Tony Stewart Foundation’s Team One Cure to support Indy 500 entry

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There’s always been the lingering question that once Tony Stewart retired from full-time NASCAR driving wondering whether he’d be back at the Indianapolis 500, as he raced it five times from 1996 through 2001.

Indeed he is for 2017, although not as a driver.

Stewart’s newly launched Team One Cure, part of The Tony Stewart Foundation, will have an entry in this year’s 101st running of the race, in what will be Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ No. 77 entry. SPM will have Honda aero kits and engines this season.

This confirms SPM’s third car in the race for a fifth year running; previous third drivers have been Katherine Legge (2013), Jacques Villeneuve (2014), Conor Daly (2015) and Oriol Servia (2016). This year’s driver will be revealed soon.

Team One Cure follows on from Stewart’s philanthropic work, which has been known within some racing circles but not a widespread audience.

Stewart has always been an advocate for children and animals, especially those facing serious illness. When introduced to the Colorado State University Flint Animal Cancer Center (FACC) and how it is developing cutting edge cancer treatments for people and pets, Tony was moved to action. To create awareness, enthusiasm and understanding of the FACC and their partners in comparative oncology, Team One Cure was launched.

“We learned that with the One Cure program, cancer treatment breakthroughs are happening through collaboration between scientists and doctors working with both people and pets,” Stewart said in a release. “It perfectly fits with my foundation’s missions to help children and animals. Sam Schmidt represents the very best in an injured racer overcoming adversity, plus we share the passion to win at IMS.”

Schmidt, team co-owner, added, “Very pleased to be participating in the 101st Running of the Indy 500 with such a fantastic program as Team One Cure. Tony is the most generous guy I know in motorsports, and his charitable efforts on behalf of children and animals in need is unbelievable, so this is a perfect fit. With the team at Colorado State University making such huge strides in cancer research, this will truly be a cause we can get behind. That, combined with both of our extreme desires to win this race, should make for a really competitive entry.”

No mention was made of 2016 SPM partner Will Marotti within this release, via his Marotti Racing entry which was part of SPM’s No. 77 Honda last year. The Connecticut pastor recently released a video announcing his plans to return to the 2017 Indianapolis 500, which reveals a rendering of a “God Bless America” adorned No. 77 Honda, and asking viewers to go to his website for further information.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”