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Meet Ironman Ivan Stewart

Jul 15, 2008
Off-road race fanatics don't think of comic creator Stan Lee or actor Robert Downey, Jr when they hear the word "Ironman." The real Ironman in the racing world is Ivan Stewart, who has earned the title for himself.

Stewart caught off-road racing's attention in 1973 at the Ensenada 300 when his co-driver broke his leg before the race. Stewart recruited mechanic Earl Stah to drive shotgun in the Class 2 buggy, and powered through all 300 miles of the gruelling terrain to claim first place.

Nearly 30 wins and 10 years later, Stewart joined forces with the Toyota factory-sponsored team. In those 10 years, he moved up from Class 2, won the Baja 1000, the Baja 500 twice and was named SCORE Driver of the Year twice.

Stewart's winning streak continued with Toyota-powered, Precision Preparation Inc. Motorsports-built race trucks. He won six class victories, including two SCORE World Championships! Off-road racing become more accessible and popular during the '80s, when the Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group (MTEG) moved off-road from the desert into the stadium, which meant new venues for Stewart/Toyota victories. Stewart is the all-time MTEG win record with 17 victories under his belt.

The seventh year into his partnership with Toyota - 1990 - was a lucky one. Stewart was named SCORE and High Desert Racing Association (HDRA) Driver of the Year, Overall Driver's Champion, Unlimited Class Driver's Champion and Grand National Sport Truck Driver's Champion. Plus, he garnered a total of 11 wins along the way. Just three years later, he duplicated his SCORE Overall and Unlimited Class championships, and steered Toyota to its first Baja 1000 win. During that 1993 season, Stewart and Team Toyota took home the Crown Jewels of desert racing-the Baja 500, Baja 1000 and Nevada 400-marking the first time one manufacturer claimed victory in all three.

Stewart won the San Felipe 250, Baja 500 and Fireworks 250 in 1994, when he moved up to the Trophy Truck Class. He was named Trophy-Truck Class Driver's Champion, and added victories in the Laughlin Challenge and Parker 400 to his repertoire. In the last three years of his career, Stewart won three more Baja 500 races for a total of 17 in his career, and one more Baja 1000 for a career total of three. After over a quarter-century of racing, the Ironman had won over 84 titles and 10 driver's championships.

Stewart is now retired from racing, but he has maintained a high profile in the sport on two levels. First is as founder of the Protruck Racing Organization, a special class of spec trucks that participates at off-road events including the "Best in the Desert" Vegas to Reno run, the Baja 500, and the Pikes Peak hill climb. The series is a true driver's challenge with all the Protrucks incorporating the same components, and engine size limited to 360 cubic inches. Next, Stewart moved from real dirt to virtual dirt with his Super Off-Road arcade game developed for Nintendo and Sega and the Off-Road Challenge, released by Midway Home Entertainment and based on the SCORE desert series. All hail the Ironman - the greatest Toyota Tundra driver ever!
About the Author
Author Jason Lancaster is the editor of TundraHeadquarters.com, a website with info, news, and reviews of Toyota Tundra parts and Tundra accessories.
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