SRX hires Don Hawk as CEO to grow TV motorsport ownership

Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham will boss the second season of the Superstar Racing Experience, a CBS all-star summer series made for a surprisingly strong debut.

SRX named Don Hawk its first chief executive on Thursday, a daily position with a job description that covers just about everything. The six-race series was designed to fill Saturday night’s otherwise empty CBS programming, but it was an instant hit and almost immediately too big for co-creators Stewart and Evernham.

SRX said the CEO is responsible for “all series strategy, operations and business development, including media, sales and marketing, personnel, job relations, local events, competition, driver and crew chief relations, regulations, safety and international expansion.”

“SRX is coming off an amazing first year with a lot of momentum, and I couldn’t be happier to have Hawk take on this new role for us,” said Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion. “He is incredibly respected in every corner of racing and someone I have worked and admired for years.”

SRX was conceived by Stewart and Evernham, both NASCAR Hall of Famers, as a contemporary series in which all-star drivers compete in Evernaham’s equally well-prepared cars. They dreamed of recreating the old International Race of Champions series, an idea supported by both Sandy Montag, CEO of the Montag Group, and George Pyne, CEO of Bruin Capital.

Much of SRX’s success in the first season was based on the idea that this was just televised racing for fun. Stewart and Evernham were able to change rules along the way and often followed the reaction of fans in their adjustments. At the sixth and final race, then-NASCAR champion Chase Elliott defeated his 65-year-old father the night before a Cup race, and Stewart was crowned the first series champion on Saturday night at the sold-out old Nashville Fairgrounds in Tennessee.

For a successful second season, SRX needs some formalities and turned to Hawk to produce the show in the future. SRX said Hawk will begin immediately and will “report to the Board of Directors of Ray Evernham, Tony Stewart, George Pyne and Sandy Montag.”

Hawk has spent more than three decades in industry leadership roles, most notably as the force behind the business success of the late Dale Earnhardt, and most recently at Speedway Motorsports, where he is a long-time trusted confidant of founder Bruton Smith.

Hawk and Speedway Motorsports went their separate ways in late 2021 and Hawk said he was launching his own consulting firm. Less than a month into the new year, he now runs a hot motorsports field.

“I like racing and I like business, that’s all I’ve ever done all my life. Car and race car business before and after college,” Hawk said. “I can’t retire. I’m enjoying this too much.”

He called SRX a “breakthrough hit” for “its completely new approach” and promised an exciting driver lineup and an upcoming schedule announcement. SRX raced at six sacred short circuits across the US on multiple surfaces last year. Each race a local ringer was invited into the field while SRX tried to promote small talents.

SRX managed to spotlight drivers from lesser-known racing series: Doug Coby, a local racer who won the inaugural race, earned a Truck Series start in Bristol and finished 12th in his first NASCAR National Series race.

In addition, the nationally unknown Ernie Francis Jr. of the Trans Am Series telling his story through CBS to a bored summer audience and he will now be driving Indy Lights, a series under IndyCar. It’s part of the race for equality and change in IndyCar, and Francis resembles a tract from Roger Penske to become the series’ only black driver.

“Like so many others, I was a huge fan of the concept and execution,” said Hawk. “I am beyond excited to join the SRX team and help SRX continue to find its niche as a non-traditional form of motorsports entertainment.”

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