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NASCAR’s Carolina Hot Spots: Stewart-Haas Racing

January 16, 2010

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NASCAR fans living in, or touring, the Charlotte area never have a problem finding numerous race shops a short drive from each other. Less than five minutes off Interstate 85 in Kannapolis, not far from Dale Earnhardt, Inc.,  is the Stewart-Haas race shop. Formerly known as Haas CNC Racing, the company now jointly owned by Gene Haas and Tony Stewart is home to both Stewart’s #14 Office Depot  and Ryan Newman’s #39 Army cars. It’s not hard to find, being the standout building in the Kannapolis Gateway Business Park area.

With a classic Chevrolet exterior, Stewart-Haas is one of the flashier race shops in town. If the outside doesn’t convince you, the six Impalas as soon as you walk in will. Three cars apiece, both Tony Stewart’s and Ryan Newman’s paint schemes and sponsors are on full display. The real fun for the NASCAR gearhead is sticking your head in one of those vehicles. I had my head in a couple, all the while daydreaming, “yep…I can drive this too.” I’m sure unhooking a steering wheel and raising it over my head in victory wasn’t much of an option, nor would it have been appreciated much.

What sets this apart from other shops is it’s view of the day to day operations on the other side of the glass. If it’s hard getting any sort of a view as to what’s going on inside Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson’s shops, the exact opposite can be said for here. There’s not much left to the imagination. Nearly the entire back wall just beyond the row of Chevy’s is made of glass, offering an unobstructed view of their mechanics. To the left is a smaller set of windows allowing a peek at other parts of their operation. There’s lot of glass here, more than enough room for a lot folks to line up and watch these cars being built on a daily basis. Stewart-Haas seem to strive for a level of honesty befitting it’s namesake; it’s second only to Earnhardt-Ganassi in terms of allowing that kind of access.

Tony Stewart may be a classic hot head, but as it goes you always know where you stand with him. His shop is no different, allowing fans a great look into his operation. Stewart-Haas may not have the amount of trophies that Hendrick does, nor the history of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. What it does have is a bit more flair than one would expect, as well as a great view of the mechanics at work. If you’re on a NASCAR trail, it’s a stop worth taking.

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