The ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards is an American stock car series, the premier division of the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA). It is considered a minor but professional league of stock car racing, used as a feeder series into the three national touring series of NASCAR, and hosts events at a variety of track types including superspeedways, road courses, and dirt tracks. The series has a longstanding relationship with NASCAR, including using former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars, hosting events in the same race weekend such as Daytona Speedweeks, and naming an award after NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr. The series is not officially affiliated with NASCAR.
The series was known as the ARCA Permatex SuperCar Series from 1986 until 1991, the ARCA Hooters SuperCar Series from 1993 until 1995, and as the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series from 1996 to 2000. The series was sponsored by real estate company RE/MAX as the ARCA RE/MAX Series from 2001 until 2009. Midwest-based home improvement company Menards began sponsoring the series in 2010 jointly with RE/MAX, and became the lone title sponsor in 2011.
The series was founded in Toledo, Ohio in 1953 as the Midwest Association for Race Cars (MARC), a local touring group in the Midwestern United States. The series was founded by John Marcum, a friend and former competitor of Bill France, Sr. and former NASCAR employee, who created MARC as a northern counterpart to the southern-based NASCAR. Early drivers included Iggy Katona and Nelson Stacy.
The series became a part of Daytona Speedweeks in 1964 at the request of Bill France, allowing the series to open its season alongside the Daytona 500. The same year, the series name was changed from MARC (Midwest Association for Race Cars) to the current ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) as a suggestion from France to give the series more national exposure.
The series races on a variety of tracks from small ovals to superspeedways such as Daytona International Speedway. It is one of the last major oval track circuits to still compete on dirt tracks. In 2008 the series returned to racing on a road course. The series is currently headed by Marcum's grandson, Ron Drager.
Due to the similarity between the cars and racetracks of the two series, the ARCA Racing Series is frequently used to develop young drivers looking to break into the top three series of NASCAR. The series has spawned such drivers as Benny Parsons, Ken Schrader and Kyle Petty, and helped more recent Sprint Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch, Justin Allgaier, Casey Mears, and Sam Hornish, Jr. get acclimated to stock cars. Young drivers will often race in the series opener at Daytona International Speedway to gain NASCAR approval to run at superspeedways in the Truck or Xfinity Series. Other drivers, such as 10-time champion Frank Kimmel and 9-time race winner Bobby Gerhart remain in the series as opposed to pursuing a full-time career in NASCAR. NASCAR regulars, notably Ken Schrader, are known to frequent the series as well.
The general minimum age for drivers is 18. However, drivers as young as 17 may be approved to drive on speedway tracks, and drivers as young as 15 years can be permitted to drive at courses less than one mile in length and road courses. This is one year younger than the minimum age of 16 in the Camping World Truck Series (also for short tracks and road courses only).
After the 2015 season, ARCA ended its 30-year relationship with the Hoosier Racing Tire company, with General Tire replacing Hoosier.
The series is known for using veteran steel-bodied Generation 4 cars from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, running cars until they are several years old and even after a model's discontinuation in the Cup Series. For example, Bobby Gerhart's winning Daytona car in 1999 used a chassis built by Hendrick Motorsports in 1989. Following the transition of the Cup and Xfinity Series to the Car of Tomorrow in 2007 and 2010 respectively, the ARCA Series continued to use the 2007-style models of the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS (re-branded as the Impala), Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry, and Dodge Charger. The carbureted V8 engines used by the series are also built under similar specifications to their NASCAR counterparts, and occasionally purchased from NASCAR teams. In spite of the similarities, ARCA racing is much more affordable than its more popular counterpart, with car owner Larry Clement estimating the required budget to run an ARCA car as "10 percent of what a NASCAR Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup) budget is."
