By now, through a colossal number of “shares” on a variety of social media, most race fans have seen the photo of Tony Stewart dressed in a Halloween costume as a hairy version of Carmen Miranda.
For the owner/driver at Stewart-Haas Racing, Halloween has always been a special occasion, as well as a source of adventure and competition during his childhood.
“We took it really serious,” Stewart told Steve Richards of Performance Racing Network. “We made sure that, whatever we were going to wear, we could ride our bicycles. And we would clean out our whole neighborhood—every house in the neighborhood through bikes—and then we would start on the next neighborhoods and get home two hours later than our parents wanted us to.
“We literally would have trash bags full of candy when we got home. I wasn’t a big candy kid. It wasn’t about eating the candy. It was more about the adventure of getting it all.”
Stewart and his friends made sure to wear costumes that wouldn’t interfere with pedaling a bike.
“This is how bad we were ... we wouldn’t even go back out the driveway over the street to the next driveway and back in,” Stewart said. “We would cut through the yards to go door-to-door, which wasn’t very popular, but like I said, we were kids, and we wanted candy.”
When he finally returned home, Stewart would have a metal trash can bag full of candy.
“Not your little kitchen trash bags,” Stewart said. “We were serious about it. We weren’t playing. When we did it, they knew we were there.
“That was probably the only time all year that my sister actually liked me. I was a typical brother. I went through and got what I wanted out of it first and then let her have the entire rest of it. I was her only and favorite brother for that night, and then we were back to the Tom and Jerry act the next day.”
Halloween at Martinsville Speedway, however, wasn’t a happy occasion for the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. Late in the early-morning practice session at the .526-mile track, Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet slid into the Turn 1 wall, forcing his team to roll out a backup car.
Stewart will give up his 13th-place starting position for the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 on Sunday (1:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN) and take the green flag from the rear of the field.