The 1950s was a key time for the car industry and motorsports series like ARCA in the United States.
Although technology rapidly grew, independent car manufacturers struggled with the demand. Consequently, it brought about some creative and innovative designs.
With that type of boom and what many called the golden age of the Indianapolis 500, motorsports would soon flourish.
In the late 1940s and early 50s, a racer named John Marcum spent time on track with NASCAR’s founder Bill France Sr. The two became friends all while having a fierce, on track rivalry.
That competitive fire led Marcum with establishing the Midwest Association for Race Cars in Toledo, Ohio in 1953. Today, this series is known as the Automobile Racing Club of America or ARCA.
67 years Later
ARCA will run its 1500th race on Friday (June 4) at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In fact, ARCA Menard Series President Ron Drager, Marcum’s grandson considers it “home.” And this is a homecoming 56 years in the making.
In this interview, Drager talked about 1500 being a big number in anything. But, for the ARCA president, the focus is on the people that have been involved.
Drager said, “Just think about all of the elements that have to come together. Everything that has to work to just put on one single event.”
Similarly like in the past, major motorsports series can be compared to a traveling circus.
As Drager observed, “You’ve literally got thousands and thousands of people over the year. All from drivers to teams, officials, sponsors and so many others to put on 1500 races.”
Road Course Racing
While Mid-Ohio is the third road course on the schedule, Drager remarked how “these guys love the road courses.”
But, this race and the homecoming at Mid-Ohio is very special. Moreover, it serves as a stepping stone for the drivers, according to Drager.
“We are a minor league series,” he observed. “We are here to help build these young drivers up for a chance to one day race in the NASCAR Cup Series.”
Drager would go on to say that with the addition of multiple road courses in the Cup and Xfinity series, “We want to have our drivers better prepared. And this all just came together perfectly.”
From a business standpoint, Drager said this is big for the series as well. Mid-Ohio is right in the middle of the market for Menards, the series’ entitlement sponsor.
As for the Menards name, it’s well known across the NASCAR world. Significantly, Draeger observed the longstanding relationship with Menards.
“This business partnership with Menards over the last 13 years has been big for the series,” he said. “This race is enabling Dawn dish soap, a Proctor and Gamble entity and a Menards vendor partner to tie everything together.”
All of this really bring Central Ohio and the ARCA Menards Series closer. And it’s getting a lot of support from the community.
In the interview (playable below), Drager talks about the 70 year family history. Additionally, he discusses about the decision to sell the series to NASCAR and the health of short track racing.
Ultimately, Drager shares his thoughts on various ARCA topics and being the owner of Toledo Speedway and Flat Rock Speedway in Michigan.