It's time for 20 Questions with the ASA Late Model Series Founder/President; Ron Varney
Lexington, Michigan (01/01/2006): The ASA Late Model Series Presented by GM Performance Parts has continued to make several announcements concerning the 2006 season. Anticipation for the upcoming season is at a fever pitch and with that anticipation and excitement, there are bound to be questions!
Recently ASALMS Director of Media/Public Relations-P.A. Announcer, Matt Prieur, sat down with ASALMS Founder/President, Ron Varney to talk about the upcoming 2006 season. In the theme of 20 Questions, no punches were pulled and some light was shed on quite a few topics;
Q1. Explain the basic differences between the three traveling Divisions within the ASA Late Model Series? The Challenge, Northern, and Southern Divisions and what the teams have to do to be compatible to run two or all three divisions?
A1. We have structured all three series to be very similar so that teams can participate in more than one division without to much out of pocket cost. The Challenge Division will be our Premier Division attracting many highly competitive professional teams to the mix of already talented short track teams that participate. The Challenge Division will also run on a Hoosier Radial Tire and normally have 200 laps per event with a couple of exceptions. The Challenge Purse will pay more than that of the North and the South because of the increased laps, tire differences, geographic differences and TV exposure.
The Northern and the Southern Divisions will be mostly 100 lap events run on a Bias Ply (10-inch Slick) Tire to help keep costs at a minimum. The purse structure will mirror the 2005 season payouts. The regional divisions will host some of the most experienced teams in their regions and will also act as a stepping stone to teams that would like to develop their skills before they move into a higher level of competition. Many teams plan on running events in all three divisions and the ASA Late Model Series unified rules package allows that at a very minimal cost.
Q2. There are still some people out there who associate the ASALMS with the now defunct ASA National Tour, why do you think that still is today?
A2. The old ASA was so strong for so many years, it launched so many careers, that people don't want those three letters (ASA) to die. Well neither do we, but at the same time we realize that the days of the unique, one off car is gone. Many believe it was the car and motor combination that was the ultimate demise of the series!
The beauty of the ASA Late Model itself is our car is compatible to so many others that if you choose not to run with our series, you can change the motor and go run the same car somewhere else. The fact that people still associate us with the old ASA National Tour is due to the fact that the ASALMS was a part of that association for a brief period and when the National Tour went away, the focus shifted to the Late Models.
Q3. For the record; Is the ASALMS and the sanctioning body, "ASA Racing" affiliated in any way, shape, or form and why or why not?
A3. I wish I had a dollar for every time I answered this one, but what the hell one more time won't hurt. The ASA Late Model Series was formed when my series (USPRO) merged with the old ASA. Steve Dale and myself were the only two people who owned the renamed ASA Late Model Series. In November of 2004, I purchased Steve's portion of the business, which I now own 100%. So the answer is no, we have no affiliation with the American Speed Association or Steve Dale or anyone else.
Also to set the record straight, the ASA Late Model Series has never and will never be affiliated with the ASA Member Track Program or Dennis Huth.
The ASA Late Model Series has chosen its own path and direction and we see ourselves as a totally unique and innovative series with our own rules and our own creative development plan that focuses on reviving short-track racing throughout the country. What we do is promote short track racing with the crate motor, template body package with cost limitations on parts that appeal to everyone. We race at a number of venues throughout the country and encourage tracks to implement our rules package to make racing affordable for everyone.
Q4. Explain the tape delayed Television coverage for the ASALMS Challenge Division with the Outdoor Channel?
A4. Do we have enough time, this could take awhile (laughs...) No seriously, we purchased 12 one hour time slots on The Outdoor Channel. All of the televised events will air beginning in third and fourth quarter of 2006. We are still working on the exactly day and time, but it will be no worse than Saturdays at 10:00 pm Central Standard Time.
Q5. With 13 events scheduled in the ASALMS Challenge Division, with one non-points event, 10 events are to be televised, plus the non-points event is also televised; What facilities will not get the TV coverage and why?
A5. Originally it was 10 events that were going to be televised, We purchased two more shows to bring that number to 12. Yes there are 13 events scheduled, however San Antonio will not be televised as this was agreed upon in advance. Also the All American event at Nashville (Music City Motorplex) in November is on all of the schedules, North, South, and Challenge. We decided to televise that event to give the North and South teams some television exposure.
Q6. There has been talk of the ASALMS about conflicts of interest within the series. First with the now retired, Bob Varney and lately with the Automotive Promotions Inc., team. Has a potential conflict of interest with either of them or anyone for that matter ever been a factor within the ASALMS?
A6. This has been a question since the USPRO days, yes Bob is my brother and yes he did race in the series. Was he ever given preferential treatment? I think he'd beg to differ; his car was probably the most teched car in the series. And if the was even a close judgment on the track, the call always went against him.
