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Ivan Stewart is The Ironman

Jul 16, 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's first big break was at the 1973 Ensenada 300. His co-driver broke his leg before the race, so Stewart found mechanic Earl Stah to drive shotgun, and powered through 300 miles of rough terrain in the Class 2 buggy to win the race.

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 kept his winning tradition behind the wheel of Toyota-powered, Precision Preparation Inc. Motorsports-built race trucks, where he won six class victories, including two SCORE World Championships. By the 1980s, the Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group (MTEG) had moved its events from the desert into the stadium, meaning new venues for Stewart/Toyota triumphs, and making off-road racing more popular and accessible than ever. With 17 wins, Stewart is the record holder for all-time MTEG wins.

Stewart's seventh year with Toyota was a lucky one. 1990 was the year Stewart won award after award, including: 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. In addition, he earned a total 11 wins along the way. In 1993, he repeated his SCORE Overall and Unlimited Class championships, and led Toyota to its first Baja 1000 victory. That season marked the first year that one manufacturer won all three of the Crown Jewels of desert racing - the Baja 500, Baja 1000, and Nevada 400 - and Stewart was a driving force in that winning team.

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.

Since his retirement from racing, Stewart has continued to keep a high profile in the race with two initiatives. He is the founder of the Protruck Racing Organization, a special class of spec trucks that participates at such off-road events as the "Best in the Desert" Vegas to Reno run, the Baja 500, and the Pikes Peak hill climb. This is a true driver's challenge, since all the Protrucks incorporate the same components, and engines are limited to 360 cubic inches in size. Stewart has also maintained involvement in the racing world by releasing a Super Off-Road arcade game with Midway Home Entertainment. The game is developed for Nintendo and Sega, and is based on the SCORE desert series. Hail Ivan Stewart, the Ironman of off-road racing!
About the Author
The author Jason Lancaster is the editor of TundraHeadquarters.com, a web site with info, news, and reviews of Toyota Tundra accessories and Tundra parts.
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