When the Superstar Racing Experience kicks off next summer, Ernie Francis Jr. will be racing against drivers old enough to be his father. On Monday, the series announced the seven-time Trans-Am Series champion as their ninth driver.
The 22-year-old Francis has enjoyed great success in Trans-Am, winning the TA1 title in 2017 to become the class’ youngest champion. His other championships with the sports car sanctioning body have included the 2014 and 2015 TA3A class, TA4 in 2016, the Chase for the Trigon Trophy in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, he won four races to clinch his seventh Trans-Am title.
Francis has also competed in the Pirelli World Challenge and Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). In 2019, he won the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Virginia International Raceway.
SRX will not be his first foray into stock car racing. In 2017, Francis ran what is to date his lone NASCAR Xfinity Series race, finishing thirty-ninth at Road America with MBM Motorsports after suffering an engine failure. A year later, he signed with Rev Racing for the two road course races in what is now the ARCA Menards Series East. He won the pole and finished second in his début at New Jersey Motorsports Park, followed by an eleventh-place finish at Watkins Glen.
“I am so excited for @erniefrancisjr to be part of @srxracingofficial,” SRX co-founder Ray Evernham commented on Instagram. “Watching this kid battle door to door with our Motorsports legends is gonna be a lot of fun. I’ve seen this kid drive and he is quick And you don’t win as many championships as he has without being aggressive”.
While the youngest of the field, Francis is not the only SRX driver with sports car experience. 65-year-old Wiley T. Ribbs is a seventeen-time race winner in Trans-Am, while much of the grid including co-founder Tony Stewart has experience in IMSA. Other confirmed drivers for the new spec racing series include Tony Kanaan, Paul Tracy, Bobby Labonte, Hélio Castroneves, Mark Webber, and Bill Elliott. While Ribbs and Elliott are the oldest of the nine at 65, Francis’ entry makes the 44-year-old Webber now the second-youngest driver.