Superstar Crew Chiefs Join Camping World SRX Series


(Press release from Superstar Racing Experience)

(Photos: Courtesy Superstar Racing Experience)

Mike Beam, Jeff Hammond and Todd Parrott a Part of Inaugural Season with Local All-Star Crew Chiefs Joining Trio at Each SRX Event

Drivers aren’t the only superstars of the Camping World SRX Series. Three veteran NASCAR crew chiefs have joined the six-race short-track series that debuts this Saturday night at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway, and they’ll be joined by their local all-star counterparts at each SRX event.

With a combined 77 NASCAR Cup Series victories between them, Mike Beam, Jeff Hammond and Todd Parrott bring decades of race-winning experience to the Camping World SRX Series. All have won some of the biggest races in NASCAR, from Beam winning the 1994 Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway with Bill Elliott, to Hammond helping score Darrell Waltrip’s long-coveted victory in the 1989 Daytona 500, to Parrott’s powerhouse 1996 performance that saw Dale Jarrett win three of NASCAR’s biggest races – the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Brickyard 400.

This trio will be joined by a local all-star crew chief at every Camping World SRX Series event and, via a blind draw, each crew chief will have three drivers assigned to them. Just like in the multicar teams of today’s racing era, the crew chief will have to balance his own outfit’s desire to win with each individual driver’s will to win. This dynamic will play out live every Saturday night beginning June 12 at 8 p.m. ET on the CBS Television Network with streaming on Paramount+.

“Even though we’re shining a spotlight on 12 of the most accomplished drivers in racing every Saturday night in the Camping World SRX Series, racing is not an individual sport,” said Ray Evernham, co-founder of the Camping World SRX Series. “The driver is the quarterback, but the crew chief is like the head coach. He sees things the driver doesn’t, and he finds ways to get the best out of the driver by rallying a team around him. That’s always been a part of motorsports and it always will be. We wanted to highlight that in SRX by bringing in three of the most accomplished crew chiefs in NASCAR and by showcasing some equally talented crew chiefs who have excelled at the grassroots level.

“Mike Beam, Jeff Hammond and Todd Parrott – they’re all still very competitive people. They’ll have the unique challenge of making sure their team performs the best in a single race, but then again every week with a different group of drivers as they’ll also have their eye on the championship. And the local all-star crew chiefs will keep them on their toes. Each of them knows their respective racetrack better than anyone.

“All of these crew chiefs will be able to coach their drivers and make some subtle changes to the cars based on their drivers’ feedback. They’re all in this thing to win. Times may have changed, but their will to win hasn’t.

The local all-star crew chief at Stafford is Mike Christopher. His 28 wins as a driver there in the SK Modified division is fifth in track history, and the Plainville, Connecticut-native is a three-time track champion – 1989, 1990 and 1993. Christopher is the twin brother of the late Ted Christopher, whose 109 SK Modified wins and 131 overall wins are the most in Stafford history, and whose nine SK Modified championships at Stafford from 1996 to 2014 top all competitors. Ted Christopher lost his life in a plane crash in September 2017. Mike Christopher, who also has driven extensively in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour with five top-fives and 14 top-10s in 75 starts, currently serves as crew chief for his son Mike Christopher Jr., a six-time feature winner over the past four seasons in the SK Modified division.

In the series’ next race June 19 at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway, Guy Forbrook will be the local all-star crew chief. Forbrook is a second-generation racer from Minnesota and a 2017 inductee into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. His promising driving career was cut short by a passenger car accident at a young age that relegated him to a wheelchair. Though it ended his driving career after double-digit wins throughout Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, Forbrook went on to achieve great success as a mechanic, crew chief and team owner over the past three decades. He put together his first sprint car team with the help of Ron Kohls in 1988 that in its first two years alone claimed 54 feature wins with drivers Jerry Richert Jr. and Danny Lasoski. Forbrook is best known for his success at Knoxville, where he has 87 victories and 11 track championships. His career numbers include more than 288 feature wins at 69 different racetracks in 23 states while working with a virtual who’s who of short-track drivers that includes Lasoski, Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Jac Haudenschild, Terry McCarl, Tim Kaeding and Jeff Shepard.

At the Camping World SRX Series’ second and final dirt-track race June 26 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, Keith Kunz will be the local all-star crew chief. Over the past two decades, Kunz has built one of the most formidable teams in USAC Midget racing, and the native of Springfield, Illinois, has become known for giving young drivers their first big breaks, most notably with Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell who are now winners in the NASCAR Cup Series. Kunz won his first USAC National Midget championship with the late Jason Leffler behind the wheel in 1997, earned his second with driver Cole Whitt in 2008, his third with the late Bryan Clauson in 2010, his fourth with Bell in 2013 and his fifth with Rico Abreu in 2014 before scoring three consecutive titles from 2016 through 2018 with youngsters Tanner Thorson, Spencer Bayston and Logan Seavey, respectively. The team is also a perennial favorite to score victories in short-track racing’s most iconic events, including the Chili Bowl and Turkey Night Grand Prix.

When the Camping World SRX Series returns to pavement July 3 at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis, Tim Clauson will be the local all-star crew chief. Clauson was the 2011 USAC Crew Chief of the Year and he is co-owner of Clauson Marshall Racing (CMR), winner of the 2018 USAC National Sprint Car championship and the 2019 USAC National Midget championship, both with driver Tyler “Sunshine” Courtney. The team is an evolution of his late son’s enterprise, Bryan Clauson Racing, which ended tragically on Aug. 7, 2016 when Bryan succumbed to injuries sustained in a crash at the Belleville (Kansas) Midget Nationals. Last November, Courtney won his third consecutive Western World Nationals to give CMS its 65th feature victory.

