Ever since the end of IROC in 2006, there hasn’t really been a true spec series where cars are identically prepared and top race car drivers from around the world strap themselves in to determine who really is the best. After 15 years, a similar version of that series is going to premiere next summer and IROC’s last champion is one of the people in charge.
NASCAR Hall of Famers Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham are among a group that includes former NASCAR COO George Pyne and The Montag Group to partner in a new racing series called the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX). CBS is set to broadcast the six-race series on Saturday night in summer 2021 on CBS and CBS All Access.
While the SRX series isn’t meant to be a competitor to NASCAR, they are making a big splash with some of their ideas for the new series that will differ from NASCAR. One noticeable aspect is going to be the length of the races. While some of the longer NASCAR races can take upwards of four or five hours, the SRX is going to be developed to take place within a two hour primetime window. Races will take around 90 minutes and while there will be no pit stops, there will be a halftime period where cars can be adjusted for the second half.
The cars themselves will be identically built by legendary crew chief Ray Evernham. Evernham got his start in racing helping build cars for the original IROC series, which was a four-race series that invited top drivers from racing series all over the world to race against each other. Evernham will be in charge with making a car that isn’t aero dependent and rewards driver ability than technological advancements.
SRX’s plan is to have 12 drivers and 12 crew chiefs for the six-race inaugural season. The driver/crew chief partnership will be a random pairing and it’ll consist of a mix of older established drivers who may not be racing full time anymore and younger talent who race on local short tracks and are looking for their big break.
Stewart, who runs the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint car series, is set to race as well as offer up his Eldora Speedway dirt track for the SRX. Evernham revealed his wish list of top drivers to the AP, which includes NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya, and IndyCar’s Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, and Paul Tracy. Tracks on Evernham’s wish list include dirt tracks like Eldora, Knoxville, and Terre Haute, along with asphalt tracks like Stafford, Five Flags, and New Smyrna.
According to the Sports Business Journal, CBS is not only involved as a media partner, but also as partners in sponsorship, revenue, and the live gate, per CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus. For an upstart sport, it helps to have an enthusiastic TV partner and it seems they got one in CBS. Not only does it appear CBS wants the SRX to succeed, the SRX will help CBS fill six Saturday night’s worth of sports content at a time of the sports schedule where content is light. If it’s anything like Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks series, we’ll be in for a treat.