ASCS national competitors including reigning champion Jason Martin (36) in action at Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway. (Paul Arch photo)

WRG’s Dunlap Discusses ASCS Purchase

CONCORD, N.C. — It’s full speed ahead for the American Sprint Car Series.

Only three days before the start of the ASCS national tour season at RPM Speedway in Texas, World Racing Group officials continued release details of their purchase of the renowned 360 winged sprint car tour founded by Emmett Hahn in 1992.

WRG officials announced the purchase of ASCS on March 1 and released a point fund and tow money package on March 8. Tuesday afternoon, longtime WRG executive Brian Dunlap, who is serving as interim series director for ASCS, joined the media on a Zoom call to fill in more of the gaps involving WRG’s stewardship of the series.

“We purchased the assets of the ASCS, which was timing and scoring, all their intellectual property as well as series operating trailer,” Dunlap said. “Staff wise we are pretty much starting over. They had some dedicated staff that are coming along and we will introduce staff ourselves, so it is a good mix, but for the most part it’s parts and pieces and the ASCS branding and intellectual property.”

Ultimately, WRG’s goal is for the ASCS and its regional tours to serve as a foundation for the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series and 410 winged sprint car racing in general.

“We recognize that to have a strong pinnacle of sprint car racing with the World of Outlaws, we need a strong base and foundation to build off of and build up from there,” Dunlap said. “It is important that as we look out three, four, five, 10 years from now that we are feeding in and ensuring that sprint car racing is healthy from the top to bottom, from a team standpoint, a race track standpoint and a driver development standpoint.”

ASCS regional racer Sean McClelland works traffic at Oklahoma’s Creek County Speedway. (TWC photo)

Dunlap said he hopes to hire a full-time competition director and series director. He also acknowledged there has been plenty going on behind the scenes to assure track operators and competitors that the series is on track for the new season.

“It’s an ongoing work in progress because every event and every track needs reached out to,” Dunlap said. “As late in the game as this came about and as fast as it happened, it’s just being able to work through the schedule and get to every track on the schedule and make that contact and kind of ensure everybody that it is in good hands and we are here to work with them.”

Despite ASCS, which was under the ownership of Terry Mattox last season, reneging on many of its commitments to the drivers, Dunlap said he expects to have eight to 12 full-time teams on the ASCS national tour, adding that response to WRG’s involvement has been positive.

“It is relationship and trust building,” Dunlap said. “Fortunately, World Racing Group inherently sticks to their word and honors commitments. So from that standpoint, people are taking it as a given that things are on a much more stable footing going forward. That’s been unspoken through this whole process and almost a sigh of relief that ‘you don’t have to tell us that checks are going to be good or we are going to get paid. We know that and we are appreciative of that and excited to be racing.’”

Dunlap stressed the importance the 12 ASCS regional sprint car tours play in World Racing Group’s overall goal of strengthening sprint car racing across the board.

“The regional component of ASCS can’t be overlooked,” said Dunlap, who was instrumental in WRG’s development of the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series. “As we build the foundation out, we need to build strong regions. We are going to use the national tour to build strong regions and then use those regions to feed and build strong national events across the country. We are getting our hands around the regions right now. 

“They are all kind of independently run and operated and we are looking at how we can best provide them resources for their races,” he continued. “They serve a pretty vital role in the sprint car world. A regional show is about the lowest-cost sprint car show you can have and it does a good job of exposing an area to sprint car racing. It is important to us to maintain that and develop that, and use that to propel into national ASCS races and eventually build up to full World of Outlaws events.

“What it will do is streamline and unify the flow and make it easier for those drivers and teams to grow with the series and advance from regional level to national ASCS and to the World of Outlaws,” he noted. “Simple things such as unified memberships and unified rules between the World of Outlaws and ASCS on as many fronts as possible will help make those transitions easier.”

The cost of 360 winged sprint car racing has escalated in recent years and Dunlap acknowledged that WRG officials will consider future rule changes that would help reduce expenses for competitors.

“This year most changes would be safety oriented,” Dunlap said. “We will bring in some procedural changes going forward that match the order of operations of World Racing Group events. Merging their specifications into our format of rules and from there we will evaluate and lay out a plan, a three-year plan on bringing car specs in to align with where feel best saves competitor’s money. 

“It’s going to be very tough on the engine front,” he admitted. “We need to sit down and have conversations with engine builders about their thoughts and their ideas. Clearly parts are parts, so it is tough to ask an engine builder to charge less because of the cubic inch of the motor. We need to get our hands around what we need to do to make rules that make things live longer. Adding stability also adds resale value to motors and other items. It makes those assets an easier investment for a team knowing there is going to be an outlet to sell them.”