In the penultimate Camping World SRX Series race July 10 at Slinger (Wis.) Speedway, veteran short-track ace Scott Hansen will be the local all-star crew chief. The native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, was a national short-track barnstormer who won more than 100 events in five major touring series – American Speed Association (ASA), ARTGO Challenge, Hooter’s Cup, All Pro Super Series and NASCAR Southwest Tour. Hansen won events on dirt tracks, road courses and pavement, earning rookie-of-the-year honors during the 1984 ARTGO Challenge and 1989 ASA Challenge campaigns. Hansen also drove for team owner Ken Schrader in NASCAR’s Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series, as well as the Menards ARCA Series.

A local all-star crew chief for the series’ finale July 17 at the Nashville (Tenn.) Fairgrounds Speedway will be determined at a later date.

Beam is a veteran of more than 600 NASCAR Cup Series races over 22 seasons, a run that began with Kyle Petty’s first fulltime season in 1981. Beam scored his maiden Cup Series victory with Elliott in the fall 1990 race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, one of the duo’s 12 top-five finishes en route to fourth in the season championship. The two were victorious again in the 1994 Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, and Beam’s most recent Cup Series victory came with driver Ricky Craven in the fall 2001 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. After working his last Cup Series race in 2004, the Hickory, North Carolina-native continued as a crew chief in the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series through 2014, highlighted by 10 Xfinity Series victories with Carl Edwards in more than 39 races together at Roush Fenway Racing in 2010 and 2011. In the Truck Series, Beam scored six wins in 14 races with Mark Martin in 2006, and four wins with driver Travis Kvapil in 2007.

Hammond is perhaps best known over the past two decades for his work as a NASCAR television commentator, but he is one of the winningest crew chiefs in Cup Series history. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and former cornerback at East Carolina University under coach Pat Dye, Hammond broke into NASCAR in 1974 as a tire changer and then a jackman at Junior Johnson & Associates and played a role in driver Cale Yarborough’s three consecutive Cup Series titles from 1976 to 1978 before Waltrip’s 1981 championship. Hammond was promoted to crew chief in 1982 at the encouragement of Waltrip, and the duo quickly rose to prominence, winning the series title in their first year together and becoming one of the most prolific driver-crew chief combinations of the 1980s. They scored 43 wins together, added the 1985 championship, and finished runner-up in the 1983 and 1986 title chases. In 1987, Hammond joined Waltrip midseason at Hendrick Motorsports and were winners once again in September at Martinsville. Eight more wins followed, a run that included the 1989 Daytona 500.

Parrott, another Charlotte native, embarked on a remarkable seven-year run with Jarrett in 1996 that featured 26 wins and culminated with the 1999 Cup Series championship while at Robert Yates Racing. This combination finished in the top-three in the title chase for four consecutive seasons from 1996 through 1999 and added a fourth-place finish in 2000 and another top-five in 2001. The duo was victorious one last time at the fall 2005 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. In his 14-year tenure at Yates, Parrott also worked with drivers Ernie Irvan, Elliott Sadler and David Gilliland, scoring a pair of wins with Sadler in 2004. Parrott began a three-season run at Richard Petty Motorsports in 2010, where he was reunited with Sadler before joining forces with Marcus Ambrose for a run that included back-to-back wins at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in 2011 and 2012.

The Camping World SRX Series features world-class drivers from an array of motorsports backgrounds competing in identically prepared racecars on some of the most iconic short tracks in America. Elliott, Tony Stewart, Paul Tracy, Bobby Labonte, Willy T. Ribbs, Ernie Francis Jr., Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Michael Waltrip are the fulltime drivers in the Camping World SRX Series. Local all-stars join the series regulars at the first five races, with six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby at Stafford, four-time Knoxville track champion Brian Brown at Knoxville, five-time USAC Silver Crown champion Kody Swanson at Eldora, prolific USAC and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winner Bobby Santos III at Lucas Oil Raceway, and the winner of the July 6 Slinger Nationals – one of the most prestigious short-track races in the country – competing in the Camping World SRX Series race at Slinger. A handful of racing “ringers” will join the Camping World SRX Series at select races, with NASCAR veteran Greg Biffle competing at Stafford and Slinger, five-time Rallycross champion and former Formula One driver Scott Speed racing at Eldora and Lucas Oil Raceway, and Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer Scott Bloomquist in his element at Knoxville.

Comments

  1. Seems some people are upset with Stafford charging $10 parking fee for the SRX event; surprised no talk here.

  2. Louis Jackson Jr. says

    $10 parking fee? This sounds like a blasphemous rumor… Is the $10 parking fee subject to the State of Connecticut’s 10% “Admissions Tax Payable When Admission Charge Collected”? I love how this tax was reduced or eliminated (Dunkin’ Donuts Park) for professional and college sports but not for race tracks. I also like how the race tracks skirt the law by not charging the tax on pit area admissions.

  3. Sharpie Fan says

    Wait until they find out about the $50 Camping Fee!

  4. OK I’m not going and will be watching for free Saturday night on CBS. And not being completely open about parking fees when selling tickets is a legitimate beef. That said if you do have tickets you are in a very elite minority. You don’t like the fees there should be no problem selling your tickets maybe even scalping them and making a small profit.
    Stafford most would agree has a terrific management team. If they’re milking this deal maybe consider it a little catch up for all they lost last year. The most important thing is to take pictures this could be a one and done since few network shows are picked up for a second season.

  5. Doug- I mostly agree with your take however I feel if this was Thompson we would have 2 pages of comments by now.

  6. What, are there poor people out there? 10 bucks is nothing. Try 65 bucks at pats games.

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