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Oh, Go Fish! Tony Stewart’s Advice to NASCAR Fans

Author’s Note: Written mere hours before the explosions rocked the Boston Marathon, I penned this with a much lighter heart. However, the message is now even more timely. Live your life, my friends. Live it with joy and abandon, for we never know what tomorrow may bring.

Hornaday bumped Bubba Wallace into the wall. NASCAR may have it out for the Penske boys (at least, according to Mr. Keselowski). We had skewed cars and possible points and suspensions coming down. Championship caliber teams stumbled. Rookies continued to struggle and our best bad boy in the sport swept the weekend in Texas.

It was a big weekend in NASCAR. There were hours of entertainment to be had all from the comfort of my sofa. That overly familiar friend of every fan, where the remote is at hand and the fridge isn’t very far away. But can it be too comfortable?

While at Martinsville, I enjoyed the hospitality of the FanZone, which included appearances by Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. And you know how these Q&A sessions go.

“So, Tony. What did you do during the off week?”

He answered fishing. I thought fine and awesome and all that.

Then he turned the tables on the gathered fans. “How many of you fish?”

Three people raised their hands. We all laughed.

But something got in Tony’s craw just then. “What do you people do? It’s called a hobby!”

More chuckling was heard throughout the tent. Then a nice lady in the front row answered NASCAR filled that hobby slot, which I’m sure is true for many of those gathered for race day.

Tony shook his head. “No. No. There’s got to be something else. Racing is only three days a week. What else fills up your time?” He then finished off this philosophical departure from the usual “How’s your car?” questions with a typical Smoke comment. “It’s called getting up off your ass, getting out of the house and doing something. That’s a hobby.”

The inference and lesson for the day was clear: watching others compete vicariously through a 50” screen is not living. It’s not a hobby. It’s not really much of anything, even if you’ve got a fantasy league.

The more I’ve thought about it, the honest truth of Tony’s admonition has seeped into my brain. Guilt has been building. Do I spend too much time on that couch, checking Jayski and staying up to date with the Twitterverse? Is my resistance to leaving the cushioned living room causing more stress than it ought?

The answer has to be yes. Do I have hobbies? Yes, but… My garden needs far more attention than I’ve been giving it. Perennials permit me to slack off, because I’ve got auto-blooming flowers years round. All the extra time I’ve got allotted for handicrafts and other home projects seem to get eaten up by qualifying, testing, and more racing. Heading out to a concert? There’s no time!

NASCAR isn’t a hobby. It’s an obsession—one that has unbalanced my world.

Obviously, Tony uses fishing to decompress from his job. But at the same time, he recognized that obsessions like the ones us fans have are equally capable of disconnecting us from the things that make each of us unique. Do we take the time to walk away and actually talk to our friends about…anything? Is it always about the Great Race? Does it have to be?

It’s not often that I make the trek to the track and walk away from it wondering if I should reconsider how my life is unfolding. What am I missing?

It’s not about jamming more into the seemingly ever shrinking free time, it’s getting the most out of the time we have. There’s no question about it. My flower garden needs me. And I need it. I’ve simply forgotten the joy it can bring to me. Digging in the earth lets me release the stress of the work week in a way the television never does. I’m going to do it. Get out the rake, gloves, shovel and get dirty!

However, I do believe I’ve got a wireless speaker that I can feed the race broadcast into the yard…

Thus endeth the lesson today. Cheer for your team, but don’t forget that it’s actively participating in the world around us that truly makes us who we are. And who would’ve thought that Tony Stewart was a philosopher?

Kyle Larson Stat

Series: Nationwide
Track: Texas
Car: No. 32 Cessna/Bell Helicopter Chevrolet
Qualified: 12th
Finished: 32nd
Points Standings: 11th

Series: Camping World Truck Series
Track: Rockingham
Car: No. 30 Autism Speaks Chevrolet
Qualified: 3rd
Finished: 1st
Points Standings: n/a

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