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ASA

The American Speed Association (ASA) was a sanctioning body of motorsports in the United States from 1968 until its demise in 2004 due to financial problems. The Association was based in Pendleton, Indiana. ASA was most famous for a national touring series which began in 1973; but ASA also sanctioned a late model series, several regional touring series, and track member programs. The national touring series used late model racecars body styles. Races were held primarily in the Midwest. Many series races were televised on several cable channels (especially The Nashville Network) from 1991 until 2004. Most teams from the ASA series moved to the American Stockcar League (ASL) series in 2005. Teams in the lower division ASA Late Model Series (started in 2004) remained in the series, which was sold to its former owners (but kept its name). The Member Track Division started in 2001 was sold to Florida interests, and kept its name. Recently, the same organisation purchased the rights to the ASA National Tour.

Before its demise, ASA was notable as the only nationally touring stock car series that used passenger car technology for its racing engines. Unlike NASCAR, which still requires carbureted engines for all its nationally touring series, ASA required fuel injection in all of its engines during its final years. During the mid-1980's, 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.)

The association's demise was a byproduct of three byproducts:

MTV LawsuitEdit

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. TNN's Charlotte and Nashville 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 officies.

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 one at Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP), the "Night Before F1" ASA event. IRP is famous for hosting major races on the night before the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's three major races.

The ASA filed a lawsuit in Pendleton 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 just two years.

Brian Robbins, the son of the founder, 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]][[3]]

Sale of the sanctioning bodyEdit

The 2002 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 2002 season, and began massive changes for 2003 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 and financial troubles of the 2004 seasonEdit

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. (The "Approved Body Configuration" is sometimes traced to the demise of NASCAR's Elite Division, since it was not compliant to the new generation of late model stock car.)

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 race cars traditionally have used.

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. The track held ASA officials' vehicles and equipment, hoping to pay the teams. 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.

AftermathEdit

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

The two surviving ASA groups were split.

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 SpeedTruck Challenge Series, Professional Autosports Challenge, the ASA Intermountain Pro-4 Challenge Series, Southern Modified Race Tour and the ASA NW Sprint Car Series (NSRA).

In 2006, Racing Speed Associates also revived the ASA's Southern Modified Racing Team concept, and with NASCAR's announcement it was ending its AutoZone Elite division, the organisation partnered with former IRL driver Davey Hamilton to develop a new West Coast Late Model series to begin in 2007.

The ASA Late Model Series was sold back to Ron Varney, who started the US Pro Series, and continues under its ASA LM series moniker with its web site, asalatemodels.com. In the fall of 2005, Varney announced the purchase of the Southern All-Stars Asphalt Late Model Series to form the ASA Late Models South Series, plus the creation of the ASA Late Models North Series as regional touring series. The ASA Late Model Series would be renamed the ASA Late Model Challenge Series. Already, a 2005 regional ASALM champion will make his NASCAR Nextel Cup debut at Pocono Raceway in July 2006.

The American Stockcar League was run under the sanctioning of Mid-American Racing. Mid-American Racing also ran the Mid-American Stock Car Series, the Mid-American Super Truck Series, the Midwest Allstar Racing Series (MARS) Late Model Tour, and the Midwest Stock Car Classics League. The ASL only lasted one season and four races before its founder Gary Vercauteren passed away from a heart attack on October 6th, 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 to just its original series the Mid-American Stock Cars. That led to Racing Speed Associates' acquisition of the old ASA National Tour and its formula recently.

List of ASA Late Model Series National championsEdit

List of National Touring Series 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 Oct. 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

Drivers who have not won a championship or Rookie Award:

  • Matt Kenseth (2003 NASCAR Winston Cup champion; after the organisation purchased the USPro Series, Kenseth won the first-ever ASA Late Model Series race at Madison International Speedway)
  • Todd Kluever (2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Rookie of the Year)
  • Adam Petty (won the 1998 ASA race at I-70 Speedway, scored his first career pole for the 1998 ASA race at the Minnesota State Fair Speedway)
  • Jay Sauter
  • Darrell Waltrip (won the first ASA National Tour race in 1972; won the first live television broadcast of a National Tour race in 1991.)
  • Chris Wimmer
  • Scott Wimmer (surprising season in 2000 in the new formula led to a contract with Bill Davis Racing; made his NASCAR Cup debut in November 2000 when rain cancelled qualifying for the ARCA race; the car was reconfigured for NASCAR Cup racing, and he qualified for his first Cup event.)

Tracks that hosted ASA national events (2004 and earlier)Edit

Tracks that host Late Model sanctioned events (2005-)Edit

External linksEdit

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