NASCAR Driver Tony Stewart Gets Sued. Again.
This time, it's because he's the owner of the Eldora dirt track.
NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and team owner Tony Stewart appears to be headed back to court as part of a lawsuit filed against his Eldora Speedway, the dirt track in Ohio, and this one has nothing to do with the death of Kevin Ward, the New York sprint car driver who was killed when he charged Stewart’s still-moving sprint car during a race.
This time, certifiably legendary dirt late model driver Scott Bloomquist, along with Jimmy Owens, Gregg Satterlee, Brandon Sheppard, and Ricky Thornton Jr., have sued Eldora, Stewart and sanctioning body UMP for damages that total $16.5 million.
In dirt track racing, the softer the tires, the faster, and teams have been known to treat tires with chemicals that are readily available to make them softer. The makers of the chemicals label them as either difficult or impossible to detect, because using aftermarket additives on your tires is against the rules of most all sanctioning bodies, including UMP. The sanctioning body is controlled by World Racing Group, owner the World of Outlaws sprint car and late model series, and WRG was named in the suit as well.
Here's why: After The Dream last June, one of Eldora’s huge late model races, tire samples from the five aforementioned racers were sent to an independent lab, which found that they had been chemically tampered with.
The five drivers were relieved of the money they won, about $50,000 total among the five, and suspended from all WRG races. They appealed to the three-member hearings board, and lost. Then they appealed to the World Racing Group Commission Chairman Potestas, longtime NASCAR executive John Darby, who upheld penalties issued by DIRTcar following Eldora Speedway’s Dirt Late Model Dream, but reduced the suspension period from months to 12 weeks, which ends September 13.
The lawsuit by Bloomquist and the others say the independent lab used to test the tires was incompetent. Furthermore, Bloomquist contends that he won the Dream in 2015, but he was found 21 pounds light at the scales after the race, and lost the win and $98,000 in prize money. He contends the scales were faulty. Stewart’s track manager at Eldora, Roger Slack, says the suit is “without merit.”
Bloomquist says his “reputation, as a sports celebrity, has been damaged, which impacts his ability to market himself to fans and potential sponsors.”
Bloomquist has, at times, been his own worst enemy when it comes to his reputation. In 1993 he was arrested for possession of cocaine, and sentenced to one year in jail, which was cut in half on appeal. In 2003, in Iowa, he was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and possession of cocaine.
In 2008, UMP sat Bloomquist down for a month for a tire violation that UPM said occurred at Golden Isles Speedway in Georgia. In late 2009, the World of Outlaws suspended him for a tire violation at the Dirt Track at (the then) Lowe’s Motor Speedway. In 2013, a police department in Tennessee investigated Bloomquist after Matthew Simmonds, who identified himself as a Bloomquist employee, claimed Bloomquist threatened him, saying, “I’m either going to drown you or shoot you.”