Here are the 19 drivers that will be leaving on Monday, January 25th to compete in the ASA Transcontinental Series Free State 500 at the Phakisa Freeway Circuit in Welkom, Free State, South Africa. The event itself will take place on Sunday, January 31, 2010.
RON BARFIELD JR. - Florence, South Carolina, USA
Currenty owns and operates Dillon Motor Speedway, an ASA Member Track in Dillon, SC. Ron started his career racing at local short tracks in the Southeast United States. He moved up to the Pro Cup Series where he caught the eye of 1988 NASCAR Champion Bill Elliott. He finished 22nd in the 1997 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway driving for Elliott. He has 29 starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series where he has two top-ten finishes and has 71 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series where he has four top-five and 17 top-ten finishes. This is Ron's second time he has raced outside of the United States. He finished 12th in a NASCAR event in 1999 at the Twin Ring Motegi.
GREG BARNHART - Oklahoma City, OK, USA
Barnhart started his racing career by running dirt stocks, factory stock, modifieds and late models. He then moved up to asphalt late models where he met Barfield and started to drive for him. He also ran in the American Speed Association in 2003-04 and in the ARCA from 2005-07.
RUSS BLAKELEY - Whitewater, WI, USA
Russ Blakeley started racing at age 12 and won in almost everything he touched; go-karts, dirt bikes, drag cars, dirt cars, mud bogs and snow cross. By the time Russ was 16 years old he was racing Enduro Cars, Limited Late Models, Late Models, and Street Stocks. Career Highlights · 2004 NASCAR Elite Touring Division, Rookie of the Year · 2000 Millennium Late Model Champion, Lake Geneva Raceway, Lake Geneva, WI · 1999 Rookie of the Year-Late Models, Lake Geneva Raceway, Lake Geneva, WI · 1993 Rookie of the Year-Pikes Peak Hill Climb-Stock Car Division, Pikes Peak, CO · Crew Member for Scott Wimmer, Hooters Pro Cup & ASA Racing Series · Nicknamed "Captain Spectacular" for jumping a schoolbus over a motorhome. He now competes in the ASA Midwest Tour where he has one top-five and four top-ten finishes.
GEOFF BODINE - Chemung, NY, USA
Started racing up in Northeast racing Modifieds before competing as a full-time driver in the NASCAR Cup Series in 1982. His biggest win came in the 1986 Daytona 500, it was the first Daytona 500 win for famed car owner Rick Hendrick. He also has driven for famed car owners Junior Johnson and Bud Moore before owning his own team, which was the team for 1992 Cup Champion Alan Kulwicki, who lost his life in a plane crash in 1993. In his cup career he has 18 wins, 190 top-tens and 37 poles. Today, Bodine still races as he attempted to make the 2009 Daytona 500 starting field, but fell short. He is a regular competitor in the ISCARS Dash Touring Series sanctioned by ASA. After the Free State 500 event, he will be traveling to Vancouver, Canada for the Winter Olympics as he is co-owner of Bo-Dyn Bobsleds which designs and provides the bobsleds for the USA Bobsled team. With his bobsleds the won the gold medal in women's bobsled at the 2002 Winter Olympics and the 2009 Men's World Championships.
STEVE CARLSON - West Salem, WI, USA
Steve Carlson is one of the hottest race car drivers in the Midwest. He is the 2009 ASA Midwest Tour champion, his tenth touring championship in his illustrious career. He is a four-time ARTGO Series champion (1990, 91, 94, 96) and a five-time NASCAR Elite Division - Midwest Series champion (1998, 2000, 01, 02, 03). The 2007 NASCAR Weekly Series National Champion and has six track championships at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway (1978, 1979, 1982, 1984, 2007, 2008). This past season in ASA Midwest Tour competition he had four wins, three poles, seven top-five and nine top-ten finishes in eleven starts.
TIFFANY DANIELS - Smithfield, VA, USA (www.tiffdaniels.com)
Tiff started her career racing career in 1998 working on Bandolero race cars when she got the bug to go behind the wheel and started racing Legends in 2001. In 2005, she advanced to Limited Late Models where she got her first top-ten finish at South Boston (VA) Speedway in her second start. This past season she competed in the NASCAR Camping World East Series. She is a graduate of the Lyn St. James Driver Development Program. In 2007, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from University of North Carolina - Charlotte with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Concentration in Motorsports, and a Minor in Public Relations. She currently works full-time Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates as an Engineer working with former Formula One driver Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray. She is very focused on humanitarian efforts and being a role model to young future drivers.
