DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — When you see the prize at the end of the finish line, you do everything to make sure you have the best opportunity to be the first to grab it. Ron Norman did that, and with the support of friends and family, he won the Phakisa Challenge 150 this past Saturday at Tucson Raceway Park, an ASA Member Track, and will now compete in the ASA Transcontinental Series Free State 500 at the Phakisa Freeway Circuit in Welkom, Free State, South Africa on Sunday, January 31st.
"I would never have dreamed in my entire life that this was a possibility. "— Ron Norman
"I would never have dreamed in my entire life that this was a possibility," Norman said about winning the race and getting the opportunity. "I get pretty excited. I have won some good money races and some that were like a dream come true. But this is an opportunity I thought I would never have."
Norman was the fast qualifier for the race. A fan drew a chip to determine his starting spot and they drew the third starting spot for him. His car owner, Scott Ruschenburg started next to him in fourth with Darren Robertson and Thane Alderman on the front row.
Norman didn't waste any time to get to the front, "I decided to go on lap three. The car was so good and I wanted to be in the lead, have the clean air and rock 'n roll," Norman recalled. "I never experienced a car that handled so well. I have won a lot of races at Tucson but never had a car that was that good from green to checkers."
At the halfway break, they only made a minor sway bar adjustment, went back out and had the same car that he experienced in the first half. With 18 laps to go, the caution flew which Norman didn't want to see, "I was a little nervous especially with a double-file re-start," Norman said. "I had Ruschenburg on the outside of me. But got a good start and was told that the battle for second was some of the best racing out there. I was just glad that I was in front of them."
Norman went to victory lane where Dennis Huth, ASA President, was waiting to hand him the trophy and extend and invitation to compete in South Africa at the end of the month. "I have no idea what is going to happen when I get there. I'm nervous that the car is going to be right and competitive. If the car is right then I am going to be competitive," Norman said. By the way, Norman did state he did send in his passport application last month hoping he would have to use it soon.
His car owner Scott Ruschenburg finished second. "I think Scott was more excited than I was. I am very grateful that he gave me this opportunity," Norman exclaimed.
A full-time employee at Wholesale Lithographers for the last 21 years, Norman had a lot of support at the event. "Walt Pearson, the President of Wholesale Lithographers, has been sponsoring me since I built my first Camaro," Norman recalled. "He has helped me from day one and he is still a big supporter. As a matter of fact, he had half of the VIP area rented out for his family and friends."
Norman is a five-time track champion at Tucson Raceway Park (1997, 1998, 2004, 2006, 2007).
Norman will join the list of great drivers that will be competing in the Free State 500 including Geoff Bodine, who visited Tucson a couple of months ago and drove Norman's car. "That was a lot of fun when he came to visit," Norman recalled. "I am looking forward to talking to him this week about racing around Phakisa."
Norman did want to thank his family, friends, Mark Ebert at Tucson Raceway Park, his sponsors and ASA for this opportunity.
"It is a pleasure to invite Ron Norman to compete in the Free State 500," Dennis Huth, ASA President said. "You could tell from watching in the stands that he was very focused and wanted to win this race. He will be a welcome addition to this event."
Tickets for the four days of action can be obtained from Computicket outlets countrywide or go to www.computicket.com. Prices range from R20.00 on Thursday to R 330.00 on Sunday. Spectacular discounts for Saturday/Sunday tickets are available. All tickets include a 90 minute Pit Walkabout on all days.
For more information about the Free State 500, please visit www.phakisa.com or www.freestate500.com.
To learn more of the Daytona Beach, Fla.-based American Speed Association call (386) 258-2221 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For news and information from all the racetracks and regional tours involved in the ASA, visit www.ASA-Racing.com.
ASA®, ASA Racing®, and American Speed Association® are registered trademarks of Racing Speed Associates, LLC. ASA International, LLC and Racing Speed Associates, LLC are not related to or affiliated with ASA Late Model Series, LLC.
Below is an interview with Scott Ruschenburg out at Tucson Raceway Park a little before the start of the ASA Phakisa Challenge 150. He talks about the $125 shock he will be using for the race, other places he races and Ruschenburg also said if either he or Ron Norman won, one of them would be going to South Africa. Real curious...who do you think is going?