ASA Southeast Déjà Vu?  Watermelon Capital Cancellation Seems Very Familiar to Orange County Speedway Officials
OCS Cancellation Raises More Questions on Health and Actions of the Series
By Jason Buckley
One day after the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour cancelled their “Melon 100” event scheduled for Saturday, August 29th at Watermelon Capital Speedway (GA) due to what the series stated was a pull-out of two local sponsors for the event, neither of which have been promoted or publicized on the ASA SAT website or releases prior to the event (click here for the story on Speed51.com), the fallout continues from the series as track representatives become more weary on the dealings of the series and their actions surrounding their race schedule and event cancellations.

On Tuesday, August 25th, ASA SAT announced the cancellation of the Georgia race via a press release to the public and notice on their website, but the Watermelon Capital Speedway track owner Marvin Ragan was first notified of the cancellation by a phone call by Speed51.com, 30 minutes after the series pushed out their public cancellation. 

For Kim Foushee, Director of Operations for Orange County Speedway (NC), this is eerily familiar as she was notified by fans of the cancellation of the ASA SAT show at her track that was scheduled for Saturday, August 22nd, rather than getting a notice from the series themselves.

On July 11th, the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour, along with the ISCARS Dash Series and the Rolling Thunder Modifieds, were scheduled to race at the Rougemont, North Carolina, track.  Practice and even qualifying for the ASA SAT drivers did occur, but shortly after the last car took to the track for time trials, the rains fell.  The track crew did attempt to get the track ready to race, but more rains were on their way to the track, forcing the postponement of the race.  As the rains fell, fans stood outside in line for rain checks for the event, which was scheduled for Saturday, August 22nd, with all three series coming back to race.

On August 14th, just over a week from the rescheduled date, ASA SAT officials released their cancellation of the make-up date, something Foushee at OCS was not party to before the announcement was made public.

“I never formally got anything from John (John Kee, who listed as the Marketing contact on the ASA SAT website),” said Foushee.  “What I got was from the fans and the staff members [who were] sending me stuff from their (ASA SAT) website and other places. 

“I was carboned [copied] on an email that was sent out on Thursday, the 13th,” continued Foushee.  “I saw it on Friday, the 14th.  It wasn’t even directed at me.  It was directed at Randy Claypoole from ISCARS.  I never got any formal notification from John until later - I want to say it was Monday, and that was after I sent both him and Randy an email.  John had already publically announced it.  I sent him an email on the 19th saying ‘direct communication with OCS is in order.  What are you going to do about your fans?  Your press release did not address them.’  That was sent to him on Wednesday.”

According to ASA SAT’s press release regarding the event, it was cancelled due to the Bristol NASCAR night race the same day as well as the cost for the teams travelling to OCS.

“Coupled with the long haul that Orange County Speedway is for a majority of our competitors and going up against the Bristol night event for the Sprint Cup Series, we felt it was better for everyone to cancel the event,” said ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour Operations Manager Micky Cain in the press release.  “We also didn’t want to put such a strain on our drivers by having the final two races of the regular season on back-to-back weekends several hundred miles apart.  We are trying to watch out for our teams in these tough economic times.  We want to make sure everyone is ready to go for the Championship Stretch.”

However, at the time that the race was rescheduled, all of these factors were figured in, making the reasoning more puzzling.

“We already had discussed Bristol then on that day,” said Foushee.  “That is why we discussed running the event earlier in the day so all the fans could go home and watch it (Bristol) on television.  Nothing came up about his teams.”

Randy Claypoole, President and CEO of the ISCARS Dash Series, also said it was discussed at the track at the time the new race date was made.

“We did know about that going in,” said Claypoole.  “That was part of picking that date.  In August and September it is hard to pick dates.  When you get rainouts, it is hard to find a date that you are not running up against a NASCAR night race.  One of the toughest nights to run up against is the Bristol race.  Our guys have practiced, so we were going to come in and race in the afternoon and get out of there so the fans have plenty of time to get home to watch the Bristol race.  That was the plan and talked about in the office, and that was what we agreed upon.”

Just like Foushee, Claypoole, who was co-promoting the event with his ISCARS Dash Series, didn’t find out directly from the series that the cancellation was taking place.

