Tony Stewart’s new auto racing league to give fans an alternative to NASCAR – The Washington Post

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Since then, Stewart has tended to his NASCAR team, Stewart-Haas Racing, and continued to race on smaller dirt tracks across the country. But on Monday, his retirement shifted into a different gear, so to speak, with the news that he’s starting a new auto racing circuit alongside fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Ray Evernham, agent Sandy Montag and former NASCAR chief operating officer George Pyne.

The new venture, as reported by Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand, will be called Superstar Racing Experience (or SRX) and will consist of six short-track races starting next summer, with all of the races televised live on Saturday nights by CBS. Unlike NASCAR, the SRX races will be designed to maintain viewer interest in part by fitting into a two-hour window, with two 45-minute heats and no pit stops.

“That’s enough time to showcase the personalities in a way that’s fun and appealing and exciting,” Pyne told Ourand. “Having close, competitive racing, you’re going to get 20 or 30 lead changes in a race.”

There will be only 12 drivers per race, and they will drive identical cars designed by Evernham with identical equipment. Plus, each driver will be randomly paired with a crew chief for each race.

The races will take place at smaller tracks in what Ourand describes as “the American heartland,” and the cars will be designed to race over a number of surfaces and styles — dirt, paved ovals, road courses, etc. — to further differentiate the product from NASCAR. Eldora Speedway, Stewart’s short track in western Ohio, likely will be one of the venues.

Evernham, who won three Cup Series titles as Jeff Gordon’s crew chief, expressed his anticipation for the new venture after the news broke Monday morning:

The former crew chief told the Associated Press that he hopes to design a safe, budget-friendly car that “the racing public can relate to.”

“We envision a hybrid of all different series — we don’t see it looking like a crazy dunebuggyish type car,” Evernham said. “To me, it’s got to be a really cool-looking car that also puts it back in the drivers hands, mechanically-wise and allows it to be more affected by the pedals.”

SRX has yet to announce its roster of drivers, but the circuit’s newly created Twitter account follows only seven people, among them retired NASCAR drivers Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr., seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (who’s in his last year of full-time racing) and former IndyCar driver Paul Tracy. Ourand says SRX “expects to have its pick of well-known crew chiefs and drivers, both active and retired.”

“You know, drivers retiring and being out of the sport so young, we think there are guys who still want to race, still can race, but just don’t want to run 200 mph,” Evernham told the AP.

Racing observers noted similarities between SRX and the IROC series, which was created in the 1970s and featured 12 all-star drivers from across auto racing competing in identical stock cars. Stewart, who also was an IndyCar champion during his career, won the final IROC title in 2006 before the circuit fell apart over lack of sponsorship.

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