Avid readers of Circle Track will remember back in the Aug. '07 issue a story chronicling the Urban Force Racing team. The local race Wisconsin race team was made up of a group of high school students led by their automotive technology instructor and funded by the founder of ABC Supply Company. The idea behind the team was to create a program using racing as the carrot to keep troubled kids in high school.
A lot has happened in the two and a half years since that article first appeared. Several drivers climbed behind the wheel of the Urban Force team looking for the right combination. Ken Hendricks, the benefactor of the team, passed away in a tragic accident. And the initial single team concept gave rise to the ASA Educational Series.
The brainchild of auto technology instructor Pete Raskovic, the ASA Educational Series pairs high school students interested in pursuing a career in the automotive field with a local race team. Students are required to work a minimum of three hours in the team's shop during the week and at the track on race night. The end of season reward is a guaranteed scholarship valued from $1,500 to $25,000 to Ohio Technical College (OTC) in Cleveland, Ohio. The program was piloted at Madison International Speedway (MIS) in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2008 and was run full-swing in 2009.
Recently, the hard work of the individuals involved in the program culminated on a rainy Saturday night at MIS. A group of more than 100 race team members and their families gathered for the presentation of the ASA Educational Series scholarships to OTC.
More than 30 students from area high schools participated in the 2009 ASA Educational Series working as crew members or drivers at Madison. A point system similar to the MIS weekly racing points system was used to determine the winning team members. Just like the actual on-track competition, students in the Educational Series accumulated points over the course of the season which ran from May 22 to August 7. By the time that August date rolled around more than $250,000 in scholarships were earned by the students in the program.
Rain forced the ceremony indoors but didn't deter the crowd of more than 100 families and
ASA Educational Series director Larry Pond spoke to the students and their families about the values they will take with them from this experience. "The discipline, hard work, and intelligence that you put into racing is what brings success. That's what brings success in life and you guys have a great start. It's great to get the passion for racing and this is where it starts. If you're passionate about what you want and you're willing to work hard to get there, you will be successful. Nothing comes easy in this life. If you work at it . . . you can do whatever you want. It's passion, hard work, and dedication."
Pond's words really outline the core principals of the ASA Educational Series and that is an important factor in the success of both the participants and the program itself.
MIS General Manager Dave Grueneberg couldn't say enough good things about the importance of the program. "This program was brought to the speedway by Steve Einhaus and Pete Raskovic. It's a great program. There are a lot of things out there for kids to do today but racing is something you can do as a family. This is great because it brings a family closer together and you know what your kids are doing. For us to have this at MIS is a great thing. Where else can you get a scholarship doing something you enjoy?"
But more than that, Grueneberg said the program also helps promote racing not just at his track but beyond. "It's all about getting kids involved in racing which is a great thing to do because it keeps enthusiasm in racing. I think it's great that this program is going nationwide since there are a lot of kids who can benefit from this. You people are the founders of this program . . . teams that have taken a student on their crew are the ones who deserve the credit."