NASHVILLE—One year ago, Ray Evernham approached Tony Eury Jr. about his dream project—Superstar Racing Experience.
Given Eury’s successful track record as premier chassis builder—and current GM of Fury Race Cars—the former crew chief provided Evernham with an ideal sounding board for his vision.
That vision became a reality when the SRX Series debuted 11 months later at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.
“He called me last July with an idea and needed to put some pen to paper,” Eury told RacinBoys.com. “We already had a chassis—this very chassis right here was a road course car for us. We were looking for a way to promote it as a track-day car, then it all just started coming together.
“We actually started building the cars in mid-March. We’d build one about every three days. Our deadline was around May 6th to 10th. We knew we had to do that to give these guys ample time to get things done on their end. We set them up with six sets of suspensions, complete body parts, everything so when they were on the road for six weeks, they would have everything they needed and we could support them.”
Unlike NASCAR or IndyCar, which return home to their shops every week, the SRX series has been caravanning across the U.S. for six weeks straight, culminating with the Championship Race tonight at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. Having all the parts and pieces to repair and recondition the cars from one short-track venue to the next has been a challenge. But the end result has been satisfying.
“There’s been a lot of work in the project, but it’s been fun,” Eury said. “This whole garage here is like back racing in the 2000’s when Ray was so successful and everything. Every car chief that’s working on these cars, every driver in here, everyone is competing, but at the same time there’s a level of friendship. Everybody was happy to see Ernie Francis Jr. win (at Lucas Oil Raceway). That was a big deal.
“But it doesn’t carry the level of pressure in the garage atmosphere you’d see in (NASCAR) Cup right now or Xfinity. It’s kind of like the old days. Everybody here is competing, but at the same time everyone in this garage is making something amazing happen.”
Eury left NASCAR full-time after parting ways with his Earnhardt cousins at JR Motorsports in 2012. He had been the crew chief for Danica Patrick in her final season in the Xfinity Series. The third-generation racer returned to Cup briefly in 2013 and continues to be called on as a substitute crew chief and consultant for a variety of racing series.
By 2016, Fury Race Cars was in full swing. The Mooresville, N.C.-based manufacturer designs and builds cars for NASCAR, ARCA Menards, Pro-All Stars, SCCA, CARS Tour and SRL Southwest Tour—and with remarkable success.
Getting on the ground floor of SRX has been a unique opportunity for Eury. Not only is he testing his car-building skills, but his competitive juices are flowing once again as one of the four crew chiefs on the tour.
Before coming on board with SRX, Eury had just one request of Evernham—spotlight the local drivers.
“When you had the Slim Jim All Pro Series back in the 90s, a guy who couldn’t afford to be in a touring series would run at his local track every Saturday night,” Eury said. “Well, you’ve lost that in the country. There’s not a lot of tracks that run consistently on a Saturday night basis. They can’t do it now. So I asked Ray, ‘It would be really cool to have some way to connect (SRX) back to the grassroots.’
“It’s just like Luke (Fenhaus). Whoever won the Slinger Nationals gets a seat against some of the best racers in the country. Doug Coby (Stafford SRX winner) got a truck ride out of it. When you tie it all together, that’s what brings the race fans back because they know that we’re legitimately trying to help the little guy and trying to make a show like we once had. It’s good to see everybody supporting each other.”
And the fans have supported SRX. The inaugural event at Stafford was a sell-out—as were last week’s race at Slinger Speedway and Saturday’s finale at Nashville Fairgrounds.
“There are a lot of first-time fans,” Eury said. “There were fans at Knoxville who had never been to Knoxville or Eldora. They come just to see this racing. That’s pretty cool, because now you’re tying both ends—‘cause usually, asphalt and dirt are two different worlds and it takes two different race fans. (Kyle) Larson has helped build that bridge—bringing the two together.
“But it’s fun. There’s no other way to describe it. The fans have embraced it. After the races, I’ll go out to the stands to get the fans take on it. They love the racing. They love the atmosphere. They can’t wait for Saturday night. On top of it, they don’t have to sit through a three-to-four-hour race. It’s eight to 10. So I can go to dinner. As long as I’m home by eight, I’m good. Keeping it in a two-hour window has been big.
“Nashville is going to be really huge. Everybody loves running at the Nashville Fairgrounds. I’m really looking forward to it.”