Eddie Vedder made a surprise appearance at the NASCAR Sprint Series Awards Banquet in Las Vegas Friday to pay tribute to Tony Stewart, the race car driver who recently announced his retirement.
“I’m Tony’s surprise,” the Pearl Jam singer joked (via NASCAR). “When I first met Tony, I was humbled to hear him say how much our music meant to him and it got him through some rough, tough and difficult times, and I can relate. You know that music can inspire and friends can do all they can, but it’s really up to the individual to lift the burdens and persevere and live again. And then live to race again, and race to win again.”
Vedder then talked about he and his wife Jill’s non-profit organization EB Research Partnership, which aims to cure Epidermolysis Bullosa, a devastating skin disorder that affects children.
“Tony heard of our involvement and the effective ways that we’ve been making a difference and he wrote us a check for thousands of dollars, and I was very moved by this generous offering,” Vedder said. “It was like thousands of dollars, like fine money,” referring to the often-penalized Stewart’s relationship with NASCAR.
“To be inspired by a guy keep us from having his goodness in our lives, I am very proud to recognize my friend Tony Stewart,” Vedder said in conclusion.
After Stewart came up on stage, Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendricks took the podium to reveal that the NASCAR community had made a donation of $1.8 million on behalf of Stewart to EB Research Partnership.
“Are we on TV? That’s un-fucking-believable,” an emotional Vedder said of the NASCAR donation before realizing his language wasn’t up to FCC or NASCAR standards. “I’ll pay for that fine.”