CONCORD, N.C. — Legends and future superstars, that’s the driver pool for the new Superstar Racing Experience that is scheduled to launch in 2021.
The first driver to sign up is three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, who is also one of the four people who are working to make the new series a reality.
“I’m super excited about driving,” Stewart said during a Zoom teleconference on Monday morning. “I’m signed up as the first driver and couldn’t be more excited about it. This is an opportunity for something I’ve looked forward to and feel like I’ve been missing for a long time.
“I was the last winner of the IROC series, and I remember how much fun I had with all the different drivers and everything that competed there,” Stewart noted. “This is a huge opportunity to bring superstars from so many different disciplines of motorsports together and bring them in unique cars that nobody has ever driven before at race tracks likely none of us have driven at before and have an opportunity to really have a lot of fun and put a product out there that I think fans are really going to enjoy watching.”
Three-time championship-winning crew chief Ray Evernham, who is also part of the group organizing the series, explained they hope to feature drivers from all disciplines of motorsports from around the world.
“We’re actually looking across many, many different series for our drivers, but there are drivers who are superstars and legends,” Evernham said. “There are drivers who are about to become superstars and legends. We want a mix of drivers from motorsports communities around the world, whether that’s open-wheel, closed sedan-type racing, extreme sports, Formula One, there are names that are out there … a lot of guys like Tony are still very engaged in racing automobiles around the world that don’t really want to run 30 or 40 times a year and don’t want to run 200 mph every weekend.
“We’ve gotten a tremendous amount of interest just since we announced it. My phone has been ringing off the hook this morning. Really it’s about putting people in position that are current superstars or legends or have the potential to be superstars and legends.”
The series is being organized by Stewart, Evernham, former NASCAR executive George Pyne and The Montag Group Chairman of Talent Representation Sandy Montag with the goal of giving race fans what they’ve been asking for: short-track racing on Saturday nights with drivers fans will be familiar with.
“What we want to do is bring an exciting brand of racing back to the heartland, back to the short tracks, which we all know is the backbone of racing,” said Pyne. “Racing focused on the drivers, on the crew chiefs. Bringing these personalities to life on national TV in primetime.”
The series has a significant head start, having already signed a television agreement with CBS. There are still many details to be worked out, including what tracks the series will race on.
Evernham, who is overseeing the building of the cars, said the series is expected to host events on asphalt and dirt. He has already identified a handful of tracks he’d like to see on the inaugural six-race schedule, though nothing has been officially announced.
“The places we’re looking at are places like the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, a half-mile with great big old covered grandstands,” Evernham said. “Stafford Springs, Conn., Pensacola, Fla., short tracks that are famous that have put on big events that are the grassroots of America.
“We want to go to dirt tracks. Obviously, Eldora, probably being one of the most famous dirt tracks in America and Tony being involved there, or Knoxville or Terre Haute. The names that are going to register to the people that have been watching racing for years. We also are considering a modified road course if you will.”
Evernham, who was a mechanic with the International Race of Champions early in his career, said the cars will be designed more around horsepower and less around aerodynamics. The goal, Evernham says, is to make the racing more about the skill of the drivers and less about the design of the race car.
“Our goal is to put how well the driver performs back in his hands,” Evernham said. “Less about the technology, less about how fast the car is, more about the human factor. As a race fan, I’m very, very excited to see that kind of competition.”
Stewart echoed Evernham’s sentiment.
“Hopefully, I can bring a little bit to what the drivers want, what these cars should feel like and have an opportunity to have a series where the drivers truly make the difference here,” Stewart said. “It’s not about engineers or computers, it’s about crew chiefs and drivers working together with the limited amount of tools in their bag, so to speak.”
Stewart said the series will not — in any way — be a competitor to NASCAR or any other major motorsports sanctioning body.
“Our series is separate from everything in NASCAR. It’s not meant to compete with NASCAR,” Stewart said. “It’s another form of motorsports that the fans, I think, are craving. We’re not looking to try and partner up as far as race weekends. We want six standalone weekends at six standalone tracks.
“There are so many small tracks in the United States that provide great racing. We really want to go out and do something that’s unique, do something that’s different with a format that’s different, cars that are going to be different,” Stewart noted. “We really don’t want an association directly with NASCAR. They’ve obviously got a great product, and this isn’t in competition with them by any means.”