The national spotlight will shine brightly on Slinger Speedway this summer.
The Washington County race track has been selected to host one of the Superstar Racing Experience events as part of a new six-race, short-track stock car series to launch in June.
The Slinger Race, billed as “the world’s fastest quarter-mile oval,” will be broadcast live during prime time on CBS and the CBS All-Access streaming service on July 10.
The Superstar Racing Experience series, or SRX for short, will feature drivers from a variety of racing backgrounds with an emphasis on head-to-head competition in short sprint races. The 90-minute races will be produced in a two-hour television window.
SRX has secured driver engagements from some of the biggest names in the sport, including SRX co-founder Tony Stewart, Bill Elliott, Tony Kanaan, Paul Tracy, Bobby Labonte, Willy T. Ribbs, Mark Webber, Ernie Francis Jr. and Helio Castroneves, as well as other pilots to be announced at a later date.
âThere are road racing series all over the country every weekend, but when you put one of that caliber together and put it live on TV, anyone can see it across the country,â Todd Thelen, owner and promoter of Slinger Speedway. noted. “It’s a whole new level.”
Thelen said he was particularly excited about the mix of racers from stock cars, open wheels and Formula 1.
SRX and CBS Sports announced the full 2021 schedule this week. The series kicks off at Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs, Connecticut on June 12. The inaugural season’s final and championship race will take place at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on July 17.
âWith a six-week back-to-back schedule crossing America, visiting some of auto racing’s most historic and challenging short tracks, the SRX series will be a must-see, and I’m so excited to see these legends on the track. Said Ray Evernham, co-founder of SRX and team leader and owner of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The goal of developing the calendar is to present tracks that are challenging, unique and that have a strong history in motorsport, Stewart said in a statement.
âThis six-race series does just that,â said Stewart. âEveryone demands respect and everyone forces drivers to adapt. What works on one track will not necessarily transfer to another.
Slinger Speedway offers “action packed side-to-side races,” said Thelen. âIt’s a really fun place to race because of the layout of the track. “
Many of NASCAR’s top drivers have competed at the Slinger Nationals, the racetrack’s flagship event.
Discussions about the Slinger Speedway hosting an SRX race began about two years ago, Thelen explained.
âI thought we would be a good fit. I know people at Tony Stewart Racing and I’m pretty well connected to the racing world, âhe said.
The effort was boosted by champion NASCAR driver in Cambridge, Wisconsin and retired Matt Kenseth.
âHe said a good word to me and to the circuit,â said Thelen.
SRX contacted Thelen in August to inquire about possible dates for a race. Negotiations continued until the fall and a contract was signed just before the end of the year.
NASCAR champions like Kenseth and Alan Kulwicki have stepped out of Slinger Speedway, Thelen noted.
âThe Slinger Speedway has been known to a lot of people for a long time. It’s a bit like Lambeau Field in short track races and it will be like having a Super Bowl at Lambeau Field, âhe said.
Slinger Speedway has a capacity of 10,000 seats, but has operated under social distancing guidelines throughout the pandemic and initially made 2,500 tickets available for the SRX race.
âWe have about 25 percent open for sale right now until we see what happens,â Thelen said.
The Slinger Speedway has operated during the past racing season in strict compliance with COVID-19 mitigation measures.
âI even bought a thousand gallons of hand sanitizer,â Thelen said. âWe waded around last summer and were lucky not to have one that goes back to the speed track. We never let in more than 25 percent. I’ve worked hard enough with state and local lawmakers to open the doors, so I’ll do what they recommend at this point. This is what we have done and this is what I will continue to do throughout the winter. If we can get back to some normalcy this summer, maybe we can get back to a full crowd. “
Thelen admits that organizing the SRX race presents a major challenge, given that it is only four days after the Slinger Nationals race.
âThe old-fashioned promotion says you don’t have big events that tight, but I think it can be a once in a lifetime opportunity so we have to do it,â Thelen said. âIt’s going to be a really big week for us.