In my early days of newspaper journalism, I wrote about a lot of celebrities who came to town. Mostly, they were musical artists at Deer Creek Music Center in Noblesville. And also some TV stars.
One of the second-largest breeds of celebrities that I met were race car drivers.
The most memorable drivers who I met and interviewed were the Brickyard 400’s 1994 inaugural winner Jeff Gordon when he returned to Indy, to Block Party, promoting his second Brickyard in 1995; and two-time Indy 500 (1990 and 1997) winner Arie Luyendyk, when he returned to Indy in 1991 for a luncheon at the former Peter’s restaurant in Fountain Square. I have lots of photos in my archives of drivers and celebrities -- such as NASCAR legend Richard Petty and the late racing team owner and actor Paul Newman -- from Pole Day for the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
More locally known, I met and have interviewed multiple times Formula One driver, broadcaster and racing analyst Derek Daly, then of Noblesville (now Carmel). I also met and interviewed IndyCar rookie and Noblesville resident Bryan Clauson and retired race car driver Sarah Fisher when they greeted fans outdoors at the Noblesville Moose Lodge in 2012, when the late Clauson was driving for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team. I also met and interviewed Noblesville’s Billy Wease, who was a development driver for Penske Racing in the 2000s and the 2006 Turkey Night Grand Prix winner of the midget-car race.
In 2016, we met and snagged an autograph from Ed Carpenter, who arrived with Santa the day after Thanksgiving at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. We also met Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner at Curt Cavin’s Carb Night Burger Bash. (Cavin, a fellow Franklin College graduate, is a former IndyStar sports writer for motor sports who is now a senior manager of digital content with IndyCar.) The list goes on.
But then there’s Tony Stewart, one racing legend who I have never met or interviewed. And I know he has a lot of fans around here.
This coming weekend, the retired IndyCar and NASCAR driver and current team owner, and his girlfriend, NHRA Top Fuel drag racer Leah Pruett, will be in Noblesville, to unveil Tony’s newly designed Supra wake surf boat.
Those who have been following Stewart and his girlfriend on social media and YouTube over the past year since the pandemic might know that the couple has been working with Pro Wake Watersports (owner Mark Richards, who has a store in Noblesville) to each design his and her own Supra wake surf boat, which is designed to create a large, specially shaped wake for a wakeboarder or surfer to jump the wakes from side to side behind the boat.
Since Stewart retired from race-car driving, he’s picked up the surfing hobby alongside his girlfriend, who is pretty good at the water sport, if you’ve seen their YouTube videos.
Stewart fans are invited to visit Pro Wake Watersports, 9175 E. 146th St., in Noblesville, where Stewart and Pruett will greet fans from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and unveil the boat at about 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. (The store is near the southwest corner of Indiana 37 and 146th Street, off of Britton Park Road.
If you plan to attend and haven’t seen Stewart and Pruett’s filming of their “journey” to create their boats, you might pull up a chair and watch the short videos, which are interesting and a lot of fun to watch, before Sunday. In the videos, viewers also get a peek at Stewart’s 414-acre Hidden Hollow Ranch at his hometown of Columbus, Ind., where he has a 15,756-square-foot custom log cabin with six bedrooms and 12 bathrooms, a huge racing car collection as well as helmet collection and more. The candid videos offer a snapshot of the racer’s personal life and more for fans. Stewart is the only driver in history to win a championship in both IndyCar and NASCAR. Visit https://www.tonystewart.com/
This meet-and-greet takes place during Pro Wake’s sports spring boat show, Friday through Feb. 28. For store hours or more about the racers’ designed boats or to watch the videos, visit https://www.prowakewatersports.com/

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.