REFFNER ADAPTING TO A POST-ASA SHORT TRACK RACING WORLDby Mike Twist
Midwestern Star Hopes to Be Able to Find a New Home in ASL
The ASA National Tour had a slogan; “We Build Champions.” The ASA career of Bryan Reffner was a good example of that.
In 2005, he is on the outside looking in.
It’s widely known that financial troubles caused ASA to close shop over the off-season and the powerhouse short track series that once was is no more – at least for the time being. That has left one of the drivers who has defined the tour in the past decade without a racing home.
Bryan Reffner is looking ahead to see what is next in his racing career.
In 1994, Reffner fought a close battle for Rookie of the Year honors with Dave Sensiba. At the end of the season, Sensiba edged Reffner for that, but Reffner got the last laugh one year later when he won the ASA championship.
After that, Reffner went on to spend time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with success. He won a race, several poles and finished in the top ten of the point standings twice. He was also the series’ first ever Rookie of the Year.
Then, Reffner found himself back where it all started; back in ASA. He ran a limited schedule for Country Joe Racing in 2002 before competing with his own team. Last year, he finished third in points.
“We don’t have anything set for this year yet,” said Reffner not long ago from his Wisconsin shop.
For someone who aspired to be an ASA driver while coming up through the racing ranks, that is a tough pill to swallow.
“It’s a sad state of affairs, it really is,” said Reffner. “When I was growing up, ASA Racing was it. That meant a lot to me and I hated to see what happened.”
Recently, the American StockCar League (ASL) has
Reffner ran the colorful #80 in ASA.
announced plans to use the rules and specs of the ASA National Tour to put on a race series in 2005. Against all odds, the group led by Wisconsin businessman Gary Vercauteren have put together a race series in a short amount of time and will start their season on April 30th. This gives teams like Reffner’s an opportunity to race again. Reffner has registered for the series, but he isn’t 100-percent sure he’ll be able to make it to the party.
starts in late April, he will find a way to be there. Especially considering how pumped up he was after making a late season run at the ASA championship.
“Having our year end as good as it did makes us want to go racing again,” said Reffner. “We’ve got four cars and engines sitting in the shop, so I have a lot of interest in seeing this type of racing come back.”
Reffner chats with Speed51's Matt Dillner.
“Every part of me wants to be there for opening day,” said Reffner. “But it still has to make sense dollar wise for me to do it. “In a non-televised series, it’s tough to go out and get the sponsorship money to operate.
“Filling the void left by ASA is going to be a real struggle. It would be hard to find a national series to race in to run for what it cost to do ASA.”
But don’t get him wrong. Reffner is a big supporter of the ASL concept.
And the smart money is on the fact that when the season
“I love racing this type of car. I love the competition and the fan base. I want to run the series and I think that anyone that is trying to keep ASA alive is doing a good thing. If my involvement can help to bring it back, I’ll do what I can to help it.”
Over the off season, Reffner looked at various racing options and it was hard to find a perfect match for driver, series, team and sponsor.
“We took a serious look at Pro Cup racing,” said Reffner. “But it meant that we would have to spend a whole lot of money to go racing. We would need new equipment and
The Menards team needs to stay in the Midwest to promote their sponsor.
engines and I couldn’t come up with the funding to make it work. Starting all over with zero equipment would be tough.”
Their Northern Series is a great series, but it’s not a true Northern Series for us because we are located in Central Wisconsin. Our sponsor for last year, Menards, doesn’t have any stores where they race, so it’s not good for them.”
Reffner knows that he will be racing somewhere this year, but he just isn’t sure where that will be. But when it comes down to it, this is a driver who isn’t concerned with turning heads or making headlines. He just wants to race and come away from each track with the best results possible. Climbing the ladder of motorsports isn’t what is on his mind anymore.
“In racing terms these days, if you’ve had your 20th birthday than you are getting too old to move up,” said Reffner.