MARC DAVIS - Silver Spring, MD, USA (www.marcdavismotorsports.com)
The 19-year-old driver is NASCAR's only African-American owner/driver. He has been around racing all of his life as he started racing BMX bicycles at age six. He moved to quarter-midgets at the age eight and then to Junior Dragsters in the NHRA. The young driver moved up to Bandolero and Legends cars where in 2003 he captured the National Championship in the Dirt Young Lion Division and the Road Course Young Lion Division, becoming the only driver to ever win two National Championships in the same season. In 2008, he competed in the NASCAR Camping World East Series driving for Joe Gibbs Racing where he finished fifth in points with four top-five and seven top-ten finishes. This past season he competed in the NASCAR Truck Series where he had an 18th finish at Martinsville Speedway and 32nd at Miami-Homestead. He, along with Tiff Daniels car which he owns, will pay tribute to the 1996 Bafana Bafan African Cup of Nations soccer champions.
DUSTIN DUDLEY - Phoenix, AZ, USA
Dudley got his start by competing in an RX-7 Mazda Sports car in ASA-ProAutoSports about ten years ago competing at Phoenix International Raceway and Firebird International Raceway. He moved up to the Stock Car GTO Division and has been running in stock cars for the last least the past five years where has set lap records and many wins. He is a full-time trial attorney.
LANCE FENTION - Tyler, TX, USA
After starting his career in motorcross racing, Fenton ran some SCCA National events eventually jumping into Late Model racing before moving up to compete in the ARCA Series. Fenton recently teamed up with car owner Danny Gill who will serve as his crew chief for the Free State 500. As soon as the Free State 500 is over, both will be heading back to the United States to prepare for the ARCA Series season opener at Daytona on February 6th in cars owned by Fenton. He will also drive in select events for Gill in the NASCAR Truck Series this year as well.
GARY LEWIS - Bothell, Washington, USA (www.garylewisracing.com)
Lewis was recently crowned as the 2009 ASA Northwest Late Model Tour Champion where he had four wins, three fast times and seven top-five finishes. He has also won championships in the ARCA Late Model Challenge Series (2007) and the NASCAR Northwest Series (2006). In 2005, he finished fifth in the NASCAR All-Star Shootout where he received the Hard Charger Award as he gained 29 positions. This is not Lewis's first venture outside of the United States, in 2005 he was one of five NASCAR drivers nationwide chosen to visit the U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Kuwait.
RICK McCRAY - Bloomington, CA, USA
McCray's experience behind the wheel has helped Orange Show Speedway, an ASA Member Track, put on some of the best racing action in Southern California where is the current promoter. He was a rookie of the year himself at the Speedway in 1977 only to back that up as the NASCAR Winston West Rookie of the Year in 1978. He holds the honor of being the first driver to be sponsored by Coors Brewing Co. and the first to bring a car sponsored by them over the Mason/Dixon line. This will not be the first time that McCray has ventured overseas to compete in a stock car event. He competed in the 1980's when NASCAR visited Australia and showed off their brand of stock car racing. This trip to South Africa will be special as his daughter Toni will again join him like she did when he competed in Australia. He has 24 starts in the NASCAR Cup Series and 30 starts in the NASCAR Truck Series.
TONI McCRAY - Highland, CA, USA (www.tonimccray.com)
Toni has been around racing all of her life as she followed her father, Rick, around the different tracks on the West coast of California then the United States, even a trip to Australia. She started racing at the age of 15 at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, CA. In 1998, she ran her father's NASCAR Truck Series team. When the team was sold in 2000, she continued to work for NASCAR in the field of marketing and public relations. In 2006, she worked for Evernham Motorsports as the Marketing and Public Relations director for Erin Crocker. In 2007, she began helping her father run the McCray Motorsports organizationand be began running a Super Late Model at Orange Show Speedway where she had three top-ten finishes. She followed that up in 2008 with six top-ten finishes. This past October she won her first Super Late Model race at Orange Show.
JOHN MICKEL - Cambridge, United Kingdom (www.torquespeed.com)
Mickel was the first SCSA (Stock Car Speed Association) champion in 2001 and in 2002 he ventured over to the United States to try his hand at American stock car racing. In 2004, he competed in the American Speed Association National Series events at Charlotte and Atlanta where he finished on the lead lap in both events. In 2005, he made his debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Texas Motor Speedway driving for Bobby Hamilton Racing. Since that time, he has made six other starts with the last coming in 2008 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Most of Mickel's experience has come on oval tracks in Europe.
