Seven-time Trans-Am Series champion Ernie Francis, Jr. has impressed during the Camping World SRX Series, and hopes that success will open doors in his racing career.
The seven-time Trans-Am Series champion hopes those performances will help him open doors moving forward in his racing career. While the chassis of the SRX vehicles is largely inspired by the Trans-Am cars he competes in regularly, Francis admits adjusting to other aspects of the car has created a learning curve.
“The car is pretty similar. The FURY road-racing chassis is that they have is basically a TA2 car underneath the bodywork,” Francis told Speed51. “The car does have some similarities to what I’m used to. The way the car drives is so different. I’m not used to driving on a 15-inch bias-ply tire like the Goodyears are. We run radial tires in Trans-Am, and it’s a much different tire, a lot wider. The Trans-Am cars I’m used to have a lot more grip than these SRX cars.”
The biggest challenge has been adjusting to the smaller, bias-ply tires and managing how the horsepower generated by the engines within the SRX cars is applied to the tires.
“The only other stock cars I’ve driven have been a Late Model during a test and then the K&N car, but I did that on a road course. I don’t have a ton to base it off of, stock-car wise, but they handle pretty decent. They have a ton of power, they’re probably overpowered for what we’re on for a tire. You can light up the tires anywhere on the track if you wanted to. You’ve got to be able to drive it, watch the throttle and keep the tires underneath you.”
After a solid season opener at Stafford Motor Speedway, Francis particularly impressed as the series hit the dirt at Knoxville Raceway, finishing second during the final heat race and third in the main event. The series is an opportunity unlike any he has received to date in his career, challenging some of the biggest names in motorsports.
Francis hopes success in that series will open doors for him in other racing avenues, whether it is in stock cars or open-wheel racing.
“I’m really open to doing anything in my career now. Coming up as a driver when I was younger, I didn’t really have any opportunities to do any sort of stock car racing or open-wheel racing. Road course racing and sports cars were my only path to take. Now, with the SRX deal I’ve been doing, I think it’s opened a lot of doors.
“I’m hoping I can do something with it and maybe get with a team and make my start in stock car racing, whether it’s in one of the NASCAR divisions. I’m really falling in love with it a lot more. Anything with four wheels, I’m happy racing. Open-wheel, this is the first year I’m doing that as well. I’m racing F3 in the FR Americas Series. I’m getting my feet wet in open-wheel as well as stock cars this year.”
The Camping World SRX Series returns to action on Saturday, June 26 at Eldora Speedway. Race fans will be able to watch the event live on CBS as well as on Paramount+.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Camping World SRX Series