COLUMBUS, Ind. — The racer in three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart wants to get back on track, but the businessman in Stewart has been hard at work since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Stewart, who owns the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint car tour and Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in addition to serving as co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing in NASCAR, has had to balance all three businesses and work to keep them functioning since sports came to a halt amid the pandemic.
While it hasn’t been a simple task, Stewart told SPEED SPORT that making sure his companies survive the current shutdown and subsequent economic ripples has been the overarching priority.
“Our main goal through this whole thing has been trying to make sure that we take care of the business first, because if we don’t take care of the business first, then we’re not going to have the ability to take care of our employees,” Stewart said. “In saying that, the front of my mind has been filled with how we take care of all of our employees through this because they’re all a part of my family now. I have more than 400 people that I employ between all the entities that I have. So with that in mind, it’s been think about those people first.
“If I don’t do the right things with the business, nothing will ultimately matter,” he continued. “I can’t help my employees if I don’t have a business that can sustain it, so that’s been our primary focus.”
In that process, Stewart has been quick to make sure he has altered the day-to-day flow and the livelihood of his workers as little as possible, to try and ensure normalcy for each of them.
“Everything that we’re doing, we’ve tried to make sure that we disrupt everything from the employee side as little as possible, knowing financially that they have bills to pay and families to feed,” said Stewart. “It has been a balancing act, making sure that we’re doing the right things, business-wise, to ensure that it’s going to stay solid enough to make sure that we can take care of our employees. I think once we get to the end of this, the NASCAR side … I don’t think I have as much fear of what’s happening there because it’s just a matter of handling the logistics of doing everything that we need to do to accommodate (the revised schedule). I feel like we have all the right people in the right places to be able to do that.
“On the All Star side, it’s a little more worrisome from not from handling our employees as much, but we still have to take care of them as much as we pay attention to what happens in the rest of the industry.”
In an environment where the people surrounding a team are vital to success, Stewart pointed to two of his brightest business minds who are keeping his teams and series afloat through the uncertainty of the pandemic.
“The one thing that’s comforting to me through this whole thing is that I have really good people that work for us on the financial side. Brett and Jared Frood really are my main guys on the business side — Brett single-handedly takes care of the SHR side and controls the majority of the TSR side, as well, and his brother Jared is 100% the guy on the All Star side that keeps that deal going strong. They’ve been huge throughout this whole situation and how it has evolved since March.
“I think honestly they’ve been focused on handling what we have to do to keep the businesses open right now, and making sure we’re still going to be able to have teams when we weather the storm here,” Stewart added. “Having two business guys like that on staff that know how to make the right decisions make it a lot easier for me to sleep at night not having to worry about things, because I know they have things under control as best they can.”
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