The Untold Story About Tony Stewart That Became the Foundation for RacingAwareness.com



POSTED OCTOBER 5, 2015: A story long before RacingAwareness.com. Where did RA come from and what was the motivation … here is your answer.

On Wednesday, Tony Stewart announced to race fans around the world that 2016 would be his last behind the wheel of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock car. Many could see the handwriting on the wall, many more hoped this day 12087764_1008284762556234_3872451188615400573_owould never come.

After the season finale in Homestead,14 months from now, NASCAR will lose one of the most talented drivers ever to strap into a racing machine of any kind. Few drivers possess the ability, drive, tenacity, desire, passion, enthusiasm, and pure heart as Stewart does. His accomplishments are many, most notably, his three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championships.

Stewart has won at every level of motorsports including a World Karting Association Championship in 1987, and in 1995 became the first driver ever to win the USAC Triple Crown. In 1997, Tony won the IRL championship before turning his attention towards a Hall of Fame career in NASCAR. Stewart has competed on “hometown” tracks and super speedways across North America ; everywhere, every weekend, giving 100%. There may be no one more charismatic than Tony Stewart!

Chances are, you already know this about Tony. You already know that he is one of our sport’s biggest stars, and you already know he is one of the greatest drivers.

Now, let us share with you a story about Tony Stewart, the person, that you might not know. This is a story not about his talents on the track but rather his heart off it. In fact, without this story, we wouldn’t be here and you wouldn’t be reading this story on RacingAwareness.com. We take you back to August 2007, when we were asked to help a boy, and now our long time friend, Tristan, fulfill his dream.

Tristan, age 10 at the time, had been living with an illness that was potentially life threatening. His family wanted to provide him with the opportunity to meet his hero, Tony Stewart.

It was Friday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway, Tristan and his family were invited to the track, and the Gordon Food Service hospitality suite that we managed, with little detail about what they were going to experience. At the same time, Tony was having a typical Friday of practice and qualifying. As the afternoon and the on track activities came to a close, the opportunity to bring Tristan and Tony together finally came. Still unbeknownst to anyone of what was next, Tristan was swept off on a golf cart for a personal whirlwind tour of the facility, while his family was escorted to the driver/owner motorcoach lot where the meeting was scheduled to occur. The anticipation for us was overwhelming as the meeting time approached.

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Tristan arrived on time, just out front of Stewart’s personal RV, but Tony wasn’t ready, so the meeting time came and passed. The group waited patiently as other drivers passed by noticing the large group. Each driver inquired if we needed assistance which quickly turned into a warm greeting, pictures and autographs for Tristan. Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, were great to meet but the hope of meeting Tony overshadowed the moment.

After watching Tony’s coach from afar and the flurry of activity that surrounded it, we weren’t sure if the meeting was meant to be, but then, as planned, Tony emerged. He approached the group, still in his fire suit and shoes and with an outstretched hand, he said ‘you must be Tristan’. The waiting and any anxiety faded instantly as Tony invited Tristan to his home away from home where he proceeded to spend the next hour with Tristan and his dad like they were long time friends. Their time together was genuinely magical. Tony also provided Tristian with a bag full of memorabilia including a 1/24th scale version of his #20, Home Depot Chevrolet.

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To conclude the visit, Tony invited Tristan and his dad to Victory Lane if he won on Sunday. For those that understand the logistics of traveling to and from MIS, getting fans to Victory Lane and that the August 2007 NASCAR Sprint Cup event at MIS wasn’t held until Tuesday due to rain, you will appreciate what happened next.

After Tristan’s visit with Tony on Friday, he and his family returned on Sunday as they had planned, however, Sunday’s event was postponed due to rain. Not expecting to see Tristan again, we were very surprised when he showed up in the suite on Monday. During that day, the rain continued and many of the race teams were exploring the suite area simply to stay dry. Then, they came across Tristan. One by one, Tristan was visited by race teams, drivers and provided tours of haulers and pit road. Watching Tristan experience this was overwhelming. But again, Mother Nature would have the final say and would postpone the event to Tuesday. As difficult as it was for them, Tristan and dad again returned on Tuesday. Tony’s chances of putting the #20 in Victory Lane at MIS were really good that year and Tristan was determined to not only see it but share it with his hero.12138389_1008273995890644_6539094138950508858_o 12087260_1008283335889710_1610499325512445667_o

The green flag finally flew on Tuesday morning, but the event was yet again delayed, this time by fog! With the red flag hanging from the starter’s stand, we all sat and waited. During the delay, the media was in search of creative stories to fill the extended broadcast. During this time we were surprised to be visited by Tristan’s new crew member friends who came up from Pit Road but also an ESPN TV crew! Yes, Tristan was even the feature of a Mike Massaro interview. He was the focus of everyone. Only a Stewart win would have made the weekend more amazing! The wish of an ill child had been fulfilled by Tony and the supporting NASCAR cast!


