When the ASA Late Model Series made plans to head to Memphis Motorsports Park in 2008, it was intended to create an event that would close out the racing season in style. The result was the King's Ransom 300, which will bring the best ASA Late Model North, South and Challenge Series teams together for one big event this Saturday at the Memphis track for the second time.
“The idea was to make this one of the big year end events , like the All American 400, Snowball Derby, and World Crown. It is also the most laps we run all year (300),” said ASA Late Model Series owner and promoter Ron Varney.
But this year's race won't put a period on the 2009 ASA Late Model season. It will also be the final race planned for the Memphis Motorsports Park. Track owners Dover International Speedway, Inc. announced last week that after the King's Ransom 300 is held, the track will close for good and its NASCAR Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series events will shift to tracks near St. Louis and Nashville.
“Ever since the announcement that this would be the last race at Memphis, we have been flooded with calls from the Memphis fans wanting to attend the event,” said Varney. “The weather looks perfect, and who knows maybe we'll have a few thousand fans show up to send Memphis out in style. I think it will be great show, last years race was good, even though Carlson dominated, there was great racing throughout the field.”
The fact that this is Memphis' swan song is not lost on the drivers entered in the race.
“Once it is shut down, you'll be remembered as the final person to win there,” said Josh Hamner.
“We are glad we are able to get go down there to run the race,' said Brian Campbell. “We didn't get the opportunity to race there last year so we are looking forward to it. Plus it might be the last race ever at the track so we want to say we have raced there if things don't work out with the track.
“It definitely adds something to the race weekend now that it's the last,” said Eddie Hoffman, Jr. “You have you to remember that you never say never when it comes to closing racetracks, unless they bulldoze it. ASA was hoping to make this and annual thing, but where not changing the way we go about this. We are still going with two cars and two different setups in hope that we can win us a race.”
To win that race though, everyone will have to beat the guy who dominated the show - Steve Carlson.
“Someone has to do something to stop Steve Carlson,” said Hoffman. “He's got one car that he really likes and our bad luck is that it's and ASA car. Every now and then someone hits on that magic car and setup and he's had a great season. He's always strong with that car and he's been the guy to beat this season. We ran with him at LaCrosse so maybe we are making some gains on him.”
The three-quarter mile Memphis track is a place that drivers look forward to going - whether they've raced there or not before.
“Memphis is one of the best tracks to race on,” said Hoffman. “It's big but it still drives like a short track. I think everyone know that if you can get the car to cut off turn 4 and run down the straightaway you can be really good there.”
“It's always fun to get to race at new venues, we ran at Lanier this year and we got to race a Rockingham so this will be another one for the list,” said Campbell. “ASA dose a great job in getting us to new tracks every year and I am looking forward to this weekend.
Another added bonus for the King's Ransom 300 is that it will be televised on Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports Florida, and American One Television Network during the off-season.
“All of the North and all of the South teams will be there and everyone is going to put a lot of effort into this race,” said Hamner. “It's also cool that the race will be on TV. Come wintertime, if you know that you were the winner, you'll make sure that the remote is handy and you can relive that day.”
All of that makes for a good show.
“ASA has really done some good work with this show,” said Hoffman. “This year it's a points race and they are paying good, plus any time a guitar is up for grabs it will draw a lot of different drivers to the event.”
And while the Memphis Motorsports Park may die, ASA Late Model Series officials are planning to have the King's Ransom 300 live on in the future.
“I sure hope so,” said Varney. “I had thought we found a home a Memphis, this really caught us off guard. We are looking at a few different tracks, I would like to move it to Richmond or Martinsville but I haven't had much success convincing either track, with North Wilkesboro re-opening maybe that's an option.