Monday, May 20, 2024

SRX: Recognizing Today’s All-Stars of Automobile Racing

A Celebration.  Recognition.  The Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) provides a sense of happiness for both competitors and spectators.

For an automobile racer, simply being behind the wheel of any competitive level of race car is a dream come true. Others, aim to make their way through the ranks. Some may be comfortable on a domestic level. Others strive for success internationally. It is their journey to the top level. Their game of statistics. A quest to prove themselves worthy of a title symbolic of their capability to compete with the very best in the sport’s wide variety.

The All-Star

Over the past two days, the Superstar Racing Experience announced four all-stars who will be making ringer/cameo appearances across the following venues:

Berlin Raceway (Marne, Michigan)
Lucas Oil Speedway (Wheatland, Missouri)
Motor Mile Speedway (Dublin, Virginia)
Stafford Motor Speedway (Stafford Springs, Connecticut)

Throughout their respective careers, these specific all-stars have showcased their abilities across disciplines of stock cars, open-wheel, sports cars, the former International Race of Champions, and for one, the SRX Series.  These are competitors who emphasize what the SRX looks for in characterization and personality.

Spider-Man (Helio Castroneves)
Shify (Clint Bowyer)
Rowdy (Kyle Busch)
Happy (Kevin Harvick)

Identifiable, these are names who are seen as generational greats.  Names that a specific viewer can say they grew up watching in a specific racing league. As exciting as this news may be, it begs a question of up-and-coming competitors worthy of an opportunity to compete alongside these names. It draws concern for how much attention would be provided to competitors looking for broader opportunities. Something the original iteration of ESPN’s Thursday Night Thunder was known for.

The Land of Opportunity

As there are only 12 entries in an SRX field, the leveled variety of discipline is of equal importance as the leveled competitiveness of the car.

Domestically, up-and-coming competitors show their talent across streaming and niche platforms. Though positivity could come from standard cable exposure from platforms of FOX and CBS Sports, the number of households is nowhere near the number of ESPN.  It provides these athletes the opportunity to place their effort in the same vein as Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and Ken Schrader (among many others) had done before. Yet when established names oversaturate the population, any opportunity to highlight the sport’s future goes out the window.

For Example:

Jamie Chadwick is a 24-year-old from Somerset who will be making the transition to IndyNXT. No stranger to open-wheel racing, she is a three-time and defending champion of the W Series. Her career statistics also include championships in the MRF Challenge Formula 2000 and the British GT Championship.
Kaylee Rae Bryson is a 21-year-old from Muskogee, Oklahoma. In 2022, this USAC competitor became the first female competitor in the history of the Chili Bowl to advance into the A feature. With backing from Toyota, Yahoo, and JBL, competing in the SRX would prove her worthy of the opportunity. Opportunity for her to shine, and to show teams of a higher caliber why she belongs.
Rajah Caruth is a 20-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia who, in 2023, will compete in a full rookie campaign in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Placing 3rd in the 2022 ARCA Menards Series season with an average finish of 7.5, the opportunity to showcase his driving abilities would provide a much wider platform in highlighting his capabilities.

Eternal Happiness

The show itself is what makes the stars. The stars do not make a competition. All-star elements of past and present are key for promotional purposes, yet detrimental if oversaturated.

In a competition where an equal playing field serves as its key selling point, it is with hope and optimism that Season 3 of the SRX will provide the next generation of all-stars with that opportunity. It is exciting to see who the SRX will announce as representing the future.

Pure driving. Real racing. Eternal happiness.

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