On August 1, 2014, ARCA president Ron Drager announced a new engine package option for the 2015 season, in addition to the current open motor rules package. The package is called the ARCA Ilmor 396 engine, alternately known as the ARCA Control Engine (ACE). Developed by Ilmor, which has also developed engines for the IndyCar Series, the engine is a "purpose-built powerplant" using Holley electronic fuel injection and based on the Chevrolet LS engine family that is able to deliver 700 horsepower and 500 ft. pounds of torque. The engine costs $35,000 to build and $15,000 to be re-built, and allows teams to use the same engine at all track types for up to 1500 miles between re-builds.
The Ilmor engine debuted during testing at Daytona International Speedway in December 2014, with Sean Corr's Ilmor-powered #48 Ford topping the speed charts at 188.478 mph (47.743 seconds). The new engine has generated controversy, with some teams that use the former engine package believing that their motors will become obsolete and converting to the new package will be too costly. Teams and outside engine builders also cannot perform maintenance on the engines, and minimal tuning is allowed (including the exclusive use of Valvoline motor oil). The spec engine also reduces manufacturer identity for teams, with construction based off the Chevrolet engine package and branded as an Ilmor. Non-Ilmor engines, meanwhile, are subject to intake and RPM restrictions to maintain performance limits relative to the new package.
On November 4, 2014 at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, NASCAR president Mike Helton unveiled a new body style for the K&N Pro Series East and West that will also be eligible for use in ARCA competition, based on the Sprint Cup Series Gen 6 models of the Chevrolet SS, Ford Fusion, and Toyota Camry. The new body, developed with Five Star Race Car Bodies, is constructed of a composite laminate blend and designed with easily replaceable body panels, to reduce the costs of fabrication, and to eliminate on-track debris after accidents. The composite body is also significantly lighter than traditional steel bodies. The body style was made eligible in the 2015 ARCA season only on tracks one mile or shorter in length. The composite body debuted at preseason testing at Daytona, with the intent of approving it for tracks over a mile in length. The composite bodies made their superspeedway debut at Pocono Raceway on June 3, 2016.Engine displacement: 350-360 cu in pushrod V8
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Weight: 3,400 lb (1,500 kg) minimum (steel); 3,300 lb (1,500 kg) (composite); without driver
Power output: ~700 hp unrestricted
Fuel: Sunoco unleaded gasoline
Fuel capacity: 18 U.S. gallons (68.1 liters) or 22 U.S. gallons (83.3 L)
Fuel injection – Ilmor only
Carburetion – All other engines
Compression ratio: 12:1
Aspiration: Naturally aspirated
105 in (2667 mm) – except restrictor plate tracks
110 in (2794 mm) – all tracks
Steel (Gen 4) – Fit to templates
Composite (Gen 6) – Unmodified
Rear spoiler: Minimum angle 65 degrees (steel); 70 degrees (composite)
Steering: Power, recirculating ball
Below is the list of all-time ARCA Racing Series champions, along with the Rookie of the Year and Bill France Four Crown award winners.
The Rookie of the Year award – currently sponsored by Scott Paper Company - is given to the rookie that scores most points at the end of the season. Winners have included future NASCAR drivers Benny Parsons, Davey Allison, Jeremy Mayfield, Michael McDowell, and Parker Kligerman.
The Bill France Four Crown award, inaugurated in 1984, is a prize given to the driver with most points at four specific events, combining dirt ovals, short ovals, superspeedways and road courses. The award was known as the Bill France Triple Crown prior to 2009, when the road course component was added to the competition. Future Winston Cup Series star Davey Allison won the first Four Crown. Frank Kimmel is the top Bill France Four Crown winner with seven titles.
Other awards include the Superspeedway Challenge, the Pole Award (most poles), the Marcum Award, the ARCA Motorsports Media Award, the Bob Loga Memorial Scholarship, the Spirit Award, Most Popular Driver Award, Most Improved Driver, and Engine Mechanic of the Year.
An Indiana-based indie game developer created ARCA Sim Racing '08 to simulate the Remax championship.