As for Automotive Promotions Inc., (NOTE: A.P.I. driver, Brian Campbell won the 2005 Pat Bourdow Memorial Rookie of the Year Championship.) Bud Gebben who is a partner in the series owned A.P.I., for years. In late 2004, Bud supplied me with paperwork showing that he had sold his interest in Automotive Promotions Inc., to Bill McGowan. Bill has no affiliation with the series so there is no conflict of interest.
Q7. There are some pessimists out there who think of the ASALMS as Limited Late Model or Sportsman type cars and are not true Super Late Models in their eyes, how do you respond to that?
A7. To be honest with you, I don't respond to it. If someone is ignorant enough to call these cars anything other than Late Models, well then they are just plain misinformed and their allegations are due to ignorance, or just plain maliciousness towards our teams and series. I think those who have a solid knowledge of racing know the difference, and those are the teams and supporters we want to align ourselves with anyway.
Q8. How does the template body/crate engine package and the ASALMS concept overall even up the competition and take away the "out-dollaring the competition" aspect of it and how else is the competition evened up to where the only way a driver is going to beat someone on the race track is by their driving ability?
A8. Well the ABC bodies make it so everyone has the same Aero package and the engines dictate that everyone has the same horsepower, then we put price limitations on brakes, shocks and transmissions. It doesn't matter if you have one million dollars or one thousand dollars, everyone essentially has the same parts. It comes down to handling and driver ability, the way racing should be and NOT who can out spend who.
Q9. Sponsorship is definitely one of the most important aspects to any traveling series in the country. Explain the sponsorship package with GM Performance Parts as well as some of the major sponsors within the ASALMS?
A9. I guess there really is no question off limits (laughs...) GM has been involved with the series since the USPRO days. They are a major supporter of the series but they have no intention of monopolizing the series or trying to shut out Ford and Dodge. They are the presenting sponsor of the series and also implemented the GM Performance Parts Shootout and started a GM Performance Parts Winner's Circle program to award teams monetarily based on attendance in 2005.
We also have a solid relationship with the Choice Hotels chain, Hoosier Racing Tires, Crane Cams, and Torco Racing Fuel who all support the series and make all of this possible. The series also has over 40 companies that support the series on various levels.
Is the series healthy and stable, your damn right it is and we will make sure it stays that way. We are currently working with our sponsors to put together the 2006 contingency and points fund programs and will have this information out as we finalize these packages.
Q10. This is the fourth year of the series dating back to the USPRO Cup Series days in 2003, are you on track with your overall plans and foreseeable future of the ASALMS?
A10. Absolutely, in fact we are probably ahead of schedule. We are experiencing rapid growth. The hardest part of my job is trying to throttle back the growth without losing the momentum we have. The danger is growing too big to fast, but there is also a danger of not growing fast enough and losing out on opportunities. It's a fine line and as I stated a very difficult aspect of what I do.
Q11. Steve Einhaus is the Director of the ASALMS Northern Division, what will your role be in the Northern Division? Plus same question only regarding the Southern Division; Randy Rabinowitch is the Director of the ASALMS Southern Division, what will your role be in the Southern Division?
A11. Well any company is only as good as its people, I feel both Steve and Randy are going to do a great job. I am still very much hands on with regards to the day to day operations of all the divisions. I will also be attending as many of the races as I can, I plan to be the race director in the Challenge division and possibly the North and South to start with until I can find the right person to fill that position.
Q12. How are the purses and contingency awards for all three traveling divisions structured as far as who gets what and obviously what is the difference between the "How much to win and how much to start" between the three divisions?
A12. Now there's a question I can't answer, yet! We are working extremely hard to put together our 2006 purse structure, and we will announce it at the Owner's/Driver's meeting on January 14th. I will say this, the North and South will closely mirror the payouts in 2005, and the Challenge purse will more than likely come in around $6,000 to win and $700 to start plus contingency awards.
I have said it before and I will state it here again for the record; It is not our goal to be the highest paying sanctioning body in the country, I don't believe that is what we are about; we will however give you the most inexpensive, professional touring Late Model Series in the country, and give every driver that shows an equal shot at winning!
There aren't too many other series in the country that can say that, most of the time you only have a hand full of teams that will win. When you have lower budget teams like Mike Satkowiak, and Ryan Tedesco win races against teams like Wal-Tom and SS Racing that only proves my point.
Q13. With the ASALMS Northern and Southern Divisions, there are some conflicting dates between the two, how will that work for you?
A13. I am going to split my time between the North and South, so I should only miss one or two North and South races. As I stated early, I am going to make as many races as I can.
Q14. What will your role be in the ASALMS Challenge Division?
