Dave Argabright
Dave Argabright

ARGABRIGHT: The Next Chapter

With the stroke of a pen and the shake of the hand, a key element in motorsports history has moved to its next chapter.

Emmett Hahn has sold the American Sprint Car Series (ASCS), ending a 30-year run that had a profound impact on sprint car racing. ASCS official Terry Maddox assumed ownership of the series with the conclusion of the 2021 racing season.

“I’m not getting any younger and with everything that has gone on in the last six months with my family, it’s time for a change,” said the 81-year-old Hahn, who recently lost his wife Fuzzy. “I love sprint car racing and I want to see it grow and thrive. I also wanted someone who has the time to put into making that happen.

“Terry is 26 and has the time and drive to work on this deal in the best interests of the teams and the sport.”

A Hall of Fame driver and promoter, Hahn launched ASCS in 1992 amid terrific skepticism. Based on a “spec” 360-cubi-inch cylinder head, the concept was literally laughed at by a great number of people who predicted a quick demise to the idea.

They greatly underestimated Emmett Hahn.

A driven, passionate man, Hahn’s ambition was often hidden by his easygoing nature and warm people skills. From the start, he believed — in his gut and in his heart — that the spec head would help teams that were struggling with rising engine bills. Despite opposition that sometimes turned personal, Hahn stuck with the idea during those shaky early years.

Was he right? The proof is in the fact that ASCS celebrated 30 years of competition in 2021.

The great legacy of ASCS thus far is the number of teams, drivers, fans and promoters who have enjoyed having a series to rally around over these 30 years. Not everybody can afford to go racing with the Outlaws, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to race.

The ASCS National series provided an alternative that allowed a good bit of travel yet remained within reach for many teams.

A key part of Hahn’s plan was the development of “regional” series to support the ASCS National series. Through the years those regional series — Lone Star, Mid-South, Sooner, Southwest and many more — gave an opportunity for up-and-comers to blossom and veteran stars to race close to home. The regional series also helped many track promoters keep the gates open with a show that was within range of the area fan base.

Mattox is a natural choice to lead ASCS going forward, as he has extensive experience as an official with the series. Longtime announcer and publicist Bryan Hulbert will continue with the series as well.

Matt Ward, Emmett Hahn’s grandson, will leave his longtime role as ASCS competition director, along with Ward’s wife Ashleigh, who handled timing and scoring responsibilities for the series.

In the days following the announcement of the sale of ASCS, Hahn also announced that Ward will take over the reins as the director of operations at the Tulsa Shootout and Chili Bowl Nationals, a position held by Hahn since 1987.

“In no way am I done,” Hahn insisted. “I’ll still be there if he needs me, but he will be the boss when it comes to things getting done at the Expo.”

Hahn has been a leading force in open-wheel racing for more than three decades and it is obvious that a transition to a quieter chapter is underway. Hahn is entitled to that privilege; his accomplishments are enormous and nobody has worked harder over the years to gain success.

Perhaps the greatest compliment Hahn has received over the years is the criticism from his detractors. That old adage about the pioneer taking all the arrows is true and Hahn took his share of arrows in those early years. But many of his critics struggled to accept the fact that Hahn had what others often lack: Vision. He didn’t just see things as they are; he saw things that could be.

That first shaky Chili Bowl in 1987 took vision. The concept of 360 racing with the ASCS head took vision. Both concepts are still going strong all these years later.

It’s been a great ride, Emmett. Life is good when you can drop down a gear — or two — and savor the success of your hard work. You’ve earned it.End Bug

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