When the Empire Super Sprints pull into Glen Ridge Motorsports Park for their first-ever visit tonight, they may find a Sprint Cup driver tagging along.
Tony Stewart is expected to make a surprise visit, driving one of the sprint cars that he provides for local female racer Jessica Zemken.
Zemken joined Tony Stewart Racing last winter, with Stewart taking over Zemken’s former team and providing equipment and technical assistance. Both Stewart and Zemken are scheduled to compete in the ESS show tonight.
“He might be here,” was all promoter Mike Romano would say on Thursday night. But Romano did say that the track was beefing up its security in anticipation of Stewart’s visit.
The Sprint Cup series is in Loudon, N.H., this weekend, and qualifying for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 will be held at 3 this afternoon. That would leave Stewart with plenty of time to helicopter to Glen for the show at the Ridge, which begins at 7 p.m.
Stewart is no stanger to dirt track racing, as he ran numerous USAC shows on dirt before making the move to NASCAR.
In 2002, he won the I Love NY 358 championship at Lebanon Valley Speedway, driving the Team Goewey GE Sealants small block. He started on the pole for that race, and led all 100 laps.
As the owner of Eldora Speedway, Stewart annually stages the Prelude to a Dream, a charity race at the Ohio dirt track that draws many of the Sprint Cup competitors.
Stewart owns a dirt late-model Chevrolet Impala that he races frequently. He has also won a World of Outlaws sprint car championship as an owner with Donny Schatz in 2008. The team is now a two-car operation with Schatz and Kraig Kinser.
Stewart is one of the most decorated drivers in racing. Besides winning the Indy Racing League championship in 1997, he is also a two-time Sprint Cup champion (2002, 2005).
He also has the distinction of being named Rookie of he Year in three different organizations (USAC, 1991; IRL, 1996; Sprint Cup, 1999).