American Speed Association

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Not to be confused with ASA Late Model Series.
American Speed Association
Sport Auto racing
Founded 1968
Country  United States
Most recent champion(s) Barry Beggarly

The American Speed Association (ASA) is a sanctioning body of motorsports in the United States formed in 1968. The Association was based in Pendleton, Indiana and currently is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Florida. Today, ASA sanctions a variety of asphalt and dirt tracks in their ASA Member Track program along with a variety of racing series in the United States and Canada.

ASA was most famous for a national touring series which began in 1973 but was discontinued in 2004 due to financial difficulties. In 2005, ASA became one of the top short track sanctioning bodies in the United States under the leadership of Dennis Huth.

The cars from the ASA National tour are also raced in England in what is now known as the Stock Car Speed Association (formally ASCAR).

ASA National Tour[edit]

The national touring series uses late model racecars body styles. Races are held primarily in the Midwest. Many series races were televised on several cable channels (especially The Nashville Network) from 1991 until 2004.

ASA is notable as the only nationally touring stock car series that used passenger car technology for its racing engines. Unlike NASCAR, which up until 2012 required carbureted engines for all its nationally touring series, ASA requires fuel injection in all of its engines. During the mid-1980s, it also became one of the first stock car groups to offer a six-cylinder, lower-price alternative to the popular V8 engines, designed for less power but more race-capable for drivers. Following the 2000 rule changes, it was also known for introducing crate motors to a national audience. (NASCAR adopted crate motors in 2006 for the Grand National Division.)

MTV Lawsuit[edit]

In 1991, Gaylord Entertainment (owners of The Nashville Network) and an independent production company, Group Five Sports, signed an agreement where the ASA would add live race broadcasts to their schedule.

The first such live ASA AC-Delco Challenge Series race was held in June 1991 at Nashville Speedway USA. The race featured visiting NASCAR star Darrell Waltrip (who won the ASA's first Challenge of Champions race in 1972) defeating ASA regular Bob Senneker in a furious finish. The exposure led eventually to national television coverage for the entire season by TNN and Group Five doing the production (even though TNN had owned another production company in 1994).

In 1999, CBS (which purchased TNN in 1997) officials announced the purchase of 25% of the American Speed Association from owner Rex Robbins in exchange for live television rights to the entire ASA ACDelco Series schedule for five years. CBS did this move after losing coverage of NASCAR races, and the network chose to market the ASA on its CBS Cable family of networks (TNN and CMT).

When Viacom took over TNN in 2000, CBS Cable operations were shut down as TNN's Charlotte (located at the Lowe's Motor Speedway Industrial Park) and Nashville (located near the present Opry Mills mall) offices were closed and the signals transferred to MTV Networks for the creation of a channel which would eventually be called Spike TV. At the time, MTV Networks honored its remaining motorsports contracts signed by CBS motorsports officials.

In August 2001, MTV ended its association with ASA and the World of Outlaws (which also had a TNN contract signed by CBS management) by announcing they would tape delay the popular sprint car Knoxville Nationals, and also tape delay the two remaining ASA ACDelco Series races — one on Labor Day weekend at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, and the "Night Before F1" ASA 200-lap race at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Lucas Oil Raceway is famous for hosting major races on the night before the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's major races.

The ASA filed a lawsuit in Madison County, Indiana court in an attempt to stop the tape delays, but dropped the lawsuit after MTV agreed to air just one of the two races in the lawsuit live. MTV terminated the five-year CBS contract after less than 20 months.

Brian Robbins, the son of the ASA founder Rex Robbins, blasted MTV, saying, "It appears new (MTV) management does not have the same vision for the partnership as we had with TNN (CBS Cable) at the time we made the agreement."[1][2]

Sale of the Sanctioning Body[edit]

The 2003 season had drastic changes because of the move of television coverage to the lower-rated Speed Channel. Robbins ended his involvement with ASA.

Car owner Steve Dale, along with a group of investors, purchased the ASA at the end of the 2003 season, and began massive changes for 2004 hoping for further expansion of the series.

The ASA then further expanded its Member Track program, hoping to deliver tracks to their side with a lower sanctioning fee than rival NASCAR's sanctioning fees. ASA did not have the high-dollar or high-exposure status NASCAR's Dodge Weekly Series offered.

Expansion of the ASA[edit]

Steve Dale and the ASA purchased a fairly new Midwest-based late model series called the US Pro Series. The series used "crate" engines and "template" bodies to help develop a new "Approved Body Configuration" template for race cars. The standardized bodies saved money for teams at every track which wasn't a NASCAR-sanctioned track. The US Pro Series was renamed to the ASA Late Model Series. When the new ASA Late Model series began, it debuted with Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart racing in the inaugural race under the new name and ownership.

The ASA also purchased the Southern Modified Auto Racing Teams (SMART) organization in hopes to help sanction the series. SMART featured race cars similar to the Northeast-based NASCAR Modifieds.

The ASA also purchased the Speed Truck Challenge, a West Coast-based short-track series using fiberglass bodies designed to resemble compact pickup trucks.

Car livery began to take a new look in 2004, with the cars having numbers on the rear fenders and sponsors on the door, which is opposite of what most stock cars traditionally have used.

Financial Troubles of the 2004 Season[edit]

Financial problems developed midway in the 2004 season when the ASA began to cancel races, and television contracts were canceled.

