The Superstar Racing Experience made its debut this past weekend at the Stafford Speedway with local hero Doug Coby scoring the win on the asphalt-surfaced Connecticut track noted primarily for Modified racing. The new racing tour which will feature both active and retired drivers from various disciplines of the sport will be conducted on a variety of short tracks in a total of six races run on six consecutive weekends. Paved tracks as well as dirt-surfaced venues will serve as the sites of those events.
The SRX is spearheaded by former NASCAR crew chief and team owner Ray Evernham with former NASCAR champion Tony Stewart, businessman and former NASCAR executive George Pyne, and businessman Sandy Montag playing key roles in the development, financing, and running of the operation.
Over the course of those six weeks, the SRX will pit twelve drivers against each other in a format that will call for heat races and a feature race to determine the eventual winner. There are ten drivers who will run the entire series with a “ringer” and a local hero being brought in each week to round out the field.
Along with Stewart, the regular SRX drivers include four-time and current Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, NASCAR champions Bill Elliott and Bobby Labonte as well as Tony Kanaan, Paul Tracy, and two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip.
The next race for the SRX will take place at the famed Knoxville Raceway. The half-mile dirt oval located in Iowa is noted as the “Sprint Car Capital of the World” but is also the home of the Knoxville Late Model Nationals which serves as one of the crown jewel events in that form of racing.
Scott Bloomquist will serve as the ringer for the Knoxville race which will be shown live by CBS on Saturday, June 19th while Sprint Car ace Brian Brown will play the role of local hero. Bloomquist, a two-time winner of the Knoxville Late Model Nationals(2005 & 2009), recently talked with Tony Stewart about the upcoming event. That conversation is posted on FloRacing.com.
The National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame driver has been impressed with everything he has seen of the SRX operation leading into his one appearance with the series.
“I wouldn’t want a job there was the first thing I was thinking because it looked like they were getting a lot done but still had quite a bit left to do,” Bloomquist joked in the discussion with Stewart. “They(the cars) looked great. I was really impressed, I had looked at them on the internet and then coming in the shop and looking around, they looked a lot cooler than I thought when I got around them. It looks like it’s going to be fun. I was impressed with all the different schemes they’ve got on them. I think the whole thing really works. Hopefully it will be something that lives on for a long time.”
Bloomquist, known as a meticulous preparer of his own race cars, lauded Evernham’s work on the cars and with the series. There are a total of 16 SRX cars ready to race at each event along with a myriad of spare pieces and parts needed to handle any racing emergency that might come up. Drivers are assigned a car based on a random draw held each week prior to the start of the racing action.
“I had met Ray but I’d never been around him a lot and being around him and coming to the shop and him showing me some other things in the shop, he’s a great personality,” Bloomquist offered. “I hadn’t really got to be around him, so when I did, I think he’s an awesome person to have involved.”
The driver who two years ago was injured in a serious motorcycle accident has always been one to enjoy knew challenges and the SRX experience will be no different.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he declared. “It’s going to be exciting. I’ve always done really well at new things. I’m very optimistic, we’re back in good shape and I know I’ll be able to perform at my best. It’ll be fun racing against a bunch of different people I haven’t raced.”
When asked who he was most looking forward to competing against, the 57-year-old legend did not have to look very far.
“I know the one I’m going to have to beat,” he said, pointing back at Stewart. “But I don’t know, you know. It’s Knoxville, so with us being at Knoxville I can only assume you’re going to be the guy. The others, I don’t know, they’re probably concerned about you at Knoxville also.”
More than the competitors, Bloomquist looks forward to the challenges the track will provide for himself as well as those with backgrounds in NASCAR and IndyCar racing.
“I’ve got a lot of curiosity more than excitement,” he pointed out. “I’m just curious to see how we do. You know Knoxville is such a different place and goes through quite a lot of transitions so that will be what’s more fun to watch and be a part of, watching the other people who in their careers don’t have that much experience on that type of surface.”
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That said, the winner of more than 600 Dirt Late Model feature events believes that those from other disciplines will have the opportunity to adapt quickly because of the nature of the track.
“You don’t really run Knoxville sideways,” Bloomquist explained. “They’re going to be better than I have really considered. I think everybody will do a good job. Maybe not if it was someplace where you backed it in, but Knoxville’s really straight. Hopefully the cars will turn.”
Both he and Stewart agreed that the Knoxville Raceway will provide an adequate test for all involved.
“It’s hooked up like no other when it’s hooked up and it’s slick like no other when it’s not. It’ll be a test for both of us too, I’m sure.”
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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