Former Verizon IndyCar Series and three-time NASCAR Cup champion Tony Stewart is returning to the Indianapolis 500 – as a car sponsor.
Stewart’s charitable wing, the Tony Stewart Foundation, announced today that it has formed Team One Cure to create awareness, enthusiasm and understanding for the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University that develops cutting-edge cancer treatments for humans and pets.
To raise more awareness of the program, Team One Cure will sponsor the entry for the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. The driver of the car will be announced at a future date.
Stewart, who retired from NASCAR competition following the 2016 season, has long been an advocate for children and animals, especially those facing serious illness. The opportunity to pair up Team One Cure with the Indy 500 was one he couldn’t pass up.
“We learned that, with the One Cure program, cancer treatment breakthroughs are happening through collaboration between scientists and doctors working with both people and pets,” said Stewart, who captured the 1997 Verizon IndyCar Series crown before turning his attention to stock cars. “It perfectly fits with my foundation’s missions to help children and animals. Sam Schmidt represents the very best in an injured racer overcoming adversity, plus we share the passion to win at IMS.”
Schmidt, a quadriplegic as a result of an Indy car testing crash in 2000, has not been deterred and become one of the leading INDYCAR team owners. He also founded Conquer Paralysis Now, the foundation devoted to finding a paralysis cure through increased scientific research.
“Very pleased to be participating in the 101st Running of the Indy 500 with such a fantastic program as Team One Cure,” Schmidt said. “Tony is the most generous guy I know in motorsports and his charitable efforts on behalf of children and animals in need is unbelievable, so this is a perfect fit. With the team at Colorado State University making such huge strides in cancer research, this will truly be a cause we can get behind. That, combined with both of our extreme desires to win this race, should make for a really competitive entry.”
Dr. Rodney Page, director of the Flint Animal Cancer Center, said the Indy 500 sponsorship will raise great awareness in animal cancer treatments that can benefit people.
“We need a new way to race for potential cures to cancer, and pets may provide the answer,” Page said. “Partnering with the Tony Stewart Foundation for Team One Cure provides a strong start to helping many people understand that cancer occurs in pets in a similar rate to humans and that it occurs naturally. Cancer is cancer, so what is learned in pets being treated for cancer holds promise to also benefit people and vice-versa.
“This approach is known as comparative or translational oncology, and it is the core of the One Cure concept. We hope through this new partnership to help educate more people about comparative oncology and improve the lives of all cancer patients, whether they have two or four legs.”
Practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 begins May 15 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with two days of qualifications set for May 20-21. The race is on May 28 and airs live (11 a.m. ET) on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. For ticket information, visit IMS.com.
Watch below as Stewart explains his passion for the Team One Cure project and the Indianapolis 500: