The last two cars to win ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards events at Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wis. were alike in one particular way: Both were 1971 Fords.
That's just one indicator of how much time has passed since ARCA's last trip to the banked half-mile track just south of Wisconsin's capital city. In fact, the last race at the track then known as Capital Speedway took place on June 24, 1973, with Bruce Gould finishing as the first of just four cars on the lead lap for one of his 13 ARCA victories.
Friday's Herr's Live Life with Flavor! 200 will introduce today's rising stars and seasoned veterans to the facility for the 15th race of the 2011 season, with ARCA's green flag dropping at the track for the fourth time at 8:30 p.m. Central (9:30 Eastern).
Practice for the 200-lap, 100-mile race will begin at 2:30 p.m. Central (3:30 Eastern) and will last for 90 minutes. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell is scheduled for 5:30 Central (6:30 Eastern), and an on-track autograph session featuring the entire starting field will begin at 7.
ARCARacing.com will host live timing and scoring and live audio coverage of all events.
Not surprisingly, none of the 35 drivers entered for Friday's race have experience on the track. Darrell Basham (No. 34 Darrell Basham Racing Chevrolet), who figures to move into the top 10 of the driver point standings after this weekend's event, made his ARCA debut in 1972, but did not compete in the 25-car field at Madison the next season.
Even racing simulation games popular to many drivers who have never experienced a certain track do not include Madison, but some of ARCA's top contenders have found other ways to prepare.
"I don't know very much," said Chad McCumbee (No. 1 ModSpace Ford), who won Sunday at Springfield, Ill. "I YouTubed it and watched some late model videos there, but I don't know a thing, man. We were discussing what gears we'd run and what setups we'd run."
Rookie points leader Ty Dillon (No. 41 RCR/CIPT Chevrolet) will aim for his eighth victory and another extension of his 415-point lead Friday, but recently said that YouTube videos have been his primary source for track research.
Tom Hessert (No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet) will enter Madison with top-five finishes in each of the last three races, including a runner-up effort Sunday at Springfield. He figures to contend again, but not because of any extended knowledge about the track.
"I know it's in Wisconsin," he said. "That's about it!"
While important for drivers working for championship position with only five races remaining on the season schedule, the Herr's Live Life with Flavor! 200 is meaningful for the ARCA Racing Series and series presenting sponsor Menards as well. The race is the first in Wisconsin - the home state for the home improvement retailer - since 2007.
"This event sponsorship is a direct result of a business-to-business relationship between Herr's Foods and Menards," said Mark Gundrum, vice president of marketing and communications for ARCA. "The end result is new distribution for Herr's, plus the opportunity for ARCA to return to Wisconsin to race.
"Herr's and Menards have become very important strategic marketing partners, not only for Madison International Speedway, but for the entire ARCA Racing Series."
Herr Foods was founded in 1946 in Lancaster, Pa. Today, Herr Foods is a leader in the snack food industry. While continually introducing the innovative products and packaging needed to satisfy ever-changing appetites and tastes, Herr's full line of quality snacks now consists of more than 340 items, including potato chips, pretzels, tortilla chips, cheese curls, popcorn, crackers, nuts, pork rinds, onion rings, and meat sticks. All are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors.
"At Herr's, we're proud to be working together with two great organizations, ARCA and Menards, as the title sponsor of the Herr's Live Life With Flavor 200," said Fran Dolan, vice president of marketing for Herr Foods, Inc. "We recognize Menards as a valued partner on and off the track. We see it as the perfect opportunity to introduce the Herr's brand of exciting flavors to Menards stores and the racing community of fans."
Madison International Speedway is located at 1122 Sunrise Rd. in Oregon, south of Madison off of Hwy. 138 between Stoughton and Oregon.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards features 19 events at 16 tracks on its 2011 schedule. The series has crowned an ARCA national champion each year since its inaugural season in 1953, and has toured over 200 race tracks in 28 states since its inception. The series tests the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule of stock car racing events in the world, annually visiting tracks ranging from 0.4 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both paved and dirt surfaces as well as a left- and right-turn road course.
Founded by John Marcum in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio, the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is recognized among the leading sanctioning bodies in the country. Closing in on completing its sixth decade after hundreds of thousands of miles of racing, ARCA administers over 100 race events each season in two professional touring series and local weekly events.