Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) announced a new multi-year media deal with ESPN to bring back Thursday Night Thunder.
If you are unfamiliar with SRX the series was founded by Tony Stewart, Ray Evernham, Sandy Montag and The Montag Group, and former NASCAR COO George Pyne. The series races at six short tracks across the United States and features a number of NASCAR and IndyCar legends including Bill Elliott, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Tony Kanaan, Bobby Labonte, Marco Andretti, Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Helio Castoneves.
It also features up and comers in the sport as well as those at the top of their game such as Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Ernie Francis Jr., and Hailie Deegan. One of the unique aspects of the series is it allows those at the top of the short track game in various disciplines to either race their way in or get voted in via a fan poll. Last year, the race at Stafford Motor Speedway featured the best Tour Type Modified driver in Matt Hirschman while the race at Five Flags featured one of the best in Super Late Model racing in Bubba Pollard.
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Beginning in the summer of 2023, SRX races will be broadcast on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN and the ESPN app.
According to a press release from SRX and ESPN, Thursday Night Thunder originally launched on ESPN back in the 1980s and featured drivers like Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon before they became the NASCAR legends they are today.
The program originally launched on ESPN2 and featured a number of dirt and paved oval tracks across the United States especially tracks around the Indianapolis area. It highlighted a number of different racing series including Silver Crown, midget, and sprint cars. It eventually transitioned to Saturday night and became Saturday Night Thunder.
Stewart, the co-founder of SRX and the 2021 SRX Champion is excited by the deal and the return to Thursday night, “Thursday Night Thunder is where guys like me, who were just starting our careers in USAC, got the chance to make a name for ourselves because of its presence on ESPN.”
He added, “It’s great to see Thursday Night Thunder return, but to also be a part of it all over again with SRX.”
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SRX CEO Don Hawk also stated, “When we had the opportunity to pitch the concept of Thursday Night Thunder on ESPN, it was my firm belief this would be another disruptive and monumental moment in SRX and racing history – reuniting race fans with ESPN on short tracks with Superstar drivers all across the U.S. for years to come.”
He added, “Thursday Night Thunder is where I met Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. A relationship between SRX and ESPN seemed like the right fit at the perfect time, and I couldn’t be more excited for this summer.”
SRX’s six race 2023 season begins on Thursday, July 13th and will continue in consecutive weeks until it wraps up on Thursday, August 17th. Race locations and drivers are expected to be announced at a later date.
In 2021 SRX traveled to Stafford Motor Speedway, Knoxville Raceway, Eldora Speedway, Lucas Oil Raceway, Slinger Speedway, and Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.
In 2022, they went to Five Flags Speedway, South Boston Speedway, Stafford Motor Speedway, Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, and Sharon Speedway.
In the series’ first two seasons it was broadcast on Saturday nights on CBS. In the first season, it averaged 1.27 million viewers per race. It’s highest viewership came at Eldora Speedway on June 26th where it posted 1.38 million viewers. It’s lowest rated race was at the Lucas Oil Raceway on July 3rd. Only 1.05 million people tuned it to that one.
This past season viewership dipped to an average of 1.002 million viewers per race. It’s highest viewership came in the final two races at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 and Sharon Speedway where it posted viewership of 1.06 million at both races. It’s lowest viewership came at the season opener at Five Flags Speedway with only 950,000 people tuning in.
What do you make of this new deal to bring SRX to ESPN and Thursday nights?
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