No, there isn’t a new Cadillac SRX crossover running at Dakar. And this isn’t the Mitjet 2L-based racing series out of Las Vegas that never took off and was auctioning its assets last fall, that was EXR. SRX is a 6-race summer circle-track series planning to kick off next year as a joint-venture between Tony ‘Smoke’ Stewart and car designer Ray Evernham. On Tuesday we got our first look at Ray’s full sketch of what the SRX platform is supposed to look like. The series sounds like a place for washed-up retired racers to spend their gray-haired days, but at least the car is bitchin’ as hell.
SRX first began putting out design sketches to the public on social media last week when it showed off this incredible front end with a huge deep splitter.
For some reason the SRX accounts were overrun by people who definitely aren’t race car designers demanding that one of the most successful NASCAR crew chiefs of all time change his design to rid the car of its aero. It would seem NASCAR fans are wary of big splitters on race cars for some reason, despite the SRX cars clearly not being NASCAR stock cars in any way, shape, or form.
The same day that this design was unveiled, July 28th, Ray Evernham tweeted “Okay fans, Splitter’s gone” which seems like such a chickenshit move by the series already. What do the fans know about wind tunnels and how the cars will react to aero wash in the draft? Stick to your guns, Ray. Always stick to your guns. If simple things like car design are going to be dictated by the Twitter mob, this series isn’t going to make it very far.
When the back half of the car was unveiled on August 3rd, it was instantly easy to see why the big splitter existed in the first place. With a huge wing sticking up into the clean air above the roof line, the splitter was obviously intended to balance out the SRX chassis, both aerodynamically and visually. Now the car looks very rear-heavy. Obviously Mr. Evernham knows more about stock car-ish aero than I do, but I hope that the car debuts with at least a medium-sized splitter to help it look more cohesive front to back.
The series hopes to run six primetime races on CBS Sports next summer in short palatable 2-hour programs. The goal here is to have shorter races on short tracks without the huge top speeds that NASCAR traditionally has. These are quick sprints. Not only is that better for the television package, but it’s harder for these old duffers to find the stamina to race for hours at a time.
While the series was just founded last month, it’s aiming to deliver an IROC-style challenge as it will combine up-and-comers racing against the old guard of the sport. So who is racing? It’ll be twelve drivers ultimately, but the series has thus far only announced a trio of racers coming out of quasi-retirement.
Obviously as part-owner of the series, 49-year-old Tony Stewart was the first driver announced in the series. You may know him best from his three NASCAR championships and 49 wins from 1999 to 2016. Then again, you may also know him as the guy that ran over and killed Kevin Ward, Jr. during a sprint car race in 2014. Either way, he’s been out of professional racing for four seasons.
The second driver announced was 45-year-old Brazilian Indycar ace Tony Kanaan. Tony is running a partial retirement season in 2020 with A.J. Foyt Enterprises. Tony has a single Indy 500 win, in 2013, and a single IndyCar championship in 2004. While TK has scored two podiums in the last four seasons, he hasn’t stood on the top step since the final race of 2014.
The third driver announced is by far the most disappointing. 51-year-old Canadian IndyCar On NBC announcer Paul Tracy will drive one of the SRX cars next summer. Tracy did win a CART championship back in 2003, and fans say he won the 2002 Indy 500, though the record books say otherwise. He hasn’t raced full time for 13 years, and even his occasional one-off forays into open wheel racing ended in 2012. In addition to being a decade removed from the cockpit, Tracy is a downright obnoxious voice in the commentary booth and has the honor of three entries on the front page when you Google “Indycar Racist”.
No offense to Tony Kanaan—offense to the other two—but I hope the remaining nine race seats are filled by more promising prospects. With such a cool car, I’d really like to see racers like Mr. Seven-Time Jimmie Johnson and a few young guns take up the fight.
Then again, maybe it’ll be like the XFL and it’ll fall apart two or three times before getting bought up by Dwayne Johnson for some reason.