By James Essex
Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham’s new racing collection, Famous person Racing Expertise, launched its 2021 schedule Monday that can convey star energy to filth and quick tracks for six races in June and July.
The races, which can embody Stewart, Invoice Elliott, Bobby Labonte, Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves, amongst others, can be broadcast at 8 p.m. on CBS.
4 pavement tracks of Stafford, Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Slinger and the Nashville Fairgrounds are featured on the schedule, together with the filth tracks of Eldora and Knoxville. One mission is to create the joy of the previous IROC championships.
“All (tracks) demand respect, and every forces drivers to adapt,” Stewart mentioned. “What works at one observe received’t essentially switch to a different. These venues have seen among the greatest racers within the nation, however this would be the first time drivers from so many various disciplines can be racing on these historic tracks all on the similar time.”
Stewart, a NASCAR staff proprietor and three-time Cup champion driver, and Evernham, Jeff Gordon’s former crew chief, teamed as much as launch the collection that options high drivers throughout a wide range of racing disciplines, together with these with distinguished histories in NASCAR, IndyCar and Formulation One.
“SRX is a collection the place the vehicles can be so evenly matched that expertise as an alternative of kit will win the race,” Stewart mentioned. “The competitors can be intense, and because of the imaginative and prescient of such sturdy leaders within the sports activities and leisure trade, tens of millions will be capable of watch reside and in prime time on CBS.”
Stewart is a co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing within the NASCAR Cup Collection and owns Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. The observe is likely one of the most well-known filth tracks within the nation.
Evernham was Gordon’s crew chief all through the Nineties, and the 2 fashioned some of the prolific driver-crew chief pairings in trendy NASCAR. He transitioned to the possession aspect of NASCAR when Dodge entered NASCAR in 2001, and his Evernham Motorsports staff was folded into one other staff through the 2007 season.
Stewart in contrast SRX to the now-defunct IROC (Worldwide Race of Champions) Collection, which ran from 1974 to 2006, when he was the final champion. Different members in that collection included Dale Earnhardt, Mario Andretti, Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.
“I at all times favored the IROC Collection again within the day, and even earlier than I used to be sufficiently old to be an expert race automobile driver, I checked out that because the cream of the crop,” Stewart mentioned. “Once I received invited to run IROC, it was an enormous honor. You had been a part of an elite group of drivers that received the chance to race one another. I at all times took that basically severely.”
The concept of a modern-day IROC held nice enchantment for him.
“When the collection went away, I feel it left a giant gap,” Stewart mentioned. “It didn’t must be crammed then, however we’ve got a gap now that provides a possibility for guys like myself and a number of the blokes who can be invited who can nonetheless drive race vehicles, nonetheless have the power, nonetheless need to race to come back again. Hopefully, they are going to really feel the way in which I did, prefer it’s a cool alternative to take severely and be seemed as much as as one of the best on the market.”
CBS welcomes the partnership.
“We’re wanting ahead to teaming with Famous person Racing Expertise to convey this thrilling new auto racing collection to CBS in prime time,” mentioned CBS Sports activities chairman Sean McManus. “This revolutionary racing collection will function nice drivers competing on quick tracks and can present viewers with distinctive, behind-the-scenes entry, bringing followers nearer to the motion.
“With the backing from legends within the racing trade, the standard of the drivers and competitors and the environment that quick tracks will assist to create, the Famous person Racing Expertise is a superb addition to our reside summer time sports activities programming that racing followers will embrace,” he mentioned.
Elliott, a NASCAR Corridor of Famer, can be part of the inaugural season. The 2-time Daytona 500 winner and 1988 NASCAR Cup Collection champion was inducted into the NASCAR Corridor of Fame in 2015 and was voted NASCAR’s hottest driver 16 occasions. His son, Chase, has obtained the honour the previous two years.
Elliott closed his full-time Cup profession driving for Evernham’s Dodge staff from 2001 to 2003, successful the 2002 Brickyard 400.
“I’m excited to reunite with Ray Evernham and among the nice legends of our sport,” mentioned Elliott, who joins Stewart and Labonte as NASCAR Corridor of Famers within the SRX. “I look ahead to racing at among the most historic American racing locations and placing on an superior present for the followers. Now we have a particular driver subject, and will probably be enjoyable competing with among the best drivers of all time.”
Labonte mentioned he’s excited to be part of the brand new collection.
“After speaking to Ray over the previous few years and understanding how he operates, it’s going to be nothing however top quality,” Labonte mentioned. “Understanding that he’s behind it and so concerned in it, I feel that’s going to be actually nice.”
Labonte, proprietor of 21 profession NASCAR Cup victories, mentioned he has recognized Evernham had a imaginative and prescient to type a collection like SRX for a few years, mentioning it on and off when working into the driving force on the racetrack.
However when it was clear it was going to occur, it was a no brainer for Labonte to hitch as a driver. He has nonetheless been working a couple of dozen races per 12 months.
“We at all times simply discuss, and he mentioned he was engaged on it, engaged on it, hoping to get one thing accomplished,” Labonte mentioned.
Labonte reacted positively when the concept took form.
“I mentioned, ‘OK, that sounds superior,’” he mentioned. “I had accomplished the IROC collection earlier than. He talked about it might be just like that. Anyway, he mentioned, ‘I’ll preserve you in thoughts. I’ll let what’s happening.’
“I knew they had been getting nearer and heard by the grapevine they had been getting fairly shut, so I reached out and mentioned, ‘Did you get your deal accomplished?’ simply asking the query as a result of I knew he was engaged on one thing. He mentioned, ‘Yeah, completely. Do you need to be in?’ I mentioned, ‘Yeah, positive.’ Lengthy story quick, it didn’t take lengthy from him to say, ‘Hey, do you need to be in?’ for me to say sure.”
9 drivers have been introduced: Stewart, Elliott, Labonte, Castroneves, Paul Tracy, Kanaan, Willy T. Ribbs, Mark Webber and Ernie Francis Jr. with three extra driver bulletins anticipated.
Stewart and Evernham have mentioned the collection is just not meant to compete with NASCAR and is meant to focus on horsepower and driver expertise somewhat than aerodynamics. Drivers will compete in a specialised automobile designed by Evernham.
Evernham mentioned he’s trying to construct a full-body automobile that depends on present security advances, suits inside a finances and “is a automobile that the racing public can relate to, as nicely.” He has had talks with at the very least one tire maker and is in search of producer assist.
“We envision a hybrid of all completely different collection. We don’t see it wanting like a loopy dune buggyish-type automobile,” Evernham mentioned. “To me, it’s received to be a very cool wanting automobile that additionally places it again within the driver’s arms mechanically-wise and permits it to be extra affected by the pedals.”
2021 SRX schedule
Stafford Motor Speedway — June 12
Knoxville Raceway — June 19
Eldora Speedway — June 26
Lucas Oil Raceway — July 3
Slinger Speedway — July 10
Nashville Fairgrounds — July 17