FORMER ASA COMPETITORS CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT ASLby Mike Twist
Everyone Seems to Think New Series is a Good Idea, But Will They Support It?
When the ASA National Tour folded, at least for the time being, after its season finale in Atlanta last season it created some very expensive paperweights overnight. The cars of the series were specific to ASA and could not be raced on any other oval track tour.
Hooters Pro Cup Series. Garvey also makes occasional starts in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series when his Pro Cup schedule allows.
Tim Sauter joined up with the Mac Hill Motorsports team for a limited NASCAR Busch Series schedule.
Stephen Leicht, Peter Cozzolino, Ed Brown and Kris Stump will run full seasons in the ASA Late Models.
Other teams found new opportunities with the formation of the American StockCar League. The new divisions will feature a schedule of at least 10 events, starting April 30th at I-70 Speedway (MO), using the same basic rules of the ASA National Tour. Some of the refugees will join up with the new tour, some will sit out and others are somewhere in between as the season opener gets closer.
Reed Sorenson (L) and Mike Garvey (R) didn't need to worry about where they were racing in 2005. Both had plans outside the Midwest.
That left the drivers from the tour feeling much like they graduated from high school. Old friends and bitter rivals all were set to go their separate ways. A few drivers already had graduations plans in place. Reed Sorenson would have been moving up to the NASCAR Busch Series this year with or without ASA. Joey Miller had similar plans to tackle the ARCA RE/MAX Series.
But the majority of ASA’s regulars found themselves on the outside looking in this winter. A few found new homes.
Mike Garvey and Toby Porter both decided to join former ASA standout Gary St. Amant in the ranks of the USAR
“I hope that it works out for everyone,” said Robbie Pyle, a veteran from ASA who is focusing on building up his sign business in 2005 and will not race quite as much as in seasons past. “There are a lot of people who have a lot of money invested into equipment and this will give them a place to run it.”
Already burned once by the former management of ASA, competitors are mostly taking a wait and see approach before going all out with an ASL program.
“As much as you might want to, you can’t jump in and do it
The ASA National Tour closed up shop (for now at least) after the Atlanta finale last fall.
100%,” said Stephen Leicht. “There are only ten races all season and it is going to take a year or two to really get it going and for the money and the press attention to be there.”
If things are successful, then the cars will follow.
“If they can get it back to what it was, we will definitely be there,” said Leicht. “Until then, we will do what we can to try and support it. Our plan is to run some of the races. We’ll run here and there during the year.”
But if a lot of equipment is torn up early in the season, owners will have to decide if it is worth spending money to repair their cars or if it’s a case of good money chasing bad. Hopefully, the series will take off before that becomes an issue, but a wild race at I-70 could cause some major problems.
It also gives those who are not going to race in ASL, but have ASA cars in their shops, a market for selling their stuff that was almost nonexistent this winter. That is if they choose to liquidate.
“I really haven’t put any of the cars up for sale,” said Travis Kittleson. “If someone came along and made the right offer, anything is for sale but I’ve heard that ASA might be coming back next year so who knows? My focus right now is to just go out and put together a schedule of Super Late Model, Big 10 and Florida Sunbelt races and go out to get some consistent finishes.”
One problem with the ASL schedule is that it is centered in the Midwest, so with the lack of television coverage or huge purses, teams from outside the area might not find it attractive to race there.
If ASL cars get torn up early in the season, how much will competitors spend to fix them?
“It sounds like a good deal,” said Casey Smith. “It’s a great way to help the guys in that part of the country [the Midwest], but it would be tough for someone like me down here in Texas to do it.”
“Right now, the ASL events are all Midwest races and it would be hard to drive that far for 150 laps,” said Kittleson, who has his shop in North Carolina. “Right now, I don’t find it any more prestigious than running a Big 10 race.”
But some teams are willing to do some traveling to give the ASL a chance.
“It is kind of tough for us, but we’re going to try it,” said Florida’s Jay Middleton. “It’s about a 10-12 hour ride to
“I hope that everyone doesn’t wreck their cars in that first race,” said Pyle. “If you do, it make it a tough business call as to whether to invest more money into repairing the car or building more equipment rather than just using up what you already have.”
The abundance of ASA cars and engines out there creates a large pool of equipment to start off the season.
“There are so many of those cars out there that didn’t have a home,” said Cywinski. “I believe that their car count be will above 30 cars a race. They should be able to put on some good shows.”
For Travis Kittleson, running the ASL doesn't make financial sense - at least at this time.
Odessa [Missouri – home of I-70 Speedway] from here. But the cool thing is that there aren’t going to be pit stops, so we won’t have to bring so many people. I think that they are going to have a pit stop halfway through with a competition yellow or something like that, but you won’t need a full crew for that. We’ll probably only need to bring three guys with us. It will basically be like running a Late Model show.”
Some racers plan to run as close to full schedules in ASL and the ASA Late Models as possible. There is one conflicting race between the two series, but competitors know that things like that can’t always be avoidable.
“It’s just one of those deals where they tried to keep both schedules for conflicting, but it’s really hard to accomplish anything if you become too worried about it. It kind of stinks because we wanted to go to Madison, but we are behind those guys and really hoping that they can get it back on their feet.”
The competitors really do appreciate the effort of the ASL, whether or not they plan to race there. They also know the job that the ASL has is not an easy one.
“It looks like they have a tall order head of them, it’s not easy to put things like this together,”” said Pyle.
The future for the ASL starts in less than two weeks and the short track world will definitely be watching.