TOLEDO, Ohio — Matt Wallace, part of the third generation in the family of famous Wallace racers, is scheduled to make his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards debut in the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care Saturday and Sunday, May 16-17 at Toledo Speedway.
Wallace is the son of NASCAR/ARCA veteran driver Mike Wallace and nephew of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Rusty Wallace. Kimmel Racing will field the car.
“We want to get approved to potentially run some races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series…in the event an opportunity should develop for us,” Wallace said.
“My dad is friends with Bill Kimmel. They got together and discussed what it’d take to run a few ARCA races and sprung a deal at the last minute to make our ARCA debut at Toledo. I’ve been to Toledo one time, when my sister Chrissy (Wallace) made her ARCA debut out there. I know it’s a really famous short track, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m very excited to go there with Kimmel Racing; it’s quite an honor for me.
“This is part of a stepping stone process for me that will hopefully help me get to that next level. But, first things first. We need to go to Toledo, run respectable, turn some heads so we can do more. I really appreciate Kimmel Racing and the expertise they bring.”
Bill Kimmel, eight-time Cometic of the Year Crew Chief champion, has groomed several drivers over the last half-dozen years, including his son Will and Michael Lira, most recently.
“We just want to get Matt some experience in these bigger, heavier cars,” Kimmel said.
“We want to make him as competitive as we can and give him as much experience as we can. Our first goal will be to finish the race, so he can get that experience. Things are progressing nicely…he was here last week and got fitted into the car.”
While Wallace is a rookie among the ARCA ranks, the 19-year-old racer has already been behind the wheel for years.
“I started racing at eight years old in the Bandoleros,” continued Wallace. “Then we moved into the Legend cars…won a championship at 12 or 13 down at Orlando Speedworld. I remember Chase Elliott running down there at the same time.
“Then we moved up into the Pro Late Model division…drove for a gentleman by the name of Mike Scott…won five races at I-44 Speedway and finished runner-up in championship points. They were on a decimal system there, and we lost by .043 points.
“In 2014, we started our own late model team under Mike Wallace Racing…raced at Hickory, Nashville…all those famous short tracks. We won a Pro Late Model race at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway.”
The third-generation Wallace racer says he doesn’t take on the pressure of racing with a famous last name.
“As far as that goes, my family never pressured me to continue the family tradition. This is something that I want to do, but they always left it completely up to me. I’ve been going with Steven (Wallace) to help him on his late models…just trying to take in as much as I can and learn as much as I can. It’s a process.”
His father Mike Wallace (far right) made 21 ARCA starts over the years before moving into the NASCAR ranks. Wallace won six ARCA races over a three-year span – at Daytona, Talladega, Atlanta, and three times at Pocono.
“But I don’t hang the Wallace name over my head. I’m grateful for it…I’m proud of my last name and what it’s meant to racing. Maybe one day it can help me in the door, but I don’t expect it to pay my future.”
Speaking of futures, Wallace is certainly planning for his.
“Right now I’m attending Rowan-Cabarrus Community College; it’s about a half-mile from the shop. I’m studying business administration. I’ll be a sophomore. I’ve got a lot on my plate, but I’ve got to have a back-up plan if the racing thing doesn’t turn out.
“My main focus right now is figuring out these heavier ARCA cars. I tested an ARCA car at Rockingham with Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track school, but that was it. They’re so much different than the late models I’m used to running…the way they roll through the corners. Hopefully, there’ll be no issues and I’ll pick it up quick…but everything’s different.”
Toledo Speedway Weekend Schedule of Events for the Menards 200
The Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care will spread out over two days, Saturday and Sunday, May 16 and 17. Practice for the Menards 200 will include two sessions from 11:45 to 12:30 p.m. and final practice from 1:00 to 1:45 Saturday afternoon, with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 3:30. The 50-lap Buckeye CableSystem 50th Anniversary ARCA Truck Series feature will follow ARCA Racing Series qualifying Saturday afternoon. Menards 200 raceday festivities get underway Sunday with pre-race ceremonies and driver introductions at 1:30, with the green flag to follow at 2:00. The Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care is live on the CBS Sports Network.
Discounted Tickets On Sale Now at Menards
Discounted tickets for the May 17 Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care at Toledo Speedway are now on sale at six Menards stores in northwest Ohio. The tickets are available for the special price of $15 between now and race day if purchased at Menards. The Menards stores selling the discounted tickets include Defiance, Findlay, Holland, Oregon, Sandusky and Toledo. Children under six are free.
-ARCA Racing Series Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com