February 4, 2013 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Rochester Knighthawks
Three-time NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart was an honorary captain for the Rochester Knighthawks during their 7-6 win over Washington at The Blue Cross Arena on Saturday.
Not only was it Stewart's first Knighthawks game, but it was the first lacrosse game he had attended live. Admittedly, he is now Rochester's newest fan.
"It's everything that you like about hockey, but stuff you miss with hockey you get with lacrosse," Stewart said. "The great thing is they informed me that I can watch it on YouTube live, so while we're on the Cup circuit now until April, we're going to be following them on the weekends.
"Nothing beats watching them live, but with our schedule and being gone on the weekends, at least we can watch."
Stewart is used to trading paint with other drivers at speeds topping 200 miles per hour, but the man they call "Smoke" is not willing to take his chances on the turf.
"If they would let me drive, I would have a shot," said Stewart with a laugh. "I'm way too slow. I have a feeling I'd have a lot of bumps and bruises. I would probably get beaten to death with the ball because I'm not fast enough to even get out of the way. That would be the biggest concern I'd have as a player."
Prior to the game, approximately 90 fans attended a Meet and Greet session with Stewart at the Radisson Riverside Hotel.
"The kids like NASCAR," said Knighthawks season ticket holder Michel Maley of Irondequoit, who attended the Meet and Greet with his two sons. "They like Tony Stewart as well. Knighthawks and Tony Stewart together, it's perfect."
Danielle Boehm's family members are all fans of NASCAR, and although they each have a different favorite driver, she is diehard Stewart fan.
"My entire family watches NASCAR every Sunday," said Boehm, a Webster resident. "We pretty much all have a different driver, so when we all get together on Sundays, we all just have a fit."
"He's very down-to-earth, very genuine," she added.
Jodi Brown of Palmyra, Wayne County, came to the Meet and Greet dressed head-to-toe in Stewart apparel. She became a fan of Stewart after Dale Jarrett retired from NASCAR, and described meeting her favorite racecar driver as a "dream come true."
"I absolutely love Tony Stewart," Brown said. "After watching Tony and some of his antics on the track, I knew he was my man. He tells it like it is; he hides no emotions. I'm a Knighthawks fan as well. Section 106 all the way."
Stewart is good friends with Knighthawks Owner and General Manager Curt Styres and his brother Glenn, who own the Ohsweken Speedway in Ontario. Glenn Styres is also a four-time Southern Ontario Sprints Champion.
On July 31, 2012, Stewart won the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series A-Feature race hosted by Styres in Ohsweken. Stewart and Styres will race against each other at the University of Northwest Ohio DIRTcar Nationals in February at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida.
"I ran into a lady who was smiling ear-to-ear, and I thought she was smiling at me," Styres said. "She had just gotten Tony's autograph and she was on cloud nine."
Styres was glad he could help the Knighthawks bring his friend to Rochester to meet racing enthusiasts and introduce him to the 2012 National Lacrosse League Champions.
"This is the best opportunity for fans to be able to come and meet Tony one-on-one because he really takes time to meet with people. He takes the time to meet with people and answer all of their questions. That's really hard to get once the racing season starts," said Styres.