Ray Evernham’s and Tony Stewart’s promising Superstar Racing Experience (SRX)—the Camping World SRX Series—kicks off June 12, 8 p.m. (CBS TV) at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway with drivers from every major form of the sport . . . except drag racing.
SRX competitor Paul Tracy, the longtime open-wheel standout and current NBC analyst for the NTT IndyCar Series, said he thinks NHRA Funny Car champion Ron Capps would be a strong candidate in the future for the IROC-style dirt-car tour.
“I think Capps is the guy. He likes to drive cars and road race. He’s a big fan of everything. So he’s a good guy, always been a fan of road racing, IndyCars, and stock cars. I think he’d be my pick if they were to bring in a drag guy,” Tracy said in a recent Zoom meeting.
And Capps, who like fellow Funny Car champions Cruz Pedregon has had experience doing something besides racing in a straight line, said he’s all for it.
“I got to test with the IROC Series right before they closed. I went and tested at Talladega and Chicagoland with the IROC people. And I got to be on the track with Dick Trickle and Dave Marcis and the guys that were test drivers then and then, of course, going out with some of the IROC drivers, as well. That that was quite an experience,” Capps said. “I did that three times and then raced in the Prelude to the Dream, Tony Stewart’s dirt race (at Eldora Speedway), all those years. I got to do that every year that they had that, with drivers of every series in it, by the time it was over.”
Capps said, “That was the only time, I’ve told people, that you could walk in the pit area and see most of the drivers smiling all the time. You don’t normally see most of us, especially NASCAR guys but most of us, smiling at any given moment at the racetrack like that.
“Then you go out on the track and everybody was just having fun, but it was so serious at the same time. Of course, there was a lot of beating and banging going on in that race. So, you know, it was cool for me to go down the back straightaway and have Tony Stewart on one side and Kyle Busch on the other. And you’re trying to stay wide open into the next corner,” he said. “Those are moments you’d never imagined you’d be in. So yeah, I had a blast doing that.”
Tracy said, “It’s an honor to be invited to this. Current drivers and guys who have been shortly retired and guys who have been out of the sport for a long time have called me and said, ‘How do I get in this? I want to be in this.’” He said he refers them to Evernham.
But evidently Capps’ name has come up in SRX discussions, for Capps said he has received a call from a prominent member of the media involved with the series.
“It has come up a bunch, actually,” Capps said. “They’ve got to work around scheduling, obviously, with all the different motorsports.” He got a note saying, “Hey, man, we were just talking about (the fact we’d) love to have you in the series next year. Let’s chat, maybe do dinner when you get to Charlotte again.” Said Capps, “So it was like, ‘Ooh, that could be good.’ So hopefully yeah.”
Capps’ boss, team owner Don Schumacher, likely wouldn’t have a problem with the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge driver spending some spare time in the SRX series.
“Oh yeah, no, no, no. He lets me go do other stuff like that,” Capps said, acknowledging “a lot of scheduling” would have to take place if he were to be invited to participate. “I wouldn’t be able to skip any of our (NHRA) runs to get to some (SRX races).”
Whatever happens, Capps said he’s an SRX fan: “I’m excited about it. You know, obviously, they put together some pretty cool stuff. It’s going to be fun to watch.”
Versatile veteran Willie T. Ribbs, one of the SRX headliners, said, “This is a big gig. I mean, CBS Live? There’s a lot of drivers that would love to be in this show. They’d pay to be in it.”
But he teased, “Drag racers, they like to finish early. They like to go home early: ‘Four and a half seconds, then let’s take the rest of the day off.’ But what we could do is put a dragstrip next to the bullring and we could have two different events. We could race each other on the bullring and then jump over to the dragstrip and drag [race] each other.”
He liked the suggestion that Las Vegas Motor Speedway could accommodate such a spectacle, with its Bullring next to The Strip.
“That would be perfect,” Ribbs said.
Capps is game.
Ribbs said, “It’s great honor to be picked, but it’s going to be even a greater honor to go out there and put on a show. That’s what we are there to do: race each other, but we are going to be putting on a show. We’re going to be exciting. We’re going to put Excitement on the side of our car.”
Ron Capps can hold his own with that. He has been plenty exciting for taking to the racetrack for four seconds or less. In that short burst, he has driven in excess of 339 mph. He has ridden out fiery engine explosions. He has seen the body of his car shredded to smithereens. He has hung upside-down on a catch fence for longer than an entire round of eliminations would take. So Capps knows all about excitement.
And he—probably like Pedregon or Funny Car competitor JR Todd or Top Fuel grinder Doug Kalitta, the 1994 USAC national sprint-car champion—would love to take a spin with the SRX series.
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