Toledo Rainout Provides a Closer Peak into ASA Late Model Series By Jim Blacroch
Down Time Gives an Opportunity to See What the Series is All About
Under the cold blanket of a steel covered sky that dripped down and ground racing to a halt for the Glassbreaker 125 weekend for the ASA Late Model Series, North Division at Toledo Speedway in Ohio, there were some positives to be witnessed.
On Friday teams were able to partake in a practice session for the three divisions on hand (ASA North Late Models, USPRO Cup Series Late Models and the USA Modifieds) that lasted nearly five and a half hours.
What happened on Saturday would test the mettle of anyone who has a passion for the racing business. Cold temperatures and a nasty mix of rain and precipitation coupled with strong winds blew across the area. Finally after four or five attempts at drying the track, with one brief practice session included, the event came to a close. It was a decision that was belabored by Ron Varney, the president and co-founder of the ASA Late Model Series.
Varney brought teams into the inspection barn at Toledo and approached them with an open book, asking them if they wanted to wait it out, or continue to labor through an effort that would not provide reward for anyone.
“Look guys, I'll bleed for you,” offered Varney during the impromptu meeting with teams as he referred to the event, the weather and the lack of fans providing income to make the event a success. “What do you think we should do? None of the options are very good, but I'm giving you the opportunity to speak up.”
It was a refreshing attitude in a world full of the demands and decisions based solely on the bottom-line for one party and not the other, or a decision that directly brings conflicts to all.
The room quickly filled with chatter and a high percentage decided it wasn't in anyone's best interest to remain there for the rest of the day, which it continued to precipitate or to try the next day, because the thermometer wasn't going to rise past the freezing mark.
“Well, there is so much invested in these events,” candidly spoke Varney following the event. “Those teams are my partners and I'm going to stand behind them, because Sandy (Ron's wife) and I know that without them, we wouldn't have this series. But, then we have to be there as a series, balancing it all becomes the monumental challenge, but we approach it from the standpoint that it is a give and take situation with all of our partners.”
Varney, who is a very passionate individual, loves racing. He was a racer, but once involvement dollars sky-rocketed, he opted to work in racing, ultimately ending up as co-founder and promoter of the ASA Late Model Series, which encompasses a North & South Division and the USPRO Cup Late Model Series, along with the featured Challenge Series, that competes on radials and at some of the bigger speedways around the US, providing a positive training ground for some of the up and coming stars in NASCAR's national series.
There has been strong competitor support for the ASA Late Model Series.
Eddie Hoffman's #8 car - owned by Tom Kmak
After talking with most folks, the ASA Late Model Series provides it and the proof seems to be in the pudding. A top of the line inspection process keeps competitors in line, while the crate motor programs keeps teams from spiraling out of control on their spending in those aspects.
“It is a good program,” stated Tom Kmak, owner of the Lisa Thomas Salons machines that Eddie Hoffman drives. “Back in the days with the NASCAR Midwest Tour I spent four times the amount of money on the engine program. I do like the bias-ply program better then the radial program, but those are the rules of the series and I understand the development aspect for the young drivers.”
With that said, Kmak is a big fan of the ASA LMS North Division.
“I like the North Division,” explained Kmak. “It's good competitive racing at some great tracks. It's nothing against the Challenge Series or the South Division, it's just what I think.”
Just this past weekend in Phoenix, several ASA LMS alumni took part in the NASCAR Nationwide Series events. Past Challenge Series champions, Stephen Leicht and Kelly Bires, as well as Landon Cassill and a few others were scattered throughout the field. Leicht finished seventh in a Richard Childress Racing entry. Michael Annett, who participated in the Challenge Series in 2007, won the ARCA race at Daytona this year and an ARCA race at Talladega last year.
“We take great pride in the success of those young men,” smiled Varney. “Part of our goal is to provide a training ground for those competitors to learn and grow, but we also have to have an affordable program where the above average weekend racer that wants to tour can come and race as well. Guys like Eddie Hoffman, Bobby Wilberg, Jack Smith, those guys need a place to race as well and we'd like to think that we can provide it.”
No matter what portion of the program you are or aren't a fan, one thing you can't argue with is that the program has set the industry standard when it comes to Crate Engines. Other than Tom Curley's ACT program which primarily races in Northern New England and parts of Canada, the ASALMS, is the leader in the crate industry, providing specifications for engine programs across the board.
The ASALMS receives support from GM Performance Parts, which is the creation house for the GM Crate Engine program, but the series also has rules and guidelines for both Dodge and Ford Motors.
With 35 cars in the pits on a dismal day at Toledo for the ASA Late Model Series, North Division opener, something must be going right. Unfortunately, the weather chose not to cooperate this time, but the ASA Late Model Series is alive and well. With a pretty good mix involved in the series, some of the younger-set, some of the more experienced veterans, it would have been a good race. Watching the older-set compete
against the younger-set is quite amusing, especially if one of the older-set chooses to teach one of the younger driver's a lesson. We'll just have to wait until next time to see what kind of lessons we can learn. Hopefully, Mother Nature will be in a more cooperative mood.
On track action from the ASA Late Model Series.