ASC: Carvajal, Arnheiter - ASC interview

Taking the Lid Off ASC Racing! Exclusive Interview with ASC Co-Directors Steve Carvajal and Dave Arnheiter. ASCRacing: Overall, was your experience as ASC Director as you expected? David Arnheiter: The experience was good. When...

Taking the Lid Off ASC Racing!
Exclusive Interview with ASC Co-Directors Steve Carvajal and Dave Arnheiter.

ASCRacing: Overall, was your experience as ASC Director as you expected?

David Arnheiter: The experience was good. When we started this year we had real good base to build on, so it was just a matter of determining how to fine-tune the series.

Steve Carvajal: Yes, I agree, but it was not at all what I expected. I did not expect that the series was going to become so popular. I did not even know what, if anything, to expect by becoming a director of the series. I found out that you have to really plan everything that you do, and that no matter what you do, some will like it, some will not. You have to believe that what you are doing is in the best interest of the series, even if it's not necessarily in your best interest, or the interest of those around you. It has to be a benefit for the series first and foremost.

ASC: What are the major challenges that you found during this first year?

SC: Getting the series moving forward was a big hurdle to overcome. It had not grown much in the last several years, for some reason, and needed a jump-start. Getting folks interested in showing up and putting on a great show, close racing, and making sure everyone has fun. When we determined for sure that the current ZZ4 motor was going to be discontinued by GM, we worked pretty hard to decide what would be a replacement platform. We discussed various motors and options with many engine gurus and decided on the course of action to follow. The next problem was how to implement the program as easily as possible with as few disruptions as possible. Chris Evans made our lives a lot easier when he opted to try the Fastburn and later the Ford motors in his cars and give us an honest run. He gave us our test platform. Thanks go to Chris and his team for taking the gamble on ASC's behalf. For the most part, everyone involved did their part to make the first year easy for Dave and I.

DA: One of the most difficult parts of the job is trying to do what is best for the series at the expense of your fellow racer. We have a great group and change is not always fair to all.

ASC: How would you describe ASC's current relationship with NASA from the self-ruling standpoint?

DA: I think we have to have something of value to ask for money. At this time we are working with companies that we can sell quantity, such as tires, fuel, shocks and possibly the bodies. With the money gained, we can provide better car inspections and possibly return some money to the racers. We think that this will lead to larger car fields and a series sponsor. What you have to keep in mind it that just a few years ago we were lucky to have 3 or 4 cars show up, now we are getting 20 car fields.

SC: I agree. We are marketing ourselves more and more, mainly as we determine how to do so. We are discussing the series and the possibilities with more potential sponsors and we'll eventually land a couple of really good sponsors. We have to put on a really good show and have a bunch of cars in order to attract major sponsors and that will come. One of the most important things that the series and the competitors can do to help attract sponsors is to become better racers. We need to have more cars finish the race and less carnage. Drivers need to learn when and how to make the right move at the right time. We are hoping that the ASC racing school held in February will be a big help. (See schedule section for details)

ASC: Both of you race regularly in the series, do you find it hard to rule and make decisions that may negatively affect you or your own team's results?

DA: Not for us, I think we both are doing what is best for the series even if Steve or I take the hit. I think if this series goes where we think it can, the directors should not be involved in the racing but as racers we may give the series some passion from a racer's perspective.

SC: I know that Dave would never rule against himself, so I have to be doubly vigilant in this regard. (They both laugh). Actually, it's pretty easy, you simply have to take off the driver's helmet and put on the director's hat. ASC: What is your opinion on the current rules and overall championship format?

SC: The current rules have been updated and hopefully are adequate to sustain the momentum of the series. They will always need to be revisited and changed depending on results, tests, and opinions. The championship format is the one from the NASA CCR and we have discussed various ways to improve the format, but have not come up with anything substantially better. Some teams feel that it's not right that a person can win the series championship, yet not win a single race, (theoretically...), and other teams feel that the championship should reflect consistency. We will continue to look at the format and make changes when we have a better plan.

DA: I like the rules but I think it is equally important to enforce them. The rules have no meaning if they are not enforced. I think this year, with some sponsorship money; we can do a better job of enforcement. With respect to the championship points, I would like to see us throw out a race or two. We all have jobs that allow us to race and there are always times when work takes priority.

ASC: As ASC grows, do you see the series eventually racing at a more professional level?

DA: It is an interesting thought. Years ago SCCA had the tiger by the tail with the Trans Am series and developed pro series arm to market it. I would like to think we could do a good enough job to make NASA market the product.

SC: In order to continue growing, ASC MUST become a more professional series. It is an exciting series now, but the racing must become more professional, and the competitors must raise the level of their race craft constantly. That is kind of our mission, to become better at what we do, all of us, when we are on the track. The schools will help, constant support from fellow competitors will help, and seat time will help. ASC will remain a series for up and coming stock car drivers who wish to road race, a good place for members of NASA and other organizations to make the step up to, (if you will allow me...), semi-pro racing. We are negotiating with several entities with regard to becoming support races for various "Professional" racing events, such as IRL, CART, and ALMS. We do not have anything locked down yet but are continuing to pursue these avenues. Racing in the venues would give us more visibility and possible raise our level even mor! e.

ASC: If ASC can guarantee 16-18 cars per race, what would prevent ASC from becoming the main event and collecting a small spectator cover charge?

DA: That you would have to talk to NASA. Right now we are trying to increase the car count without compromising safety.

SC: Well, I actually think nothing would prevent us from charging a spectator charge that I know of, but right now, who would be willing to pay it? In the US, road racing is notoriously hard pressed to attract an audience. Most of the major road racing programs, ALMS, GRAND AM, CART, even NASCAR, could not live off of the spectators in the stands for a road race events. We should be able to field 15 to 25 cars at every race this year. We have around 15 competitors that have verbally committed to running the entire season as of now. NASCAR's Southwest Tour only had 11 teams make every race last year and the Northwest Tour only had 13. If these 15 make 90% of the races, that will put 13 to 14 regulars and 6 to 15 non-regulars for most of the races. This will give us a 20 to 25-car average for ASC.

ASC: Any other comments that you would like to add?

DA: For some reason I think that our series is a little intimidating to other racer. If any racer is thinking about upgrading their ride, I just don't think that there is a series that is more fun, less expensive and has a better group of competitors.

SC: I would like to personally thank everyone for supporting Dave and I last year, and making our first year rowing the boat pain-free and a blast.

And we would like to thank Steve and Dave for taking their time to share their thoughts and insights with us. For more information about ASC, please visit


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