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Ray Evernham Predicted the Downfall of SRX

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What’s Happening?

One of the toughest moments of the offseason for many motorsports fans was the announcement that the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) would not return in 2024. However, one of its founders seemed to know it was heading downhill. Ray Evernham joined the Dale Jr. Download, and he discussed the downfall of the SRX and why he left.

  • The Superstar Racing Experience was founded by Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart in 2021. It was originally conceived as a modern version of “IROC” contested on short tracks with retired motorsports stars competing against one local legend.
  • The series evolved and changed over time with more modern drivers being included, and getting rid of the local hero. However, the races were still contested on local short tracks, routinely selling out these venues.
  • Fans were very upset to see SRX go. Many do not know exactly what happened, but, Evernham offers some insight into where the series went wrong.

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The Original Concept

Ray Evernham opened up to Earnhardt Jr. about what the original concept of the SRX was. Unfortunately, the series evolved to something that did not fit his original vision.

When I designed that series I wanted it to be a mini IROC for drivers guys like [Earnhardr Jr.] and Jeff [Gordon] and Tony [Stewart]. Guys that are retiring from the sport younger and younger. didn’t really want to race, but wouldn’t mind doing something like this that was safer andhave a little bit of fun and made it Motorsports entertainment made for TV

Ray Evernham

Obviously, as the SRX evolved, there were elements of Evernham’s original vision, but, there were also aspects that changed. The series continued to be contested on local short tracks, but, the fields changed drastically.

In 2021, year one of the SRX, only one part-time driver was full-time in NASCAR or IndyCar, and that was Hailie Deegan. Even looking at the guest drivers, Chase Elliott was the only full-time NASCAR driver of that list. That’s a total of only 2 of 20 (10%) drivers.

Fast-forward to 2023, and 11 of 27 (41%) drivers were full-time in NASCAR or IndyCar. The series evolved to including more current drivers, and not as many drivers that were retired or semi-retired. It’s fair to say that, particularly the participants in the series, did not fit Evernham’s original vision.

Where Things Went South

Evernham gave some insight into the split between him and those invovled with the SRX. It seems there was a disagreement about what the path forward was on the series.

At the end of the year when there’s no moving forward financially or things like that, you have to have a hard conversation with the partners like, wait a minute, this is what we agreed on. This is what I think it’s going to take to be successful, and, at that time, the other partners felt like it was going to take something else for it to be successful or they could be successful a different way. I didn’t want to do that, so I said, okay well you probably need to have somebody else run this then because I don’t believe that that path that you’re going will be successful, so I stepped aside and you unfortunately it’s not been successful.

Ray Evernham

As we went into earlier, the series did take a much different direction in the last few seasons. It went where Evernham seemed like he did not want it to go. He doesn’t seem to be happy that the SRX has failed after just three seasons either.

He went into more detail about where the SRX and he split off. Specifically, he talked about the driver rosters and the heavy emphasis on NASCAR.

I think um once it got off to being a bunch of current cup guys, it became something much different than I started.

Ray Evernham

When we wrote about what went wrong with the SRX back in January, we noted how much more of an emphasis there was on NASCAR as the series progressed. NASCAR drivers made up 37% of the grid in 2021, compared to 71% of the grid in 2023. It did take a turn, and it took one that Evernham did not want.

Evernham was not happy about having to leave SRX. He described the scenario he went through as similar to a breakup, along with knowing that the path the series was going down wasn’t going to work long-term.

I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t I mean it’s like watching watching your old girlfriend going on a date with somebody else, and you keep thinking man that that’s not going to be good for you…It did bother me to see some of the changes that were made and some of the things they said, some of the things that it was becoming that we had never intended it to do. I watched some of the turns that they made, and I thought to myself ‘it’s just not going to make it’ and unfortunately they didn’t

Ray Evernham

Frankly, Evernham was seemingly proven right at the end of the day. The SRX ended up failing after just three seasons.

Would it have succeeded if they followed the original vision Evernham had? We won’t know ultimately, but, it doesn’t seem that Evernham took any joy in seeing the series fall either.

Will the Series Ever Return?

Earnhardt Jr. directly asked Evernham if the series would ever make a return. Evernham did provide a slightly optimistic outlook on the future of the SRX and series like it.

I think there’s a place for a series like that if it’s done properly, and there’s a business case. That business case has to be really looked at, and I don’t think you can go from point A to point D like a rocket ship. You have to go B, C, and D. I think that there’s 100% a place for something like what IROC was or SRX was that is a form of Motorsports entertainment.

Ray Evernham

Now that Evernham has bought IROC, it seems the wheels are already turning for a potential new SRX or IROC. It may not come anytime soon, but, it does not seem that the hopes of a series like this are dead yet.

The SRX went down a path that Ray Evernham did not want it to go down, and it ended up failing. Would it have succeeded if they stayed the course? We may never know.

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