CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and three-time championship-winning crew chief Ray Evernham are among a group of investors who have come together to launch a new all-star racing series.
Stewart and Evernham have teamed with former NASCAR executive George Pyne and Sandy Montag, the chairman of talent representation firm The Montag Group, to launch the Superstar Racing Experience.
The series will feature short sprint races with an emphasis on head-to-head competition among elite drivers from diverse racing backgrounds. Each race will include a variety of drivers, courses and elements of reality.
The new series will race exclusively on short tracks, with six races targeted for the inaugural season in 2021. CBS has already agreed to broadcast the races in prime time on Saturday nights next summer.
“We are looking forward to teaming with Superstar Racing Experience to bring this exciting new auto racing series to CBS in primetime,” said Sean McManus, Chairman, CBS Sports. “This innovative racing series will feature great drivers competing on short tracks and will provide viewers with unique, behind-the-scenes access, bringing fans closer to the action. With the backing from legends in the racing industry, the quality of the drivers and competition, and the atmosphere that short tracks will help to create, the Superstar Racing Experience is a great addition to our live summer sports programming that racing fans will embrace.”
The races are expected to fit into a two-hour primetime television window. There will be approximately 90 minutes of racing time within the two-hour window. Races will have no pit stops, but will instead feature a halftime period where the drivers and crew chiefs will make adjustments and strategy decisions.
Evernham is spearheading the design and building of the cars that will be used in the new venture.
“We’ve set this up to bring the focus back to the drivers and their ability to compete head-to-head as opposed to the car deciding who wins,” Evernham said. “That’s going to create a unique dynamic for fans at the track and everywhere else. Adding superstar-caliber drivers and our unique racing features, you’re going to see all kinds of emotions playing out live. It’s going to be quite exciting and rekindle why a lot of people love short-track racing.”
Fans can expect to see well-known crew chiefs and drivers in each race, with 12 drivers and crew chiefs randomly paired together for each event.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Stewart said the new series will, in its own way, continue on the legacy left behind by the International Race of Champions series. IROC, which existed from 1974 to 2006, brought racers from various racing disciplines together for an all-star series at various venues across the United States.
IROC’s later years were dominated by NASCAR stars, with Mark Martin claiming a record five IROC championships. Stewart claimed the last IROC title in 2006, with other NASCAR drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Rusty Wallace, Davey Allison, Cale Yarborough and Harry Gant among those topping the IROC standings.
IROC wasn’t only a NASCAR driver playground. Bobby Unser, Al Unser and Al Unser Jr. each claimed IROC titles, as did Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt.
“When the series went away, I think it left a big hole,” Stewart told the Associated Press. “It didn’t needed to be filled then, but we have an opening now that gives an opportunity for guys like myself and a lot of the guys who will be invited who can still drive race cars, still have the ability, still want to race, to come back. Hopefully they will feel the way I did, like it’s a cool opportunity to take seriously and be looked up to as the best out there.”