Tony didn’t win that day, at least not on the track. But as a person, he showed many what type of individual he is. He handed a child he didn’t know, a memory that will last a lifetime; he handed us an idea. The idea became, RacingAwareness.com supporting Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Tony has meant a lot to this RA team. In fact there might not have been an RA team if it wasn’t for the time between a child and his hero. We are not sure that Tony even knows all of this, and even if he did know, he would more than likely deflect the credit away from him, t12068453_1008284692556241_412124327653823056_ohat’s just his style.

We asked Tony, ‘with such an amazing appreciation for kids, why we don’t see this side of you played out on TV’? Stewart replied something to the effect of, it’s not about TV, or what the fans see, it’s about the kids and that’s all that matters. We couldn’t agree more.

Thank you Tony Stewart for everything you have delivered, both on and off the track! We hope you enjoy everything that the future has in store, and if returning to the Berlin Raceway should ever be in those plans, we have a car waiting.

2017 RacingAwareness.com Charity Golf Outing

The 8th Annual RacingAwareness.com Charity Golf Outing 
presented by Festida​ and Vanderhyde Ford​ is SOLD OUT for the 8th year in a row.

You can still be a part of the event through partnership, donations and auction items. To find out more, email us at racingawareness97@gmail.com

Date: Monday September 18, 2017
Tee Time: 10 a.m.
Location: Thousand Oaks Golf Club​

This golf outing supports Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital​.

Cost: $700.00 per foursome
18-hole scramble & cart
Complimentary Miller Lite happy hour follows
Cookout lunch on the course / dinner that follows
Golf prizes / raffle prizes / 50/50 raffle
Silent auction / Live auction
Sponsor opportunities available

This event has SOLD OUT each of the first seven years – find out why

For additional information, support or to reserve your foursome, email us at RacingAwareness97@gmail.com

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BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND Bring A Family To The Races, 2017 – Presented by RacingAwareness.com

Up to 10 people each week the RA cars are on the track!! 

March 1, 2017: We are excited to announce that the RacingAwareness.com “Bring A Family To The Races” promotion is back for 2017.  Last year, e6bbe4-blog12b7-10-20162b4-55-362bamvery date was filled with a deserving family and treated to a night at the track. Don’t delay, dates will go quick.

Everyone knows a family that needs a getaway from their everyday routine; an opportunity for an evening together of fun, laughter, and for making new memories. In 2017, RacingAwareness.com will make that opportunity available to families with an evening at the Berlin Raceway.

Each week that the RacingAwareness.com cars are on the track (RA schedule) at the Berlin Raceway, one family will experience the sights and sounds of short track racing and be a part of the action. This package includes complimentary general admission, hot dogs and a beverage for up to 10 people.  Plus, the RA team will add some special surprises along the way.  One package will be presented on each RA race Saturday in 2017.IMG_7372

While this opportunity is open to all, special consideration will be given to those families that have experienced hardship due to the illness or injury of a child.

Are you, or do you know of a family that is ready to spend an evening together making new memories?  If so, please contact RacingAwareness.com!  Opportunities are limited so don’t delay.  Submit your request today.  If selected, an RA representative will contact you directly using the contact information provided below.

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Ready to GO (GREEN)!

Here is a quick look at the two newest drivers for the RA Team in 2017.
* TOP: Tony Caputo – driver of the 97L Mini Wedge
* BOTTOM: Nate Walton – driver of the 66L Super Late Model
* SEE DRIVER & team stats here: https://racingawareness.com/events
This is also a new look for us. Gone is the blue (for this year), in is the GREEN.  See all of the “new look” RA cars here after we get through practice on April 15.

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2016 Charity Donation Tops $50,000

The 2016 RacingAwareness.com charity donation was delivered on March 22 to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Grand Rapids MI. and it topped $50K for the second year in a row (https://www.spectrumhealth.org/locations/spectrum-health-hospitals-helen-devos-childrens-hospital).

$43,000 went towards childhood cancer research and the http://www.NMTRC.org.
An additional $10,000 was dedicated to the HDVCH Foundation. The donations were expected by Dr. Sholler and Dr. Fahner.

The 2016 donation raises the RA total giving to HDVCH to more than $315,000 since the beginning in 2010. “This is just all about our volunteers and the West Michigan community, that without them, none of this would be possible” said RA co-owner Jeff Striegle. “We are inching our way closer and closer to a half-a-million dollars, one dollar at a time”. 


