CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and avid outdoorsman Tony Stewart was honored Saturday in a ceremony held by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Stewart was presented a 7-foot tall bronze statue of a wild turkey created by renowned artist Stefan Savides to commemorate his driving the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Wild Turkey Federation Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race. Stewart finished 17th in the 23-car event.
For Stewart, who owns a farm in his hometown of Columbus, Ind., and hosts an annual youth hunt on his property, being associated with Bass Pro Shops and the National Wild Turkey Federation has been a blessing.
|Bass Pro Shops and the NWTF presented Tony Stewart with this 7-foot trophy. (Courtesy Bass Pro Shops) |
“Without Johnny, I probably never would have owned the land that I have,” Stewart said. “As much as we love racing, you have to balance it with something that’s a little slower pace at times. And I’ve been fishing with him, not sure it’s any slower pace because we’re so competitive with each other. But to be an ambassador like this, with our passion for the outdoors, it’s just an honor to represent National Hunting and Fishing Day and the National Wild Turkey Federation.
“I’m probably more nervous about this than I have been about anything in a long time just because it’s something that’s close to my heart too.”
George Thornton, NWTF CEO, was on hand for the presentation and was thrilled Stewart was driving a car emblazoned with his organization, and that Stewart agreed to be the honorary chairman for National Hunting and Fishing Day.
“I can’t think of anybody better prepared or with more spirit in his heart to be the spokesman for the National Hunting and Fishing Day,” Thornton said. “Tony walks the talk, lives the life and is a good steward of his land, and we’re proud to be associated with him.”
Bass Pro Shops donated its sponsorship of the car as a salute to the National Wild Turkey Federation for all the organization does for wildlife habitat conservation across America and as thank you for their long-standing partnership with Bass Pro Shops.
"It is an honor for all of us at Bass Pro Shops to have Tony driving our car in the All-Star Race and especially since it salutes our good friends at the NWTF for all they do," Morris said. "I have spent a lot of time with Tony in the woods and on the water and he truly loves the outdoors so I can't think of a better person to be named honorary chair of NHF Day."
Congress established National Hunting and Fishing Day to recognize hunters and anglers for their leadership in fish and wildlife conservation. Stewart joins an elite fraternity of other celebrities that have served as honorary chairs, including Travis Tritt, Jeff Foxworthy, Arnold Palmer, and Terry Bradshaw among others. National Hunting and Fishing Day events, classes and workshops will be held Saturday, September 29 at communities and businesses all over America.
"It's a pleasure to be this year's honorary chairman of National Hunting and Fishing Day," Stewart said. "I love the outdoors and everything that goes into maintaining the outdoors. Nurturing the land is as satisfying for me as hunting and fishing.
"Giving back is something that drives me, be it in racing or with the outdoors. In order for racing to be sustainable, we have to have younger generations get involved. It's the same with the outdoors. In order for hunting and fishing to be sustainable, our land and wildlife needs to be managed and maintained, and that knowledge has to be passed on from one generation to the next."
"Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shops are extraordinary champions for conservation and our hunting heritage," Thornton said. "Placing the NWTF logo on Tony Stewart's car today is just one more way they have proven their ongoing commitment to the NWTF and to forwarding our mission. I am proud of NWTF's longtime partnership with Johnny and Bass Pro.
"I was honored to stand beside Johnny when he awarded Tony with the magnificent bronze. Tony is an excellent representative of the outdoor community and the ideal choice for honorary chairman of the 2012 National Hunting and Fishing Day."