Stump and Cindy Lewis are NASCAR’s husband and wife haulers
By Mike Savicki
Have you ever wanted to just point your vehicle west and head off into the sunset with the one you love? Explore the open roads and see our nation’s natural beauty? Maybe you simply want to break from the daily grind and discover the peace and tranquility that exists far away from urban gridlock.
Stump and Cindy Lewis do it for a living. And they do it together. For the last 14 years, the Mooresville couple has crisscrossed America at least four times a year hauling NASCAR Sprint Cup cars from Charlotte to tracks as far away as California and New Hampshire. If you spot the No. 56 Napa Auto Parts Toyota Camry hauler rolling anywhere in the country, you can be assured either Stump or Cindy is behind the wheel.
“We prefer driving at night and plan our travel so we can avoid traffic in the cities we pass through,” begins Stump Lewis. “We’ve been doing it for so long and we’ve been across the country so much that we know exactly where we are going, how long it takes and where we want to stop. We do the forty or forty-two hour drive to California, just stopping for gas, but if we want to get out and stretch somewhere, we can tell you every roadside café that’s worth a visit.”
You might think it’s easy when the cab of your Freightliner rig is custom cooled and comes equipped with Internet access, a bed and a refrigerator, but the Lewis’ say their rolling hotel room also serves as a mobile office and weather station.
“Early in the season, about five or six years ago, an ice storm outside Dallas shut us down on the interstate for eleven hours,” says Cindy. “Nobody moved at all. There are some things we have learned to avoid, but you really can’t avoid storms like that.”
The Lewis’ say their relationship has become closer since they spend so much time together.
“A lot of people ask us how we can stand being together for so long, but to be honest, we just do it,” explains Stump. “I guess it is just natural for us. Since we take turns driving, a lot of the time one of us is either sleeping or working on something else in the back, so we both keep ourselves pretty busy. We could go six or eight hours and never say a word to each other, or some trips we could talk the whole time. We just never know.”
“We just had our twenty-forth wedding anniversary, so I guess you could say things are pretty solid for us,” jokes Cindy. “Our kids laugh at us because we really believe that every day we spend together is an anniversary.”
Once the season begins, the Lewis’ spend the majority of every week on the road. They typically leave Michael Waltrip Racing’s Cornelius headquarters on Wednesday and park at the track on Thursday. When the weekend is over, depending on their next destination, they will either head back to the shop to unload and reload, or travel directly to the next race. In a typical week, they might get one day at home to stretch and unwind. During the month of February into March, with races scheduled in Daytona, Phoenix and Las Vegas, they will be on the road constantly.
Ask Stump what part of the country he loves the most and he will tell you it’s the beauty of the southwest along old Route 66.
Ask Cindy where she likes driving the least and she will tell you it is anywhere in California with strict regulations and speed limits.
Ask them why they do it and their answer will cause you to sigh.
“People always ask us how we can be on the road so much and be away from our home,” concludes Stump. “We have a simple answer. If you love what you’re doing and love the person you are with day in and day out, then it’s not really a job at all. It’s a life together.”
This article was originally published in Currents Magazine.