When it was clear that Tony Stewart was the winner of the first annual Hottest Driver Tournament I was happy. Not because I’m a fan of his, or that I have some “thing” for him, which I don’t. Nope, it was purely for the fact that I knew I would definitely be able to present him with the award. If Dale Earnhardt Jr. had won this thing I doubt I would have had the opportunity to give him the award, let alone do it in person.
So it worked out perfectly that Office Depot was hosting an autograph session with Tony at one of their stores in Las Vegas last week and they had a media availability built in just before the signing was to begin.
The award or “trophy” consisted of 5 bottles of various hot sauces that I bought at Cost Plus World Market. I removed their labels (with the must-have help of Goo Gone that you can purchase–it just so happens–at your local Office Depot. It’s the greatest stuff.) and replaced them with ones that I made that featured the Hottest Driver Tourney logo, Tony’s name and the URL for The Fast and the Fabulous. My original idea for the trophy was to use a really big candle and put some sort of nameplate on it, but that seemed lame. I started thinking about things that are “hot” and hot sauce seemed to make the most sense. Plus, if you’re in a pinch, it’s totally usable.
When I arrived I was nervous. But I don’t think I realized how nervous I was until I was in front of Tony. He was a little late, apparently the driver of the town car didn’t know how to get to the store which is weird considering it’s his job to drive people around Las Vegas, but once Tony arrived a local news channel interviewed him and then it was my turn.
We stood in front of the Office Depot backdrop and I held on to the basket of hot sauce while I explained the tournament to him. I brought the completed brackets, laminated to make it easier to hold & read, and showed it to him while I rambled on about how “thousands of votes were cast, and you won, and you beat Dale Jr, and your teammate Ryan Newman, blah, blah, blah.” Tony smiled and nodded throughout and the ONE thing I forgot to do was to ASK HIM A FRIGGIN’ QUESTION! The funny thing is that I had gone over it in my head that I would say something like “What is it like to know that thousands of women think you’re the hottest driver in NASCAR?” but I choked and I didn’t say anything.
I was too busy thinking about the photo we were going to take and making sure I faced the basket out so that the bottles showed. He did say that he would tell Ryan Newman that he beat him, which was cool.
Anyway, we took the photos and then there was an awkward half-hug and then we started to walk away like it was over. It was then that I told him what the names of a couple of the hot sauces were. One was “Slap Ya Mama” and another “Ass Kickin’” It seemed like he thought that was cool.
So that’s the story of how I presented the first ever Hottest Driver Tournament award to it’s first ever winner. I can’t wait for the 2012 contest.
This is me presenting the 2011 Hottest Driver Award to Tony Stewart. Smiling Tony Stewart is my favorite Tony Stewart. It means I haven’t annoyed him or he’s just really good at meeting people who present him with things.
(all photos credit Action Sports Photography)