Ricky Stenhouse Jr., NASCAR Sprint Cup driver of the No. 17 Zest Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing, pays tribute to his mother in this Mother’s Day column.
She doesn’t just watch every single race or every qualifying lap, when the world’s eyes are on the race track. She watches all my practices, when there is no one else there. She can be sitting in the bleachers, on pit road, or even on tape while she’s at the gym.
You could say she’s seen more of my career than I have. Yes, my mom really is my biggest fan. Literally. She has shown me unconditional love, well before I was a professional race car driver. And she’s never needed to tell me she is my biggest fan. It’s always been obvious.
Growing up in Olive Branch, Miss., outside of the NASCAR heartland that drives from Daytona Beach to Charlotte, N.C. it was sometimes difficult to find the support I needed to pursue a career in motorsports. I was — in a way — disconnected from what I saw as my dream of being a professional NASCAR driver, and needed to rely on those closest to me to help me realize that dream.
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But I had my family, and I had my biggest fan — long before I had any others.
While other kids I grew up with could stay after school and play basketball in the gym, football on the field, or instruments in the classroom, I had to rely on the time and resources of my family to connect me with my passion. And while I spent countless hours with my dad in our family garage, talking and learning about cars, it was my mom who kept me focused and motivated, showing me the life lessons I needed to pursue my dreams. Being like any competitive young man growing up, I no doubt made mistakes pursuing my dreams. But my mom was always the first person to show me the right path forward.
Yes, I am also my mom’s biggest fan. I try my best to not just tell her how much she means to me, but also show her.
In a sport such as NASCAR, many of my fellow drivers have similar stories of how they had to rely on their families to help them go that extra mile and pursue their dreams in motorsports. In many instances, just like mine, moms have been the motivational and infinitely supportive force driving us toward our goals. NASCAR is built by family and the superstars of tomorrow are — no doubt — being pushed ahead by their families, and moms specifically.
This year, I’m even more proud to be part of NASCAR as we — for the first time ever — have created a platform to specifically recognize all of the moms involved with our sport — NASCAR with Mom. With our partners 3M, Ford and Goodyear, we are sharing and celebrating all of the memorable moments everyone in the NASCAR Nation has had with their moms through the sport. Since April, everyone in the NASCAR family — from fans to drivers — have been invited to share images of their special NASCAR moments with mom online, using the hashtag #NASCARwithMom.
Ultimately, we want to not only tell moms how much we appreciate everything they do, but show them. We’ve collected images of our moments with mom from across the world for over a month, creating a virtual showcase of NASCAR moms. The moments in these pictures show the bond between mothers and their children, and say so much more than the typical, “Happy Mother’s Day.”
So take time out this Mother’s Day to not only tell your mom, who is no doubt your biggest fan, but show her how much she means to you. You can’t say enough for the love and support that a mother inherently provides, so I want to challenge sons and daughters everywhere to show mom what that love and support means.