A legend in off-road racing, Ivan “Ironman” Stewart has successfully tackled the toughest challenges in the sport. With a 30-year relationship with Toyota, this pairing resulted in unparalleled success in stadium and desert racing.
Stewart’s racing career began in 1973 at the Ensenada 300. He was scheduled to race in a Class 2 buggy with co-driver Bill Hrynko, but as fate would have it, Hrynko suffered a broken leg prior to the event. Stewart took the wheel and drove the entire race to a victory. He continued racing and winning for ten years until he joined Toyota’s factory-sponsored effort with the Precision Preparation Inc. (PPI) race team in 1983.
Stewart and several other talented Toyota teammates played an important role in Toyota’s dominance during the 12-year history of the Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group (MTEG) stadium series. Along with Stewart’s three driver’s championships, Toyota earned 11 manufacturer’s championships and 42 main event victories – nearly three times more than any other truck team. Stewart holds the record for all-time MTEG wins with 17.
In 1984, Toyota and PPI expanded their racing efforts to compete in the desert. Within the first two years, Stewart drove to six class victories, including two SCORE World Championships. Stewart then became the only single entry driver when Toyota and PPI moved to Class 1 in 1985.
“The success we experienced as a team was due to the dedication of PPI and Toyota,” Stewart said. “It was their hard work that made it possible to build the team’s credibility and allow us to win.”
Stewart claimed Toyota’s first Baja 1000 victory in 1993. It was that victory that clinched his second SCORE Overall and Unlimited Class series championships, matching his 1990 record as the only driver in the series’ history to earn both titles in the same year.
The 1993 season was also significant, as Team Toyota became the only manufacturer in history to sweep the “Crown Jewels” of desert racing – Nevada 400, Baja 500 and Baja 1000 – in the same season.
The 1998 season proved successful as Stewart won both the Baja 500 and Baja 1000.
In his career, Stewart has accumulated 84 career victories and 10 driver’s championships. The wins include 17 Baja 500s, eight Mint 400s, four Parker 400s, three Baja 1000s and four SCORE World Championships.
Stewart’s driving talent is impeccable, but he will be the first to mention that it is the support of his friends and family that helps get him to the winner’s circle.
“For anyone to be successful in anything, they need the support of their family and friends,” Stewart said. “I was fortunate that my family believed in me from the beginning, and continues to support my goals and dreams.”
Stewart plays an active role in the community, and is focused on promoting goal setting.
“I explain to the children that to realize your dreams you must have one to begin with, ”Stewart comments. “For kids to keep from getting in trouble on the streets, they must find something they really want to do and work hard at it. Succeeding in school is very important to make their dreams become reality.”
Stewart’s popularity with younger racing fans has created a market for his “Super Off- Road” video games. Starting out as an arcade game, “Super Off-Road” has been developed for Nintendo and Sega. In 1997, Midway Home Entertainment, Inc. released “Off-Road Challenge,” a sequel to the arcade game based on Stewart’s participation in the SCORE Desert Series, which set sales records.
Stewart enjoys all types of racing. He competed as a professional in the 1997 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in Long Beach, Calif. and also in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
“Challenge of Champions” race along with Roger Mears and Parnelli Jones. Ultimately, Stewart’s heart is in the dirt and sand of the desert. “I’ve always had a love for desert racing.”
Stewart now is a television commentator for SCORE International Off-Road Racing and enjoys spending time meeting his fans around the country. He is married to his wife of 50 years, Linda Stewart. They have three adult children, Brian, Gary and Craig and five grandchildren.
- Birthdate: June 4
- Hometown: San Diego, CA
- Baja 500 Victories: 17
- Baja 1000 Victories: 3
- Off-Road Victories: 84
- Driver’s Championships: 10
- Nickname: Ivan “Ironman” Stewart