TOLEDO, Ohio — by, Don Radebaugh, ARCA — ARCA photo —
Car Counts for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards are up about 10% from 2015 to 2016.
So is the number on composite body cars with at least 20 in each short track event so far at Nashville and Salem. Now, make way for the composite cars to begin filling fields on the big tracks, beginning at Pocono Raceway in early June.
Officials from the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards announced in October 2015 that the composite material, flange-fit body, which debuted in 2015 on tracks one mile and less in length, would be approved for competition on all tracks except Talladega and Daytona in 2016. The body’s debut was met with resounding applause from team participants and race fans alike. Not only did the car perform successfully in competition, the aesthetically appealing new design was a crowd pleaser everywhere.
That said, the evolution of the composite body car will now take another giant step forward when it makes its superspeedway debut on track at Pocono Raceway in ARCA’s General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200 on June 3.
The car has already been tested at Daytona Int’l Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway in 2015, and has spent its share of time in wind tunnels over the last several months. The new composite body cars also recently tested on track at Michigan Int’l Speedway and are scheduled to test at Pocono on May 31, just days before the race.
The composite bodies, which greatly reduce the possibility of debris, are a lightweight, state-of-the-art laminate blend, less than 135 pounds. Designed without compromising rigidity, the 12 separate flame retardant panels are flange-fitted together for easy installation in the shop or at track.
With the much-anticipated debut of the ARCA composite body cars at Pocono, the older, traditional steel-body cars are still eligible for competition, so you’ll likely see a mix of both designs in the field at Pocono.
“I have no doubt that the composite car will be competitive on the superspeedways,” said Grayling Call, ARCA’s Director of Competition & Race Technology. “As the facts stack up, I’m confident the composite bodies will hold their own against the steel car. The composite car’s already been to the wind tunnel. Per the results, we should be very close.”
In addition to a car that looks nearly identical to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series machine, running an ARCA composite body car also brings a weight advantage.
“One of the biggest differences with the composite car is that the ARCA Rulebook provides for a one-hundred pound weight reduction. The composite car can weigh 3,300 pounds as opposed to the steel car, which has to weigh 3,400,” Call continued.
“And remember, as far as the overall configuration of the car, it’s nearly identical to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car. All the heights and widths are all the same. Some of the differences you may notice are that ARCA runs a front valence rather than the splitter…the rear spoiler heights are different too. But if you’re looking to gain experience in a composite car on superspeedways with a plan to one day race in the Sprint Cup Series, ARCA offers the opportunity to gain that experience.”
In regards to the composite car, ARCA Racing Series teams have the option to compete with showroom stock-appearing Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion and Chevrolet SS body packages, constructed with state of the art, composite laminate blend materials engineered to be lightweight and durable, and to resist deflection at high speeds. The ease-of-installation design allows teams to install the entire body in their respective shops, and to perform replacement of damaged panels at the team’s shop or at the track, resulting in significant savings in time and labor required for repairs.
The composite body project is part of an overall cost containment initiative for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. The project was conducted in conjunction with NASCAR and Five Star Race Car Bodies, and the body is also widely used by race teams in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West.
“As we continue to pursue cost-containment initiatives for our participants, we are pleased to bring this project to reality on tracks over one mile in length,” said ARCA President Ron Drager. “We’re proud to have been a part of this project with Five Star, and especially NASCAR, with whom we have had a constructive working relationship for over 60 years.”