ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour Joins The Mix Of Late Model Series
Familuar Names In MIcky Cain & Stan Narrison Will Help Out Series
Citing a need to return Late Models back to their grassroots marketing foundation, the new American Speed Association Southeast Asphalt Tour plans to bring a “circus” when they hit the towns in 2008.
Well, maybe not a circus in the traditional sense, but according to series owner/founder John Kee, at least a “Barnum & Bailey atmosphere. When the circus comes to town everybody knows about it, is excited about it and looks forward to the chance to come out and see the race. I think that this is something that is missed with a lot of the Late Model series and the Late Model tracks. Many times the people don’t even know there is a race right in their own backyard.”
The ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour has energetic plans on a 15-race schedule next year, with intentions to televise nine of those races on a cable channel which reaches most of the country. Though the exact times have not been finalized yet, Kee is negotiating a mid-week airing during a time where there is little to no other competing motorsports programming. He also mentioned that there would likely be multiple airings of these tape-delayed broadcasts.
Depending on the size of the racetrack, the starting field would vary between 24 and 36 cars for a 100-lap feature. If there are enough cars which do not qualify through the time-trials, Kee said that there would be a “Last Chance Race” to fill the final positions on the starting grid. Although the payment structure has not been released, each starting car would be guaranteed a minimum of $600.
Guys like Bubba Pollard will have a choice where to race their Pro Late Models with the start of the ASA Southeast Apshalt Tour
The ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour intends to make sure that the rules for the teams are consistent for everyone, whether they race the entire schedule or just a handful of events through the year.
“You know, there needs to be some consistency in the rules and the racing and I think that is something that has gotten out of hand,” Kee said. “You go to different areas of the country and (the rules) are all over the map as far as what type of engine you can run, the car setups, and even enforcement of the rules.”
“We are going to have a consistent set of rules and enforcing them and run a good, fair competition so that when someone comes to race with us. We intend to keep the cars equal so everyone has a fair chance on the racetrack. The intent is to stage professional racing and have fun along with it” The rules, and much other information on the series, will soon be posted online at www.ASASoutheastAsphaltTour.com which is live, but currently under construction or for info you can call 706-354-8278.
Perhaps the most unique thing about the new American Speed Association Southeast Asphalt Tour is the throwback marketing elements that Kee is planning.
“I know that the Cup series has a lot of marketing elements which are great for the bigger companies, but I sort of look at that like the 35,000-foot level. I want to have a program that is affordable for the smaller, regional companies or the franchise businesses to get some benefit from these markets that we are going to and to drive sales. There is a whole tier of people out there that are being missed,” Kee said.
Some of the elements that Kee mentioned were a “ride along” program where the businesses would have access to the racetrack and drivers at all of the races to get a “hands on” racing experience. The ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour will also require that the teams make a car and driver appearance in market which is tied into the point system. There is no charge to the sponsor for these appearances, but the benefit is obvious by having a car and driver available to bring traffic into the business.
The ASA Midwest Tour has created a huge buzz in Wisconsin and surrounding areas. Can the new ASA Southeast Tour do the same?
The racetracks will have an interactive display with tent space available for the sponsors to show their products and give the fans something else to enjoy while at an ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour event. A portion of the revenue will go to the host track resulting in a gain for everyone.
To help get the word of the races out in the market, Kee has setup a guaranteed media program to help promote the races. Basically, the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour will double the track media advertising budget; as an example, if the racetrack spends $3,000 to promote the event, Kee said that he intends to spend an additional $6,000. This is capped at $10,000 which would result in tremendous exposure in a market to help interest people in their event.
Additionally, there is an advance promotion team which is visiting each of the 15 race markets and meeting with the Chamber of Commerce, economic development groups, and the local television, radio and newspapers. This team will then make a second trip to the area a few days ahead of the race to continue the promotion of the race and the sponsoring companies.
Kee is proud of the role that the American Speed Association has played over the decades in motorsports, and looks to continue that with the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour.
“Dennis Huth from ASA has been a tremendous asset to us in the formation of this Series,” said Kee. “ He has had years of oversight on numerous series and also involved in many start-up series, which has saved us valuable time and resources in the formation of the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour.”
“What I want to do is get back to the heritage that the American Speed Association has,” he said. “I want the racers to know that, and I want the fans to know that. I want them to know that (the drivers) are racing a series that Mark Martin raced at; that Rusty Wallace, Alan Kulwicki, and so many other (NASCAR) Cup champions have all raced at. We want the drivers to be proud of this and to meet those standards and think about these type of legends when they are out there racing.”
The ASA Late Model Series also runs around the Southeast.
Over the years, the American Speed Association has provided many of the finest drivers in stock car racing the avenue needed to learn and hone their skills. Among the ASA graduates are such noted names as Rusty Wallace (1983 ASA champion), Mark Martin (four-time champion in 1978, ’79, ‘80, ’86), Jimmie Johnson (1998 Rookie of the Year), Matt Kenseth, Reed Sorenson, Kyle Busch, and Dick Trickle. Each of these drivers, and hundreds of others, took to the bullrings to learn what it takes to be a professional race car driver and how to handle the rigors of a national touring series including car handling skills, media relations, and of course fan interaction.
“This new ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour is certainly one of the most exciting new Late Model tours to come along in some time and I am really excited to be part of their program,” said Dennis Huth, president of Racing Speed Associates which owns the American Speed Association. “John has setup so many positive elements and I have no doubt that the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour will be embraced by the communities they go to, the companies that become involved in the program, and the fans that are able to experience ASA short track racing in a very unique way. This will quickly become one of the most popular Late Model series in the country.”
The ASA Member Track program is comprised of 27 short tracks around the United States, as well as a variety of regional and national touring series. For more information, call (386) 258-2221 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For news and information from all the racetracks and tours involved in the ASA, visit www.ASA-Racing.com.