See more at: https://www.facebook.com/RacingAwareness


Tuesday November 8, 2016 – Grand Rapids, MI

Does your child or one you know, have dreams of being racing’s next superstar? Has your child or one you know, overcome illness or injury through the care of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital?  If you answered yes to both, we want to hear from you!

RacingAwareness.com announced today, the addition of a fourth car for the 2017 season at the Berlin Raceway.  The fourth RA car will be a Mini Wedge to be driven by a child, selected by RacingAwareness.com, that has an affiliation to Helen Devos Children’s Hospital.  The entire RA family is thrilled about this new addition to the team, and looks forward to welcoming this young boy or girl and their family.    

The Mini Wedge division (Mini Wedge Racing) is a new addition to the Berlin Raceway line up in 2017, racing on a portion of the front stretch in front of the main grandstands. RA will be providing, at minimum, a brand new Mini Wedge race car and trailer to the driver and their family.   Mini Wedge racing does not require a Sprint Cup Series Crew Chief or crew, just a child that wants to race and a parent or guardian that is dedicated to supporting the pursuit of their child’s dream.  

The racing window of opportunity is now open!  RacingAwareness.com is now accepting applications through Friday November 25 at noon EST, for young people interested in driving the RA 97L Mini Wedge in 2017.  

Interested parties, please send an email to RacingAwareness97@gmail.com and include the following mandatory pieces of information.  

Parent / Guardian’s information:

  • First and last name
  • Primary phone number
  • Primary email address
  • Hometown

Child’s Information

  • First and last name;
  • Birthdate;
  • Grade for the 2016-17 school year;
  • Provide detail on any motorized experience, please be as specific as possible;
  • Please provide a brief description of the child’s affiliation to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital;

Additional Information:  

  • Learn more about what to expect by visiting Mini Wedge Racing
  • Child must have an affiliation to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
  • Child must be between the age of 6 to 12 years old
  • Motorized experience; dirtbikes, ATV, go carts, helpful but not required.
  • Mini Wedge and trailer are the proerity of RacingAwareness.com
  • Safety gear, helmet and suit provided by the driver and family  
  • Car maintained by the driver and family
  • 2017 Berlin Raceway schedule has not yet been released.  

A Day to Remember – For all of us!

Saturday was a day we will all remember, not for what anyone did, but for who we met!

A letter from Rhyse’s mom …
Thank you Heather, for allowing us to share time with your son and family.

We don’t know what to say, or how to say it.  I hope our faces-at least in part–spoke of our gratitude for your organization RacingAwareness.com and for your kindness towards total strangers. The past four years have been the hardest years of our lives.  Fraught with constant illnesses, accumulating diagnoses, cancer scares, debilitating malnutrition, and health care split between two different health systems our lives have been forever changed. We have learned to live differently, love differently, and hold on a little tighter to each moment.

In the first three and a half years there were no outings, no mom and dad dates, no trips to the beach, just living in the moment–from crisis to crisis and hospitalization to hospitalization.  The past 12 months have not been easy either, with winter virus’s constantly beating his little body down, and fighting a never ending battle against weight loss, malnutrition and dehydration, despite his feeding tube.

Behind Rhyse’s cute, little smile and fire engine red hair is a fragile, medically complex little man. Rhyse was born with Noonan Syndrome. A syndrome that affects every single cell in his body, to differing degrees.  From oral aversion/dysphagia he is unable to eat anything beyond a cracker or bread so he is tube fed.  With hypotonia (poor muscle tone) he is unable to do much of what a four year, nearly five year old can do: dress and undress himself, carry anything over a pound, open and close things, snap snaps, take his shoes on or off, etc.  With ulcerative colitis he is unable to be potty trained at this time, and endures 4 hour infusions every six weeks to suppress an already broken immune system opening him up to every virus and bacteria that passes by. He has slings in his eyelids (ptosis) to hold them above his pupils.  At night he wears a body brace in a hopeful attempt at straightening his curvy spine, all the while being attached to his feeding pump.  A wicked combination that makes every single night a battle against tangled feeding tube lines and a brace that restricts his movement. And the list goes on.

Every day childhood illnesses put kids like Rhyse in the hospital. And the fear and anxiety we as a family have faced, and still live with, goes well beyond words—and yet we have joy because he is joy!  And it truly is the little things that mean the most to all of us.

In Rhyse’s world anything on four wheels is heaven on earth! For every appointment, hospitalization or procedure a carefully chosen vehicle goes with him.  He lives and breathes cars, trucks, and emergency vehicles with engines that always need fixing and whose tires go flat–and tow trucks that save the day!  Since he was very little we have always said, “he must have a car gene in there somewhere!” So, as you can imagine, treating him and his family to a night at the raceway was the penultimate gift to him and us.  When he suffers we suffer, and when he has joy, we have joy!