A14. I will be the Race and Series Director, and of course none of this would be possible with the help and support of my wife Sandy. She runs all of the administrative aspects of all three series. I really don't know what I do with out her, she is every bit as important as I am.
I have also promoted Jim Haun to the role of Director of Operations and he will be assuming some of my day to day operations. He will also work as the pit steward for all the Challenge Division events. So my time will be freed up to oversee the running of the three divisions.
Q15. The ASALMS Challenge Division is heading out as far away as the San Antonio Speedway in San Antonio, Texas on April 1, 2006 and to New York state twice with shows at the Oswego Speedway in Oswego, New York on June 10, 2006 and the Adirondack International Speedway in New Bremen, New York, on August 12, 2006. Adirondack is located in upstate New York and quite close to the Canadian province of Quebec! Why is the ASALMS traveling so far away from the original geographics of the ASALMS?
A15. If you are going to be a national series then you have to go where the market dictates. New York is a big media market for us and so is San Antonio. If we are going to step up our game as the premier Late Model Series in the country then we need to go to the markets that we can showcase our talent. The best part is we can achieve that without going to super speedways. We don't need too and we will stay off of the tracks bigger than a mile.
Q16. Why keep the Challenge Division on the Hoosier Radial Tires while the Northern and Southern Division on Bias-Ply (10-inch Slicks) Tires?
A16. If I thought I could make the North and South work on a radial tire, I would have done that. The cost factor, does not lend it self to the purse structure of the North and South. So that's why we went with the bias-ply in the North and South. We kept the radial tire in the Challenge because if teams are using us as a training ground for there drivers to move up, we need to give them the tools they will need to succeed, hence the radial tire.
Q17. The ASALMS is going to the famed Milwaukee Mile in August, which is a mile in length, by far the biggest track the ASALMS has ever ran on in its' history. Will the ASALMS go to any tracks larger than a mile in the future?
A17. NO! This is a short track series and will remain so for as long as I own the series. Milwaukee really is the biggest "short" track in the country. It truly is more like a typical short track than other tracks that are a mile or more in length.
Q18. Did you ever think back on May 24, 2003 at Thunder Valley Speedway in Jones, Michigan that the series would evolve into what it is today?
A18. I know this is going to sound crazy, but yes I did. I always have had big plans for this series, I just never imagined it would happen in just four years.
Q19. Looking into the proverbial crystal ball for the ASALMS, where do you see the ASALMS going in the immediate future as well as long term?
A19. Since your looking into your crystal ball, do you see any winning lottery numbers? I do have a long term plan for the series, but some things are better left close to the vest. While there are many critics who think we don't know what we're doing, let me assure you that everything is going according to plan.
Q20. Finally are there any other misconceptions, rumors, anything at all that you'd like to clear up right here and now.
A20. Not really, no. People will talk, they always do. As I stated earlier, they generally bash you because of ignorance or jealousy, most of them are just plain wrong or misinformed. I can't listen to my critics, I need to stay the course and keep this series headed down the right path, even if they don't agree with the directions.
The only promise I can make to everyone is that myself, my team and all who are involved will give this series everything we have and we will never stop trying to make this the best late model series around.
The concept and vision of the ASALMS is catching on all over the country. The three traveling series' take on more than just the series within itself, there are now local short tracks and regional series' all over the country that are now or have been taking the template/crate concept and implementing that into their own respective programs. Whether it's local short tracks, or regional traveling series' that have now sprung up or already have a year or two under their belts.
The Michigan based, Super Pro Series is one, while the all new Mid-Atlantic Asphalt Racing Alliance (MAARA) based in New York and Pennsylvania will begin operations in 2006, is another. Several local short tracks all over the country have either already adapted or will implement the ASALM Series regulations into their regular programs now and in the very near future.
The Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wisconsin. The I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Missouri, and the Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids, Iowa are three prominent facilities, while several other speedways throughout the country are in the process of changing over to the template body/crate engine package.
The winds of change are upon us, this new concept of template bodies and crate engines has caught on all over the country! The template body/crate engine package is the wave of the future, and that future is now! The template body/crate engine package is everywhere you look and in due time will be the standard for which local short tracks to regional traveling series will base their ideas and regulations. All on a unique idea that came to frutation on a Saturday night in May of 2003 in South West Michigan!
The next scheduled event for the ASALMS will be the 2005 Awards Banquet to be held at the Quality Hotel and Banquet Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Saturday January 14, 2006, beginning with Happy Hour at 5:30pm.
For more information about the 2005 ASALMS Awards Banquet as well as the approaching 2006 season with the ASALMS Challenge Division, and the ASALMS Northern and Southern Divisions; check out the websites at: www.asalatemodelsnorth.com and www.asalatemodelssouth.com