If you have followed ApexOff since I’ve been writing on the site, or listened to one single episode of our Racing Rundown Podcast, you’ve likely caught onto the fact that I love ARCA and Salem Speedway. At the same time, it’s really hard to overlook the awesome NASCAR weekend at Bristol, Indycar’s vintage LBGP, or the first great Chinese Grand Prix that I’ve seen, but that’s how pumped I am for Sunday’s ARCA race at Salem Speedway.
The allure of Salem Speedway is something I’ve overlooked for years. I’ve been going there as a kid and to be honest I didn’t start really appreciating it until about a year ago. It’s the most pure form of professional racing that you can watch. The no-frills branding of the ARCA series is what I’ve grown to love and that fits right into everything that Salem Speedway represents. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I’ve told someone “yea it’s exactly like Bristol, same guy designed them” (which I have no idea if that is even remotely factual).
Although it’s definitely not the highest banked track in America, it is known for its high banks and nowadays as much for its worn out racing surface that is hard on the Hoosier tires. It even has most of its lighting coming from the infield, which is my personal dividing line for the “Old School Track or Not Old School Track spreadsheet”. When Matt and I went to the fall ARCA race last fall, we literally saw weeds growing on the cracks in the racing surface.
I won’t sit here and recount my experience at Nashville all over again but I had an awesome time and was absolutely hooked for 200 laps in 30 degree weather. Needless to say I’d do that again in a heartbeat but I fully expect more of the same on Sunday at Salem. I also won’t regurgitate everything that I said in my ‘drivers to watch’ bit from Nashville but look for the same crop of drivers will be racing for a notch in their career belt.
This past Friday, I used most of my afternoon office time to catch a big chunk of the open test at Salem. Christian Eckes, Natalie Decker, Josh Berry, Bret Holmes, Joe Graf Jr. (couldn’t tell whether or not he was still on crutches), and whoever was running the 99 car (?) were all testing and turned a ton of laps until about 4 pm. I’ve always known I was an obsessive person but that was next level even by my standards. It was really interesting how the drivers would watch each other’s lines and then jump back in and try it themselves. I would have loved to be able to listen in to a team to learn about what they were adjusting on and why, but beggars can’t be choosers. Itching for Sunday’s race day to get here and I hope someone out there is having as much fun following this series as I am.