The last time Rick Stewart, the former NHRA starter, was at the Texas Motorplex, he stood for four consecutive 15-hour days, baking in the Dallas sun while getting covered in rubber and grease.
Stewart, 71, is enjoying his new life as an administrator of honey-do lists and watching drag racing from a different viewpoint as a retiree.
“It has been a pleasurable experience,” Stewart said. “This time I get to sit down and watch the race in a nice air conditioned suite. I get to watch my heroes and the race cars running down the track. I still get to see all the wonderful people I raced with. I am thrilled to be back here.”
While Stewart admits he doesn’t mind watching the race this weekend from a comfortable setting, he sometimes misses the role he played for 15 years, a role he filled following the retirement of the legendary Buster Couch. Stewart was also a Top Fuel racer from 1962 until 1971.
“When you look at it, I’ve been involved in racing for nearly 50 years,” Stewart admitted. “And, all of a sudden, when you’re not part of it, not go to a drag strip for six months can be tough.”
The spare time, Stewart said, has been filled with other important chores.
“My wife has kept me busy with her honey-do list,” Stewart said with as smile. “Time has slipped by and before I knew it this weekend crept up on us. Got everything caught up [at home] and I’m enjoying everything.”
Stewart said he walked away at the right time but admits he wanted to stay in the sport a few years longer maybe in a different role. In the end, Stewart and the NHRA decided to go in different directions.
“It came as a shock and took me a little while to get over,” said Stewart. “We talked about it and it was a mutual thing. I’m 71 years old. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed by The Man with good health. It was just an honor and pleasure to be the one to follow behind Buster Couch.
On thing Stewart has always known, but now talks about freely is “there is life after racing. Without the real life, there would be no racing life.”
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