ARCA Fest Practice Day

Ross Kenseth, Kyle Shear and Kari Shear-Carlson

June 6, 2014

Story and Photos by Fay Hendricks
ARCAfest is back at The Milwaukee Mile for the third consecutive year, with so many activities packed into their visit that it resembles a three-ring circus.
ARCA Midwest Tour promoter Steve Einhaus talked about efforts to provide the fans with several entertainment bonuses along with the five divisions of racing this weekend. Indeed, there would be something for just about everyone. A live band, huge car show and monster truck show were added to the already busy schedule. And then there’s the racing.

Friday’s practice was well-attended as the teams rotated through their sessions and worked on their race setups. Some were racing elsewhere and would have to catch up the next day. With no crashes, this was a calm day, although we heard of a couple expired engines earlier. This was the most relaxed we would see the teams before racing began the next day when everything got up to full speed.

We see the third generation of racers in some families have a much different experience than their forefathers. They begin at a much younger age, learn the ropes in several divisions of racing, and are seasoned veterans before they are old enough to vote. This is nothing like the past when racers began as adults. The ideal world of racing in the 1980’s is long gone, but the friendships remain. Many of them came to Milwaukee for the weekend.

The Howie Lettow Memorial race is the highlight of the weekend for the ARCA Midwest teams, with the master crew chief’s widow Cheryl was enjoying reunions here as well. Former ASA racer Dennis Lampman was here with son Tim, who borrowed a truck to fulfill a childhood dream of racing on The Mile like his father did. Another ASA veteran, Tom Jones, was here to help son Andy in his truck venture after finding success in Legends cars.

Wisconsin’s Johnny Sauter couldn’t practice Friday because he was competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck event in Texas. Joe Nemechek was also in that contest while son John Hunter was in Milwaukee for the weekend. Erik Jones had just graduated high school before joining the Texas field, and will be in the Kyle Busch Motorsports car for the Howie Lettow Memorial at Milwaukee.

After the day’s practice was done the crowd went to the Budweiser Pole Party in the pavilion behind the grandstands. A live radio broadcast of the Racing Roundup show featured many of the racers, a band rocked the place, and the teams drew numbers for their qualifying positions. We pulled ourselves away from this happy reunion as the sun set, knowing the next two days would be very busy.

Dean Strom, Ross Kenseth, Travis Sauter, John Hunter Nemechek

Dean Strom, Tim Lampman, Steve Einhaus, Jerry Wood

Dean Strom, Nathan Haseleu, Steve Wallace, Jeremy Miller

Dean Strom, Kevin Ramsell, John Fischer, Tim Lampman

Dean Strom, Lyle Nowak, Bobby & Ryan Gutknecht