew chief for Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta’s dragster.

Oberhofer relates a number of stories about overcoming adversity in the book, but none more touching than how he watched his beloved wife “Tammy O” lose a long and painful battle to stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.

While Oberhofer has spent his life using wrenches and tools working on 10,000-horsepower engines, his new book shows that he is also a very gifted writer.

Known in the sport as “Jim O,” Oberhofer describes the fight his wife went through in gritty and descriptive prose, but with a foundation built upon what the love of his life meant to him – and continues to mean to him more than two years since she passed away.

“When you take a long hard look at your life, I guarantee you that being a winner has little to do with crossing the finish line,” Oberhofer said. “After many mistakes and a whole lot of heartache, I learned that happiness comes from a deeper, simpler place. That’s the big win.”

“Top Fuel For Life” is available on Amazon for $19.95.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Report: Ecclestone believes F1 could be sold by year’s end

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Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday said the racing series is up for sale and has as many as three potential buyers.

Ecclestone told The Associated Press that a deal could still be struck by year’s end.

“I think so, maybe this year,” Ecclestone said. “There are three people mentioned to buy. So it’s a case of whether CVC or Mr. Mackenzie wants to sell.”

Ecclestone was referring to F1’s largest and controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners co-chairman Donald Mackenzie.

But even if F1 is sold, the 84-year-old Eccelstone doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

“The people that I’ve spoken to … have asked me if I would stay,” Ecclestone told AP.

Follow @JerryBonkowski