In a sport dominated by big bucks provided by big name sponsors and the need for the best equipment, the Ash Racing team is proving they too can compete and succeed, even as the little guy trying to make it big. Brandon Ash has made a name for himself and in doing so put his name on the map. Even being recognized in the December 1999 issue of Stock Car Racing Magazine as well as by Roush Racing, which invited him to try out for a coveted Craftsman Truck ride, the #99 spot, becoming one of the top 5 finalists.
The 22-year-old driver from Umpqua, Oregon grew up with racing in his blood. From the time he was little he learned early on how to build and maintain engines. Learning under the guidance of his father, professional engine builder, Ed Ash, Brandon was exposed to the mechanics of automobiles. It is because of this, Brandon is knowledgeable and experienced in mechanics and engine building as well.
It was not until he graduated from high school, looking at the possibility of either going to college on a baseball scholarship or follow his father into the sport he loves so much, NASCAR racing, did Brandon seriously consider making stock car racing a career. Brandon started out just like other drivers, first with go-karts, progressing to late models, and now to his current place as the driver of the #23 Winston West car.
He ran a limited number of Winston West races in 1996 and 1997, going full time in 1998. In his first full run in the Winston West Series, he finished just outside the top 10, in the 11th place spot, even picking up a second place finish at Sears Point Raceway. In 1999, Ash posted 6 top 10 finishes and finished 8th in the championship point standings, which is a well accomplishment for anyone, yet alone for a team without any major sponsorship to back them up.
A lot of hard work goes into making this team one of the best, not just on the track but off the track as well. Brandon is not only the driver of the #23 Winston West car, he builds, maintains, and repairs the cars himself, with the aid of his father, car owner, Ed Ash, who also doubles as his crew chief. The entire Ash Racing Team is comprised of family and friends, all strictly volunteer, who do it for the pure love of the sport.
Every race is a new race with the entire team putting forth a valiant effort week after week to make sure their team has a chance to win. Other members of the team include, Doug Harden, gas man; Rick Mayberry, tire changer; Steve Moulton, jack man; Eric Ash, tire changer; Will Krogh, car chief; Mike Clifford, tire carrier; Dave Ash, catch can; Malcolm Ash, technical advisor; Bryan Brown, spotter; Kelley Brown, scoring; and Art Zagala. His mother, Debbie Ash and younger sister, Audrey, are also heavily involved in the Ash Racing Team.
Even without major sponsorship, the Ash Racing Team hitches up their F-350 and small hauler, gets out the map, and heads to the next racing destination with what they have. Lack of sponsorship has caused the team to learn how to live on a tight budget and make do with what resources they have. Never letting the lack of money get them down, always maintaining, "it is not what you have, but what you do with what you have." Resources are hard to come buy, but that does not lessen the efforts or enthusiasm the team puts forth, it only makes them strive harder to put their team in contention with all the other drivers. Any money earned gets placed right back into the team. They look at each race as a new race and only reflect on the past to learn from their misfortunes and mistakes, in order to do better the next time out.
Like many drivers and teams, they too face setbacks and disappointments, but that does not stop them from getting back on the track and giving it all they got. Brandon Ash may not have major corporate sponsorship, a big name owner, or even a fancy full size hauler to get him to the next race, like most Winston West teams, but each member takes time out of their busy lives to give 100% in making this team the best. Which is what NASCAR was built upon, hard work and team effort. Ash and the entire team enjoy what they are doing and make the most of what they have.
Brandon is not out there race after race to please anyone but himself and those that recognize and support him in his quest to succeed. In doing so, he is doing a great job, competing against some of the top drivers, not only veteran Winston West drivers, but Winston Cup drivers as well, many of which are backed by corporate sponsors. Brandon is not just hungry for a win, but for a championship. Although winning races is a major advantage in NASCAR, it is repeatedly stated that consistency is a major component in being a champion. And although he has yet to win a race or championship, Brandon gives it his all each and every time he is out on the track. Brandon Ash has always stated that winning is an important goal, but without major financial backing, his priority has to be to keep the car intact by not taking unnecessary risks in order to have a vehicle to take to the next race, to continue his hunt for a championship. That is not to say if it came down to winning the race by risking it all he would not take it, he has just had to learn how to pace himself and weigh each and every move in order to continue on in the season.
A true winner is not just one who wins on the track, but one who wins off the track as well. Ash has become a favorite of the Winston West fans, ask any one of them, they will tell you what a truly nice guy he is. Not only is he a great driver, he is a champion at heart. He takes the time at every race to greet, talk to, and sign autographs for his fans. He is accessible to those who want to meet him, and that is a champion off the track. Brandon goes out of his way to make sure everyone gets the opportunity to talk to him if they care to.
Brandon Ash's quest for a championship will never cease. He will continue to race, looking to take the checkered flag and stand in victory lane. What might have hindered another's career, has only driven this team to try harder. Some might say he is only at the starting line in his career as a stock car driver, others who know him, know he is finding his groove and making it work. He is a winner and champion in the hearts of his fans and supporters.
Brandon Ash and the Ash Racing Team are actively seeking sponsorship for the 2000 Winston West season.