Racing has a way of bringing magic to the surface before or after a big event. Whether it’s a driver winning on their birthday or dedicating a victory to a fallen friend or family member, sometimes it’s almost too good to imagine.
The ASA STARS National Tour Sunshine State 200 will have a story like that. It’s not about the winner or who even sets fast time for the race at Five Flags Speedway (FL) on Saturday night. It’s about re-birth the ASA Brand with one of those officials who was there back in the day.
The story goes like this. When the green-flag comes out to signal the start of the race it will come from Dan Spence, who was the ASA National Tour race director when the series ended in 2004. Spence was a former flagman for the ASA series prior to making his way to the control tower.
“Am I excited about it? I guess you could say so,” said Spence. “The main thing is I am pleased to see the ASA name come back to life. It’s cool to be involved in it. This is something I have hoped would happen for a long time. It’s branded the same as what it was back in the day and it’s closer to the roots of Late Model from the 1980’s and we will see where it goes.”
The story goes deeper. Not only is Spence the one to help tie these two points of ASA history together, but he also gets to do it in his backyard. Spence lives in nearby Mobile, Alabama and while the track across the bay may be closer, Five Flags is like his summer home.
“It’s been a year putting this together,” added Spence. “The people involved have been behind the scenes getting everything ready for this season. to see it finally come together is pretty exciting. It’s also cool that we get to do it here in Pensacola.”
Years ago the trips to work ASA races included the whole family as his son Danny learned the craft and his wife Nancy and his daughter Carrie were also a big part of those ASA events.
“We were going to be short handed one race in Memphis and I brought my 15-year-old son Danny along to help out. Despite being 15, he worked on the tech line and on pit road and was hired to run the rest of the series. My wife Nancy helped with scoring work and my daughter even helped with sales and advertising, doing banners and handouts.”
The next season Danny moved to the flag stand as his dad became the race director. The family went ASA racing every weekend for several seasons.
Spencer spent a decade before his ASA days flagging with the Bob Harmon All Pro Series from 1980 to 1989. He even stayed on when NASCAR bought the series in 1990.
It only seems fitting that the new series will get the send off from the former ASA and All Pro Flagger. ASA STARS will shift to the next track after Pensacola, but Spence will stay behind in the Panhandle knowing he is going to be a part of history.
Joining Spence is current ASA STARS Race Director, Joe Balash, who was also on staff with the series from 2000 to 2004 as the Senior Vice President of Racing Operations.
Racing gets underway on Friday at Five Flags Speedway with practice for the ASA STARS National Tour and then Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stock division and The Dock Sportsmen division will have feature races. On Saturday night before ASA STARS Sunshine State 200 the Faith Chapel Outlaw division will race at 5pm.
The main event then rolls off at 7:30 when the ASA STARS National Tour goes green in the Sunshine State 200. The event is a combination race with the ASA Southern Super Series and the Deep South Cranes Blizzard Series.