TOLEDO, Ohio – This Saturday’s ARCA Mobile 200 at Mobile Int’l Speedway will have a different feel for Frank Kimmel and a different look for series race fans. The 10-time ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards champion will be shifting from driver to coach/spotter for this weekend’s activities at the Alabama half-mile short track, ending a streak of 387 consecutive starts in the series.
“I’m 52…I understand this day was coming,” Kimmel said. “As you get later in your career, things change. I feel very fortunate to have done this as long as I have. I know I’m very lucky to have the career I do, but when it does finally happen, it’s a little disheartening. But I’m still looking forward to going. This is part of my deal. My plan is to go to Mobile and be the best coach and spotter I can be and do all I can to get one of those Venturini Motorsports cars in Victory Lane. These are the cards we’re dealt, and I’ll work with this situation to the best of my ability.”
The last ARCA race that Kimmel missed was the season-ending event at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1996. Since then, starting with Daytona, 1997, Kimmel has driven in every ARCA race, totaling 387 consecutive races over 19 years.
Despite not driving in Saturday’s ARCA Mobile 200, Kimmel is eager to get to the track and go to work.
“I’m going to be spotting for the 55 car, and I’ll be helping Brandon (Jones) in any way I can … but Brandon’s such a good racer; I really don’t think he’ll need a lot of my help.”
It was announced in January that Kimmel would share the driving duties in the No. 25 Ansell-Menards Toyota for Venturini Motorsports with Jones, each driver taking 10 races apiece.
“My next scheduled ARCA race is Toledo in May. Now if something turned around this year, and we secured the necessary sponsorship, I’m still very interested in driving the rest of the schedule.”
Kimmel also knows he’s got a son chomping at the bit to get in an ARCA car.
“Frankie just graduated from UNC Charlotte in December and I know he’d love to get in an ARCA car, and I’d love to be able to help him do that. Especially with me not running for points, with the right sponsor package, we can hopefully put something together for him. He’s already run some races at Salem, and has run very well, so we’d like to get him back in the seat.”
But for now, it’s back to the track for Kimmel, something he’s known all his life starting with his father Bill Kimmel, Sr., who started his racing career back in 1949. Kimmel literally grew up at the track.
“I’m looking forward to Mobile. It’s going to be an interesting experience. I’ve never been in this situation, so I don’t really know how I’ll react to it. I mean, we’re at almost 400 consecutive ARCA races now … nearly 500 altogether, so I’m just not sure how I will feel when I get there. This is an ARCA race. My brain and my body tell me I should be driving that car, so we’ll see how it works out.
“At the end of the day, I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel to have made a living doing this for so long, and to still be making a living at it. It means a lot. I still have a job to do when I get there, and I plan to do it to the best of my ability. I want to see a Venturini car in Victory Lane, and I’d love to be able to help with that.”
Kimmel has 491 career ARCA Racing Series starts overall since his debut in 1990. If he competes in his remaining nine scheduled races, the season finale at Kansas Speedway would be his 500th ARCA start. He is the all-time winner in series history with 80 victories.
-ARCA Racing Press Release. Photo Credit: Speed51.com