Frank Kimmel is nine-time ARCA RE/MAX series champ, and after this season’s ninth event, at Mansfield Motorsports Park, he stands third in championship points. I phoned him at his shop just north of Louisville, Kentucky, on June 24.
Q. What’s your impression of Parker Kligerman?
A. It’s a bit of a throwback. I think he’s an exception. I think he’s really, really good. He’s showing it every week. He’s very smart, doesn’t get himself into trouble, doesn’t run over people or anything like that. He takes care of his race car. And he’s really fast. He’s just a triple threat, I guess. He’s just done a really nice job. I don’t know that we’ve seen a whole lot of guys of his ability and his talent, so far, in ARCA, in a while. We’ve had some great racers here recently that were able to move up and do well in the other series, and I think that Parker will be able to do the same thing very shortly.
Q. The second-place driver [at Mansfield] was another teenager. They’re flooding into the series, it seems, which maybe reflects changes in the series itself?
A. That’s kind of the way it’s been the last few years, actually. Year after year we seem to have young kids come in and do pretty well. I think it’s just a good place where they can go and get some experience. It doesn’t cost what the truck series or the Nationwide Series costs. It’s a good place they can come and race and get some big speedway experience before they move on to the next level.
Q. Talk about the highlights that are coming in the next twelve races. These tracks are really unique and you’ve run them all. So pick three or four you’d like most to talk about and characterize them for me.
A. Our next race up is Iowa, which is probably one of the best-sized racetracks that we have. I think it’s just an excellent place to go race. It’s a very good facility. We’re kind of out there in the middle of nowhere, so the people come out and watch. It’s just a good place to go race. I really look forward to that racetrack. We have a lot of family and friends out there, too, so that’s kind of cool. Not family, but friends.
Q. It’s steeply banked, isn’t it?
A. Not super steep—not so steep that you can’t race on it. But it’s just steep enough to where you can pass on the outside. So they did a nice job with it.
Q. And you’re running on dirt. I’ve heard all my life about these dirt ovals at DuQuoin and Springfield.
A. I think those are my favorite tracks. I really enjoy them. I used to not like them at all. When I first started going to them, I wasn’t very good at it and just didn’t enjoy the dirt racing. But with all the history, the unbelievable amount of rich history that goes with those racetracks—they’re mile dirt tracks—it’s really cool to see our kind of cars on those kind of tracks. I think they put on one heck of a show; it’s usually a very good race. It’s only a hundred miles, so it’s not a super long race. It just kind of takes you back to the old USAC days, back when stock cars ran on dirt tracks all the time. It’s something—if you’ve never seen one—it’s really great to go watch. It’s a very enjoyable race, and the state fair is going on right there at both tracks at the same time, too. So that’s always cool.
Q. Are those flat tracks?
A. Oh, they’re horse tracks.
Q. That’ll be a challenge for the young guys who haven’t probably been on a track like this.
A. They’ll do well. Bob Sargent is the promoter of both those racetracks in Illinois, and his grounds crew and his track crew do such a super job with the racing surface. It really races more like slick asphalt more than it does dirt. They’ll adapt very well. I expect them to be very fast.
Q. When you talk about history, give an example of something momentous that occurred for you.
A. One of the best memories I’ve had in years of racing probably happened at DuQuoin a few years ago when Tony Stewart came in and he was racing and for the first two years in a row, he and I battled the last fifteen or twenty laps pretty much by ourselves. Nobody else was even in contention. And we were able to beat him for two of those races. So, you beat Tony Stewart anywhere, it’s an impressive deal and really makes you feel good. And to beat him on dirt, that’s even bigger. Those were really good races for us: the crew, everybody involved, the family. It was a neat deal. Those were big deals for us.
Q. Talk about Salem. It has the longest history of any ARCA venue and I’ve heard it’s very steeply banked.
A. Salem is probably one of the coolest tracks that we go to. Of course it’s only a half-hour from our house, so it’s kind of a home-track deal. My son is currently leading the point standings up there in the super-stock class. We have a lot of time and effort at that place. It’s very high-banked. You run right at the top of the racetrack through three and four, kind of more in the middle in one and two. It’s very rough. It’s a hard place to drive around. It’s a hard place to drive around fast. It’s a hard place to stay out of trouble. You come out of that place and win or run up front, you felt like you’ve had a pretty good day. The ARCA races there are the biggest draw of the year for Salem. We usually pack the place every time we go there. It’s just a really neat afternoon. Again, I do have family and friends that come out to that track. So we have a lot of support there.