Schrader has often watched Street Stocks race at Salem when he would compete there with the ARCA Menards Series. Now he will join them on-track for an exciting 50-lap shootout.
“I’ve got to watch them there quite a few times when we were there with the ARCA race,” Schrader told Speed51. “They put on a heck of a show. I got real excited when they told me I’d be driving a car for the Barnes family. I thought, hell, them things are always running good, so that really made it good.”
While Schrader has plenty of experience at Salem, including a pair of ARCA wins there, he did take advantage of a testing opportunity a couple of weeks ago to ensure he was prepared for Sunday’s race.
“I’ve gotten enough laps around there in enough different types of cars. I won’t be there for the Saturday practice, but I wanted to do this thing right. They had a test up there a couple of weeks ago, and I drove up, made myself a dozen laps just to be a little ahead of the game when we unload Sunday morning.”
Salem Speedway is a treacherous, high-banked oval with plenty of character. It’s a track that demands the full attention of any racer, something Schrader understands and appreciates all too well.
It’s a little more intense than a lot of places. A lot of places, you’re just making laps and racing the competition. Here, you’re racing the competition and watching out for that damn track at all times. Any little lapse of concentration and you’re in the fence.
At the peak of his career, Schrader competed in the NASCAR Cup Series, winning four races and finishing as high as fourth place in the points standings. He raced for the likes of Junie Donlavey, Rick Hendrick and the Wood Brothers during his Cup career.
However, Schrader doesn’t view himself as a NASCAR star, past or present. He just sees himself as a racer – one willing to poke fun at his seniority compared to most of his competition these days.
I have to remind people I’m not a Cup guy. I ran some Cup races. I’m going to be 66 freaking years old in May. The only advantage I’ve got is that I’m old. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you can’t drop in someone’s backyard and expect to whoop them easy.
In spite of nearly being “66 freaking years old,” Schrader still loves to race. He’s seen most frequently in Dirt Modifieds these days, still burning to race as often as possible.
“I have obviously hit my head too many times. I’m just not smart enough to go play on a boat or ride on a motorcycle or whatever. It’s all I’ve done since I was 16. It’s been my livelihood since 1979. Come the weekend, or any time I can, I just want to climb in the car and make some circles. I enjoy the hell out of it. I don’t see that changing any time real soon.”
Schrader has also spent some time this year testing the new Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) car ahead of that series’ debut in June. He has enjoyed the tests and offers a glowing review of the machines that will be on display.
— Superstar Racing Experience (@SRXracing) April 13, 2021
“They’ve done three tests, we did two of them. The car is challenging. It’s kind of a road-race car that they’re adapting to make work on the asphalt and the dirt. Right now, it probably likes the dirt a little bit better.
“The driver’s going to have to go to work, find the place and hunt something out to make this thing good. They’re excellent race cars. After spending some time with Ray and understanding what the goal was, I feel like they’ve really accomplished it. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Sunday’s racing at Salem Speedway will include the ARCA/CRA Super Series and JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour along with the CRA Street Stocks. Fans unable to attend will be able to watch live on Speed51.TV.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: ARCA Racing