Again, on behalf of my family, and the entire Noonan Syndrome family around the world, THANK YOU Jeff Striegle, Dave Lake, Lisa Davan, Erika Welch and the rest of the team for your kindness, humanness, autographs, invitation to victory lane, ride in the pace truck, and the most mind blowing, gifting the trophy to Rhyse!!!! What an amazing token of unselfishness that he will remember for the rest of his life!

 “RacingAwareness.com and Racing Awareness Inc. are two separate entities that were created with the sole intent of providing children and their families from Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, of West Michigan, who are experiencing or have experienced an illness or injury of a child, a diversion from the healthcare process utilizing the sport of auto racing”. You can read all about the team, and the little boy who inspired the formation of Racing Awareness.com and Racing Awareness Inc. on their site.

Batman Returns To The Berlin Raceway!

Super Heros on a Super Night

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Friday, June 24 update to this post – Fireworks have been added!  See you there

For the third year in a row, BATMAN RETURNS to the Berlin Raceway, but this time the Caped Crusader will be bringing 16 friends to join in this celebration of kids!

Saturday Night, June 25th, it’s Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital night at the track, presented by RacingAwareness.com (a 501c3 nonprofit). See the three HDVCH cars in action, meet the drivers and experience the excitement of auto racing at one of the country’s best family friendly facilities.

Kids young and old will enjoy Spiderman, Wonder Women, Super Man and, making their first ever Berlin Raceway appearance, the Ninja Turtles! Super Heros will be ready for photos, fun and games from 5 to 8p and join the drivers during the scheduled autograph session.

Family and staff associated with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital can pick up free tickets to the event inside the library while supplies last, courtesy of RacingAwareness.com.

All kids 11 and under receive FREE admission – first 250 receive a FREE hot dog and Craig’s Cruisers activity. Racing includes, Super Late Models, Modifieds, Sportsman and 4-cylinders.  Adult tickets $12 Gates open at 3p

RacingAwareness.com is a 100% volunteer, West Michigan 501c3 nonprofit charity formed in 2010. To date RA has raised just shy of $300,000 in support of HDVCH. Financially, we support NMTRC, The Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium under the direction of Dr. Giselle Sholler MD MSC Chair, through the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. See more NMTRC on how Dr. Giselle is leading the way, worldwide, in the fight against this life threatening illness.

Scheduled to appear, Bat Man, Bat Girl, Super Man, Spider Man, Spider Women, Wonder Women, Black Widow, The Hulk, Flash, Justice, Super Girl, Pink Power Ranger, Captain America and the Ninja Turtles.

Charity Golf Outing Set for September / Thousand Oaks Golf Club

Monday September 12, 2016
What:    7th Annual RacingAwareness.com Charity Golf Outing presented by Festida Foods and Vanderhyde Ford 

Where:    Thousand Oaks Golf Course

The marquee event of the year, held at the beautiful Thousand Oaks Golf Club in Grand Rapids. The outing has been a complete sellout each of the prior six years so don’t delay in getting your foursome registered. For  information and/or to register, contact us at talktous@racingawareness.com
RacingAwareness.com charity golf outing proceeds support The Neuroblastoma and         Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium under the direction of Dr. Giselle Sholler MD MSC Chair, through the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. See more at  NMTRC  RacingAwareness.com is a 100% volunteer 501c3 nonprofit charity. All financial partnerships are charitable donations

Cost: $700 per foursome
Cost includes, golf, cart, lunch, happy hour, dinner,  auction and more.

Get involved in West Michigan and the health of our children by becoming a Team RA Charity Partner:

Recognition as key sponsor on all promotions materials including but limited to:
• Headline inclusion on all golf outing invitations, facebook and website messaging
• Two (2) complimentary foursomes
• One on course and clubhouse entrance signage 4’ by 8’
• Tee sign sponsor with location preference
• Recognition on Champions Trophy Display
• Recognition and signage / Clubhouse / Dinner
• Company sponsorship gift

• Recognition on all golf outing invitations, facebook and website messaging
• One complimentary foursome
• Tee sign sponsor of hole with location preference
• Recognition as lunch or appetizer sponsor
• Recognition on Champions Trophy Display
• Company sponsorship gift

• One complimentary foursome
• Tee sign sponsor of hole
• Recognition on Chairman’s Round-table Display

• One complimentary foursome
• Tee sign sponsor of hole

Choose one of the following sponsorship’s:
• Tee sign sponsor of hole, with a booth at the tee
• Longest Drive Sponsor
• Longest Putt Sponsor
• Closest to the Pin Sponsor
• Putting Green Sponsor
• Beverage Cart Sponsor

• Tee sign sponsor of hole