TOLEDO, Ohio — After 10 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards national championships and a heap of miles round and round, across the country and back again, Frank Kimmel knows he’s in the twilight of his historic career.
But that doesn’t mean he’s laying low.
Kimmel was wandering the garage area recently, taking in the sights and sounds of the 49th annual Snowball Derby earlier in the month. However, Kimmel had to switch up his travel plans to Pensacola at the last minute on account of a new addition the Kimmel family.
His daughter Holly gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Paisley, on Nov. 29.
“Paisley decided she wanted out six weeks early … so we’ve been worried about her, but so far, so good. Thanks for everyone’s thoughts and prayers. It’s so exciting … so exciting for Holly. As soon as we got word, her mom came down immediately. She’s six weeks premature, but she’s just perfect. Everyone’s doing really well.”
“It was just so unexpected to have her come when she did. It kind of put a monkey wrench into our travel plans with Paisley coming, but when the news is that good, you don’t mind a bit.”
From the excitement of welcoming their first grandchild into the world, Kimmel flew down to Pensacola where he met up with his son Frankie.
“Frankie was really busy with his Dartfish deal and I’m was kind of down there, scoping out the new talent coming up. We were there through the race on Sunday, then we drove back home.”
“Back home” for Kimmel these days is a temporary headquarters in Salem, Indiana where he’s been busy “piddling” around his shop, building race cars for the locals.
“(I’m) just piddling around lately … built a street stock from scratch and doing a ‘front-wheel’ roll cage for a guy. Can’t do a lot … I’m working out of someone else’s shop. I don’t have my own shop right now.”
However that should soon change for Kimmel, who’s in transition from one home to the next.
“We sold our house (in Borden, Indiana) so we’ve been temporarily living in Salem. Sometime over the Christmas-New Year’s break we plan to make our move to Charlotte. (Wife) Donna wants to be there as soon as she can to help with Holly and Paisley.”
The Kimmels purchased property in Mooresville (N.C.) with the intention of building a home. The actual building process had not yet begun as of the first week in December.
“I didn’t want to start building until I’m down here and can watch over it. We’ve also actually been looking around for a home we could buy if we decide to go that route. Saw some houses we really like. With Paisley coming so early, we may need to be closer to Holly. We already bought the property in Mooresville, but even if we did buy a home, we may keep the property anyway and build later.”
Now 54, Kimmel understands that his impending retirement is just ahead.
“Nobody’s knocking my door down as of now so I guess I am (retired),” he laughed. “Even if a friend came along and offered to put me in a car somewhere, I’d encourage them to put Frankie in the car anyway. I get more enjoyment out of that. But if I was able to give (Frankie) a good ride in ARCA, that’d be my first choice.”
Looking back on his amazing career of 10 titles, 80 career wins (most all-time), 43 poles (most all-time) and more than 11,000 laps-led, Kimmel has become more reflective in his most recent days, weeks and months.
“I’m amazed when I look back,” the veteran admitted. “I remember at one point, I didn’t think I’d ever win an ARCA race. Then Jack Wallace put me in a car and we got going. Once Terry Shirley decided to run a couple ARCA races, things started progressing. Then we won a race and I was thrilled just to do that.”
“Then Larry Clement opened a bigger door with better equipment and we started winning some race and some championships. When I think back, it’s hard to grasp it all, but it all makes me really happy … I’m just very blessed.”
CREDIT: ARCA Racing Series