Tony Stewart Visits Local GM Plant

By Maureen Mespell
By John W. Davis

November 3, 2010 Updated Nov 4, 2010 at 12:32 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter)-- This wasn't your ordinary lap for NASCAR Superstar Tony Stewart.

"It's fun 'cause you watch these guys and you watch and it almost looks like they just make it look effortless," said NASCAR Driver Tony Stewart.

The Columbus, Indiana native signed autographs and doled out smiles with routine precision.

Then he put on his work gloves and hopped on the line.

"But then they put you on a machine and teach you how to run it and you realize that you've now just almost but shutdown the assembly line because they're so efficient. So good at what they do," said Stewart.

Stewart who flew up from North Carolina Thursday afternoon, is famous from his Home Depot sponsorship days.

Now he drives the Number 14 Office Depot/ Old Spice Chevy.

Thursday's tour was hosted by the plant's Women In Manufacturing group.

They wanted Stewart to see first-hand how to build award-winning Silverado trucks.

"This is what I like to do. I like coming to plants.) I like seeing how the trucks and cars are made from A to Z and see the whole process so this is kinda my niche," said Stewart.

Stewart steered his way through different stations.

He installed instrumental panels, rear seats, radiators and even a half ton V-8 engine.

He said the workers' passion is contagious.

"I'm very passionate about what we do on the weekends. You know you realize that every week we're on the race track, they don't necessarily care if it's us but if one the Chevy cars are leading the race, this plant gets excited about that and that's what it's all about," said Stewart.

"Smoke" as he's affectionately nicknamed, said he was looking forward to this trip to Fort Wayne for weeks.

It's a visit he and hundreds of plant workers won't soon forget.

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