Will Tony Stewart show up in Superior?

Stock car racer Trevor Wilson hung out with friends in the Amsoil Speedway parking lot on Friday night after racing in Superior had been rained out. The talk around this makeshift water cooler was all about the possibility of NASCAR star Tony Ste...

Stock car racer Trevor Wilson hung out with friends in the Amsoil Speedway parking lot on Friday night after racing in Superior had been rained out.

The talk around this makeshift water cooler was all about the possibility of NASCAR star Tony Stewart showing up in Superior for Tuesday's All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car special.

"I heard Tony Stewart is coming, and he's bringing Richard Petty with him," joked race fan Scott Quinones.

The possibility that Stewart might show up in Superior, right in the heart of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, isn't as farfetched as it might seem, and race fans know it.

Stewart, 40, is an Indiana native who has raced just about everything, including Indy cars, but is a self-described dirt tracker at heart. It isn't unusual for him to moonlight on various racing circuits midweek during the Sprint Cup season. He has raced Late Models several times at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis. He also owns his own Sprint Car team, and two weeks ago near Hamilton, Ontario, he won his first World of Outlaws Sprint Car victory.


"Some of these NASCAR guys came from dirt," Tim Christianson Jr. of Superior. "That's why they love it."

Adding to the possibility is that Amsoil Speedway promoter Joe Stariha received confirmation that Stewart's girlfriend, Jessica Zemken, a regular on the All Star Circuit of Champions, expects to compete on Tuesday in Superior.

"The girlfriend is a shoo-in, but Tony is up in the air," Christianson Jr. figured. "I think the biggest potential hang up for some of these drivers could be the weather. Nobody wants to drive all that way for a 'possible.' "

Amsoil Speedway race director Chris Stepan said Stewart is contractually obligated to be at the All Star Circuit stop on Wednesday in Fargo, N.D. Most of the top Sprint Car drivers are in Iowa this week for the Knoxville Nationals, which wraps up today, giving them time to hit Superior before moving on to Fargo, which like Superior is a series points race.

"They've got to make Fargo anyway, so why not?" said race fan Steve Liebaert of Solon Springs.

"That's the buzz," Wilson said.

Needless to say, that buzz has spread through the local racing community like wildfire, all for a $5,000-to-win show, a relatively small purse for high-level dirt track racers.

Amsoil Speedway originally planned to have the IRA Sprint Car series race in Superior two weeks ago, but the dates didn't work out and the show was cancelled. In stepped the All Star Circuit, which brings more national recognition, with drivers that have held their own against World of Outlaws competition in their winged 410 Outlaw Sprint Cars.


Among the confirmed drivers expected to compete are Sammy Swindell, Danny "The Dude" Lasoski and Jac "The Wild Child" Haudenschild, all great dirt track drivers in their own right, but nobody would be bigger than Stewart.

That is, if he shows up.

"I wish we could confirm or deny if Tony is coming, because it'd be nice to tell people, but officially, we just don't know," Stepan said. "It'd be nice if he showed up, but either way, this is still shaping up to be an incredible show. My phone has been going crazy, and the question I get the most is people asking me directions how to get here.

"So there are a lot of non-local people planning on coming. If they show up, and we get our regular group, it could be a standing-room only show."

-- Late Models are also part of Tuesday's race program, a rarity when Sprint Cars are part of the lineup, as well as Super Stocks and Midwest Modifieds. Adult tickets (13 and older ) are $30, with children 12 and under admitted free. Race time is 7 p.m.

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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