RON NORMAN - Tucson, AZ, USA
Norman recently won the Phakisa Challenge 150 event at Tucson Raceway Park, an ASA Member Track in Tucson, AZ. He claimed a $5,000 first place prize and a guaranteed starting spot for the Free State 500 event. He is a five-time champion at Tucson Raceway Park (1997, 1998, 2004, 2006, 2007). He works full-time as a printer for Wholesale Lithographers in Tucson.
TIM OLSON - Hamel, MN, USA
He is the President and co-owner of the successful ASA Midwest Tour in the United States. He started his racing career in 1972 racing quarter midgets in Elko, MN. He started racing late models in 1979, where he came up with his popular car # 79. He made first start in the popular ARTGO Challenge Series at Elko Speedway in 1982. A year later he made his first start in the ASA National Series at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. He continued racing throughout the Midwest until 1990 when he decided to spend time with his family. He started racing again in 1996 racing in some of the major racing series in the Midwest and racing locally at I-94 Raceway in Sauk Centre, MN and Fergus Falls Speedway in Fergus Falls, MN where he accumulated over 50 feature wins at the two tracks and won the track championship at I-94 in 2005.
SHAUN RICHARDSON - Noosa, Queensland, Australia
Richardson has been racing for twenty years where he raced ovals in the United Kingdom for the first ten years winning a few different championships.After competing on the UK ovals he then decided to go circuit racing where he spent two years racing Porsches where he finished second in the championship during his second year of racing. He then competed in Eurocars which are very simular to an ASA car spec frame chassis on circuits rather than ovals. In his first season he had a handful of podium finishes and finished third in the championship. In 2002, he competed in the ASACR Series which were full ASA cars running on high speed ovals. In 2003 he had no car and very limited sponsors. His two choices were to either miss a season of racing or re-mortgage the house to buy a car and run the first two events hoping to pick up a sponsor for the rest of the season. The gamble paid off and he received the Driver Achievement Award as his finished sixth in the standings.At the end of 2005 I tried to get a drive in the USA but still no joy but so still wanting to racing a thundering V-8. I moved to the other side of the world, and while being here I have done a year in the New Zealand V-8." Today, Richardson owns a trailer company in Australia called Positive Quality Trailers where he has two different branches, one on the Gold Coast and the second on the Sunshine Coast. They specialize in race car trailers and plant trailers. He lives with his partner Carol and their two sons River and Christopher. His outlook on life is simple...Live, Love, Race.
MARK SHAFFER - Peoria, AZ, USA
Shaffer comes to Phakisa with a lot of racing experience under his belt as he drove for Larry Pond's Gemini Racing Systems team in the ASA Truck Series about 15 years ago. He then moved up to a stock car competing in the Grand Am Road Race Series. He has also raced a vintage Trans Am car and has competed at Tucson Raceway Park, an ASA Member Track and is a longtime competitor in ASA-ProAutoSports. Shaffer, who grew up in Pennsylvania has been around the sport for a long time and has raced in many different cars including for Stan Hover, who has fielded cars for the Daytona 500. He will be traveling to South Africa with his 14-year-old son Mark Jr.
DON UHLIR - Tucson, AZ, USA
Uhlir started in the ASA-ProAutoSports program about ten years ago driving in the Corvette Time Trials. With an engineering background, he has enjoyed the challenge of not only getting behind the wheel of a stock car but learning how to set up the car as well. He always has had the need for speed as he did some racing in high school and college, but put it on hold after he graduated from engineering school. From there he started racing motorcycles. After he grew out of cycles, he met up with Larry and Vicki Pond, founders of ASA-ProAutoSports, and started with the Corvette Time trials. But he wanted more of a challenge and bought an old Southwest Tour car which he races today. He likes try new adventures including dog sled racing where he owns ten Siberian dogs and has assisted with the Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska. He is a full-time engineer.
CHRIS WIMMER - Wausau, WI, USA
He recently finished third in the ASA Midwest Tour standings with one win, six top-five and eight top-ten finishes in twelve starts. He will be familiar with the Phakisa oval as he has competed at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which Phakisa is designed after, in the NASCAR Truck Series where he has 21 starts. He also has four starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Chris is the younger brother of Scott Wimmer who has raced full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series. Scott finished third in the 2004 Daytona 500.