August 12, 2022

  • The Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) is a series of six short-track races that will begin Season 2 on June 18.
  • All races in the all-star series will be broadcast live on CBS TV.
  • Three-time NASCAR Cup champion and current NASCAR and NHRA team owner Tony Stewart is the defending series champion.

    After a successful inaugural season in 2021, the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) begins its second campaign this Saturday in Pensacola, Florida.

    Some changes

    The six-race, six-week short-track made-for-TV series featuring recently retired drivers (and a handful of current drivers) from various racing disciplines airs on CBS – all races are held Saturday nights from 8 p.m. p.m. to 10 p.m. ET – will have several changes for its second year.

    Ray Evernham is no longer part of the day to day operation of Superstar Racing Experience.

    Mike ComerGetty Images

    • First, longtime Charlotte Motor Speedway manager Don Hawk took control of the series as CEO.

    • Second, SRX co-founder and NASCAR Hall of Famer Ray Evernham has stepped down from the day-to-day operations of SRX. Evernham remains a serial investor/owner.

    Hawk was initially interested in the consultant role, but that quickly evolved to being offered the CEO job just before Christmas last December.

    “Ray Evernham retired to be a pure owner and didn’t want to be an active day-to-day ops guy anymore,” Hawk said. Automatic week. “That’s what they needed to replace.”

    • Thirdly, of the six racecourses on the program for the 2022 season, four are new compared to last season.

    Kicking off this Saturday, the series makes its first appearance at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. Going forward, week two of the program will visit the South Boston (Va.) Speedway (June 25).

    stafford motor speedway superstar racing experience inaugural event

    SRX returns to Stafford Motor Speedway in 2022.

    Elsa/SRXGetty Images

    The two remaining tracks from last season are Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford, Connecticut (July 2) and Nashville Fairgrounds in Tennessee (July 9).

    Rounding out the schedule are the only two dirt tracks on the schedule: Ken Schrader-owned I-55 Speedway in Pevely, Missouri (July 16) and the season-ending and likely championship-clinching event July 23 at the Dave Blaney- owned Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio.

    “The biggest changes are just the ability to add to what you already have and try to match or do better, that’s always the goal,” Hawk said. “We had an outstanding Year 1, so the focus is now on Year 1. We won’t settle for mediocrity, we’re aiming for the moon.”

    The drivers

    SRX co-founder and NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart returns as the series champion and will race in all six races this year.

    nashville fairgrounds speedway superstar racing experience

    Bill Elliott will be back for the second year of Superstar Racing Experience.

    Dylan Buell/SRXGetty Images

    Here is a list of other pilots who will compete full-time or part-time:

    Full time: Stewart, former NASCAR drivers Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Bobby Labonte and Michael Waltrip; IndyCar drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti and former IndyCar driver and NBC announcer Paul Tracy.

    Part time: Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves in 2021 will compete in three events (South Boston, Stafford, Nashville), NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott (Five Flags, Stafford) and Tony Kanaan (all races except Stafford).

    Also in competition: NASCAR driver Chase Elliott, along with Ryan and Dave Blaney, will all compete in the season finale at Blaney-owned Sharon Speedway.

    Schrader will race at her track, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitor Hailie Deegan will also race in two races (Stafford and I-55). Matt Kenseth, inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2023, will compete in three events (Nashville, I-55 and Sharon Speedway).

    Others include Indy Lights driver Ernie Francis Jr. (Five Flags and South Boston), while IndyCar driver and winner of Sunday’s race at Road America Josef Newgarden will compete in the SRX event in Nashville.

    Plus, a hugely popular element from last season returns this year, with a local star from every track on the calendar scheduled to mix it up with the big names in the field.

    Tickets are going fast

    Although the racing action and rules are the same as last season, one difference is that Friday practices have been eliminated. All events will be one-day shows, with practices, qualifying, qualifying races and the main event on the same day.

    nascar camping world truck series doordash 250 practical

    NASCAR Camping World Truck Series racer Hailie Deegan plans to make an appearance at two SRX races this season.

    Sean GardnerGetty Images

    Hawk is optimistic the series is building on its momentum from last season and expects all six events to be sold out. Stafford is already sold out, Five Flags is about to sell out for this weekend’s season opener, and others are also about to sell out.

    “I would say fan reaction is one of our main economic indications that we’re doing well,” Hawk said. “With social media, our stats are much higher than last year, and our racetrack ticket sales are much higher than last year.

    “Stafford is already exhausted. I think they will all be sold. I’d actually be unpleasantly surprised if one of those six didn’t sell. This isn’t just a promoter talk, I really enjoy conversations with track owners and riders. I feel good about it. It is very conceivable to have six sold-out counters.

    Another minor adjustment to the schedule is that the first four races will be on pavement, the last two on dirt. Last year, dirt races were split between the curb races on the schedule.

    Will there be a season 3?

    As Season 2 is about to begin, there are already talks of potentially expanding the series into next year.

    nashville fairgrounds speedway superstar racing experience

    Former IndyCar driver Marco Andretti will compete in the SRX Championship this year.

    Dylan Buell/SRXGetty Images

    “There are discussions on the table to extend the existing season or have something at another time of the year,” Hawk said. “There are many proposals, but my main goal is to deal with the task at hand starting this weekend in Pensacola, Florida.”

    Plans also include bringing new tracks online each year to further expand the series’ reach, particularly in the west.

    “I think you keep a few (of this year’s tracks) the same and then the logical progression would be to add some new ones because there are so many great short tracks across America so why not move them “Hawk said.

    But that’s putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. There’s still Season 2 to run, and Hawk can’t wait for that first green flag to drop this Saturday night.

    “The main goal is to have great ratings, we have a great television partner with CBS, we want to deliver a product that makes it appealing to people who will be there in person, as well as watching it on television,” says Faucon. “The target for this is a high bar that we set for ourselves, and if we achieve that, we have done what we set out to do. If we can’t, then we haven’t done what we were supposed to.

    Follow Automatic week correspondent Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski

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