By the end of the season, the series' demise came when the series raced at Lowe's Motor Speedway. During the driver's meeting for the 99-lap Aaron's 99 event (held after NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying for the UAW-GM Quality 500), they informed competitors they did not have funds to pay teams after the race, and they asked for an extension. This despite the fact that Lowe's Motor Speedway had wired the entire purse and sanction fee to ASA as per the sanction agreement. Disappointed by Steve Dale's decision to cancel his trip to the event, the track impounded ASA's vehicles and equipment. A settlement was made where Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (owners of Atlanta Motor Speedway and Lowe's Motor Speedway) decided to pay the competitors directly after the final ASA race at Atlanta.

The sanctioning body collapsed and was shut down after the 2004 season, and the National Tour folded.

Aftermath[edit]

The Member Track program and ASARACING.COM site were sold to Racing Speed Associates, which continues to be run by former NASCAR official Dennis Huth, along with other ASA-sanctioned short track programs, the ASA Midwest Tour, ASA Midwest Truck Tour, ASA Truck Series, ASA Pro Truck Series, ASA ProAutoSports, ASA Advance Testing British Columbia Late Model Tour and the ASA NW Sprint Car Series (NSRA).

NASCAR took advantage of the demise of the organization and started a Modified series in the Southeast Whelen Southern Modified Tour. The series features identical rules to NASCAR's northern brethren.

The American Stockcar League (which used the ASA-formula cars) was run under the sanctioning of Mid-American Racing in an effort to keep the National Tour active. The ASL ran only four races before its founder Gary Vercauteren died from a heart attack on October 6, 2005. Technical director and former racer Doug Strasburg took over Mid-American Racing, but conducted a major house cleaning early in 2006 and parred down Mid-American Racing ending the ASL after only one season.

Dennis Huth's Expansion[edit]

In 2006, with NASCAR taking over the SMART modified tour, Racing Speed Associates started the ASA Southern Modified Racing Team concept to once again bring modifieds to the ASA.

Also, NASCAR announced it was ending its AutoZone Elite divisions, which featured regional late model racing, following the 2006 season. Soon after, the ASA began sanctioning replacement series around the United States. The ASA Midwest Tour and ASA Northwest Tour were launched for 2007 and the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour for 2008.

In 2008, ASA began sanctioning the ISCARS sport compact series, which had been independent since breaking from NASCAR at the end of the 2003 season. Also, the ASA Member Track program added a national short-track points championship similar to NASCAR's Whelen All-American Series concept, with the winner receiving a test with Joe Gibbs Racing, which sponsors the program through its Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil brand. The national champion earns a test in a Gibbs Toyota Camry.

Related Split / Naming Dispute[edit]

The related split of the assets of the former American Speed Association led to a naming dispute when the Late Model Series was reacquired by Ron Varney, while the other portions of the American Speed Association were sold to Huth.[3]

On December 4, 2007, Dennis Huth filed a lawsuit against the ASA Late Model Series seeking to invalidate and cancel the ASA Late Model Series trademark registration. The ASA Late Model Series responded that the lawsuit is frivolous and without merit and plan counter sue Mr. Huth for damages caused by suit. [4]

On January 14, 2009, the naming dispute was settled. In the end, both parties were allowed to keep the "ASA" name, but the ASA Late Model Series was forced to come up with a new logo, and both parties agreed to inform the racing public that the ASA Late Model Series is not related to, affiliated with, nor sponsored or endorsed by American Speed Association or ASA Racing. [5]

On October 11, 2010 it was announced publicly that in an Order signed on October 7, 2010 by US District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly, has permanently barred Louis R. (Ron) Varney, Jr, ASA Late Model Series, LLC and all those acting in concert or participation with them, including specifically ASALMS, LLC from any further use of the ASA or ASA LATE MODEL SERIES brand on or in connection with automobile race events anywhere in the United States. The injunction was delivered at the 2010 Oktoberfest Race Weekend at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway.

ASA Free State 500[edit]

On January 31, 2010, ASA Racing made history as the first American sanctioning body to race in the Republic of South Africa. The ASA Free State 500 took place at the Phakisa Freeway Circuit located in Welkom, Free State, South Africa. John Mickel from the United Kingdom passed Toni McCray from California on the last lap to with the 207-lap (500km) event. Marc Davis was third with Rick McCray in fourth. South Africa's Johann Spies rounded out the top-five. Spies drove with an electronic fuel-injected engine in the event.

List of ASA National Champions[edit]

Pat Schauer Memorial Rookies of the Year[edit]

Brief history of the award

Schauer, who resided in Watertown, WI, was killed in a stock car racing accident on October 4, 1981 at the Winchester Speedway during an American Speed Association race. Schauer was the rookie point leader at the time. He has since been honored annually at the rookie of the year award presented at the year-ending banquet in his name. The American Stockcar League (ASL) took over the Award in 2005.


Other Notable Alumni Drivers[edit]

Current ASA Member Tracks[edit]

Tracks that hosted ASA national events (2004 and earlier)[edit]

References[edit]

Queen City Speedway, Cincinnati Ohio now debunk.

  1. ^ Callahan, Terry (August 27, 2001). "ASA, TNN Reaches Agreement on 2001 Telecasts". The Auto Channel. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  2. ^ Callahan, Terry (August 23, 2001). "ASA Seeks to Prevent TNN From Tape Delaying Broadcasts". The Auto Channel. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  3. ^ ASA completes purchase of National Tour properties
  4. ^ ASA name dispute
  5. ^ Dispute Over ASA Trademark Amicably Resolved

External links[edit]