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SRX Puts 2024 Season On Hold

The Tony Stewart-led, made-for-TV all-star series has been idled for the 2024 season, with monetary issues the likely culprit.

The Superstar Racing Experience was a made-for-television, summer-night treat for racing fans over its three-year run. But at least for now, the series sits in park. (STS/Jeff Brown)

The fourth edition of Tony Stewart’s all-star short track showdown seems unlikely to happen in 2024.

The Superstar Racing Experience announced Thursday via social media that, due to “market factors,” the six-race made-for-TV romp through America’s favorite bullrings will not take place as planned.

Fans packed the grandstands at Stafford Motor Speedway for its first three events, with a number of them making their first visit ever to the Connecticut oval. (STS/Jeff Brown)

“It is with deep disappointment that we announce the postponement of SRX’s fourth season,” read the release on Instagram. “We entered the next phase of our racing series with great anticipation and excitement for what was ahead. Our expectations, however, have been tempered by market factors that have proven too much to overcome.

“Time has run out to put forth the kind of event our fans, partners, drivers and tracks deserve. We’re thankful to each for their commitment, their contributions and their support as we brought a new idea to reality.”

Modeled on the long-defunct International Race of Champions, SRX sought to present a thrilling complement to competitive motorsports, drawing together retired and active drivers from major motorsports disciplines in a rapid six-week summer schedule. Unlike IROC, which favored speedways in conjunction with major NASCAR and Indy-style events, SRX opted for a rotation of paved and dirt short tracks, also leaving a provision for a local racing star to participate against the nationally-famed veterans.

Connecticut Modified ace Doug Coby won the inaugural SRX event at Stafford Motor Speedway in 2021, with Midwest Super Late Model wunderkind Luke Fenhaus nearly replicating the feat at his native Slinger Speedway in Wisconsin.

Doug Coby won the inaugural SRX event, but was only one of two “local heroes” to beat the series’ all-star regulars. (STS/Jeff Brown)

The series’ third season saw changes including a television-network switch from CBS to cable network ESPN, in a revival of the sports giant’s “Thursday Night Thunder” open-wheel programming dating back to the 1990s. Driver diversity shifted as well, with more NASCAR stars involved and SRX moving away from the “local hero” angle for most events.

Dirt specialist Jonathan Davenport won the 2023 season finale at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., ironically bookending the series’ three-season history with its only “ringer” victories.

The 2024 season was to include a fifth visit to Stafford in Connecticut, a second try at Vermont’s Thunder Road International Speedbowl after last year’s event was postponed due to floods, a return to Slinger, a stop at Michigan’s famed Berlin Raceway, and a dirt date at Wisconsin’s Cedar Lake Raceway. A sixth date, rumored to be at a dirt track in Canada, was never firmed up.

SRX’s decision seemed abrupt, given that the series’ social media channels were promoting upcoming events only hours before the Thursday-afternoon announcement.

What market forces conspired to derail the season are up for speculation. SRX had not yet announced a sponsor for 2024, and with ratings slipping from season to season, perhaps an entitlement partner had become a tougher sell. Operationally, damage tolls to the field during some events produced concerns that the crews would be challenged to get cars ready for the next event on the calendar. The cost of maintaining a bespoke fleet of race cars with a single week’s turnaround between events, especially in a series encouraging contact and physicality, would have to be steep.

Ray Evernham, who was involved in the formation of SRX before departing the organization, announced earlier in the week that he had purchased intellectual property regarding the old IROC series, in which he was involved many years ago. The timing is intriguing, but with no other announcements, it seems more likely to be a coincidence.

Matt Hirschman’s win in the 2022 Spring Sizzler at Stafford earned him a place in the SRX field as the home-track star. The local racers were not a regular part of the program in its third year. (STS/Jeff Brown)

The impact will be felt hardest by the series’ partner tracks, all five of whom now have a gap on the schedule to fill, and very likely, tickets to refund. Thunder Road has been hit two years in a row, unable to host last year’s race under a statewide state of emergency declaration. The track constructed a new control tower in 2023, a pricey concession to welcome SRX to the venerable oval.

Stafford has already begun issuing refunds to ticket holders.

“We made this announcement now to allow our partners the time and flexibility to best serve their interests,” the release continued. Surely an early postponement is preferable to a last-minute cancellation.

But it also has a stronger sense of finality, which leads to speculation about SRX’ long-term options. Idle years are a tremendous risk in racing, as racers and tracks quickly find other options. SRX could reorganize for a 2025 season. But if Evernham’s revived IROC interests gain traction, or even if not, SRX could find itself with fewer choices for track partners, TV partners, or participants.

Warts and all, SRX was a welcome diversion from the grind of season-long championships and points racing. And it drew national attention to some of the country’s greatest bullrings.

It can only be hoped that something new arises to fill the void.

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Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. A native of New Hampshire and a long-time fan of New England racing, Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional Late Model touring series.

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