“When you are working together, technically you try to make an announcement together,” said Claypoole.  “I know that they tried to reach me, but I was on vacation.  In a period of 24 hours past (the time he was attempted to be reached), the announcement was made, prior to my knowledge of it.”

According to Foushee, setting up this event with ASA SAT’s John Kee has been a struggle from the first day, but everything has been smooth with Claypoole and the ISCARS Dash sanctioning body, including what his series is going to do for the fans to make up for this turn of events, by having the make-up event for his series on October 31st, when they will try to incorporate a Halloween theme into the show for the fans of all ages.

“Randy Claypoole is a good guy,” said Foushee.  “This other guy (Kee) has been difficult to deal with the entire time setting up the event.  I hate it for the fans that it culminated into this, but Randy is going to make it right. 

“Randy is going to make up for all the mistakes that John has done.  We are trying to get the promos done (for the make-up race).  Randy has been an upfront guy from the beginning.  He was concerned about the fans and wanted to do right by the fans and he wanted to do right by the race track as we have always had a good working relationship.  He likes the track and they want to keep coming back.  He has been fantastic about wanting to make this whole thing right knowing that he is going to have to do this by himself.  The track is going to work with him on that because he is trying to be a stand-up guy.”

While the Rolling Thunder Modifieds cannot be a part of the new make-up date due to an already scheduled event for their series elsewhere that day, the track and Claypoole are discussing various different races and events to occur on that day with the Dash cars, including possibly Legends Cars and even a hay ride for the kids.

“I knew right away that we collected some money from the fans, and I knew we had to honor those rain checks,” explained Claypoole.  “I had to think about that ticket money that we had half of.  We didn’t have the other half.  So, we decided to reschedule our date.  We have plenty of time to kick around some suggestions.  I thought it would be cool to maybe have a hay ride to get the kids closer to the track - anything that would be safe and exciting for the fans.

“I enjoy Orange County Speedway, and Kim has been great to work with through all of this.”

While Claypoole did tell Speed51.com that he wants the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour to succeed and hopes that they might be able to work together again in the future, he still isn’t aware of what really happened with the cancellation, considering the whole event was cancelled without his input as a co-promoter.

“We all know things happen,” said Claypoole.  “It has just been my way of approaching life to find out what happens in a situation or a cancellation, because that is a big deal.  I can honestly say that I don’t necessarily know those things yet. 

“We (ISCARS Dash Series) are doing our best in a tough economy to make it through.  I know sponsorships are extremely tough to get.”

Even though Claypoole hasn’t written off working with Kee and the ASA SAT group, Foushee has indicated that if the series and track do not get on the same page, ASA SAT might not be welcome back at OCS.  According to Foushee, the series owes the track money, and getting everything squared up has been a chore.

“John sent me an email that ticked me off,” explained Foushee.  “He made [it] out like I was threatening him, and I never threatened him.  I am just not real high on this guy, this John Kee.

“They will have to rectify this situation with me very quickly in order for me to consider having them visit us again.  The working relationship has been strained from the beginning, so this situation would have to be rectified quite quickly for me to keep an open mind about us doing something together in the future.”

Since the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour issued a press release cancelling the Watermelon Capital event at the close of business of Tuesday, Speed51.com has been attempting to get in touch with series officials.  As of press time midday on Wednesday, Micky Cain from the ASA SAT group had yet to return Speed51.com’s phone calls in regards to this situation.  Speed51.com will continue to stay on top of the situation involving ASA SAT, so stay tuned for more developments.

When the rains changed the OCS ASA SAT / ISCARS Dash event date, the whole event went into a tailspin of whether it would happen or not.  (51 Sports Photo)
John Kee (top) and Micky Cain (bottom) run the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour.  (51 Sports Photos)
The sign at the front of Orange County Speedway addresses the fans and thanks them for being a big part of the track's success, however, when ASA SAT cancelled their event, they didn;t address the fans in their release.  (51 Sports Photo)
Will the ASA SAT cars ever be allowed back at OCS?  (51 Sports Photo)
Orange County Speedway (NC) was another track that had to deal with a late cancellation from ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour this season.  (51 Sports Photo)