Where There's A Will, There's A Way; Will KimmelNext Generation Of Kimmel Racers Talks Family Legacy, Pocono, Modspace 125 Friday On Fox Sports 1
Where there's a Will, there's always a way. Determined to carve out his own road in racing, third-generation driver Will Kimmel is doing just that.
Racing in the shadows of his famous Uncle Frank Kimmel, a 10-time ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards champion, Will isn't bothered by it at all. In fact, he's quite proud of his family heritage.
"I'm very proud of my last name," Kimmel said. "I have a ton of respect for him (Frank). He's the best-ever to come through ARCA, so it's not a bad thing."
According Kimmel, his family legacy simply comes with the territory.
"You have to expect that when you come from a family like I did, you're going to follow in your family's shadows until you're able to make your own way. They had to come up in the shadows of my grandfather just the same way I've come up in theirs."
Kimmel is the third line of three generations of Kimmel racers that began with his grandfather Bill Kimmel, Sr., a racing legend in the late 1950's, '60's and '70's. Bill Sr., who turns 86 this September, won multiple track championships on dirt and pavement over the years at Fairgrounds Speedway in Louisville, Ky., Columbus, Ind., the Sportsdrome, and Richmond, Ky. to name a few. He was also the Kentucky State Dirt Track champ in '68.
And of course, Bill Sr.'s sons Frank and Bill, Jr. followed in their father's footsteps. While Frank went on to ARCA fame, Bill, Jr. won four consecutive Late Model track championships at Louisville Motor Speedway from '95 through '98.
Bill Jr. eventually hung up his racing helmet for his crew chief hat...crew chiefing his brother Frank to eight of his 10 ARCA national championships. When Frank moved on to ThorSport Racing, and now Win-Tron Racing, Bill Jr. carried on the Kimmel Racing team brand with his son Will.
"I think overall, Will's last name has given him more opportunities than some of the other kids, but at the same time, the expectations can be too high at times," Bill, Jr. said. "It can be a double-edged sword. We don't have the budget to race the way we'd like to, so it can go against you, but, overall, it's a good thing."
In fact, Will doesn't get to compete fulltime on the ARCA Racing Series tour, and never has, yet anyway.
To help support Kimmel Racing, the team fields Ford Fusions for SCOTT Rookie contender Michael Lira, who just turned 17 on July 16.
"Michael's doing a great job," Will said. "We're doing exactly what we set out to do...to go to these tracks he's never seen before and get him experience. We're not running for points, so each race is like a practice race for Michael. But when we do run for points with Michael, he'll be ahead of the curve. He's a good kid...comes from a great family...and really tries to pay attention and learn whatever information he can from everybody. I think it's going to pay off for him."
When the budget allows, Will runs a second car alongside Lira, which will be the case when the ARCA tour returns to Pocono Raceway for the ModSpace 125 August 1.
"Pocono's just a lot of fun; it keeps you on your toes," Will said. "It's got three different turns so it adds extra challenges we don't get anywhere else. I like it a lot better now that we run better there."
Will's father Bill serves as his crew chief.
"It works out well, most of the time," Will said of working with his father.
"It's not difficult and it's gotten a lot better. I've grown up a little bit to be honest, and that's helped a ton. And, he's usually right. He's been in these cars; he knows what's going on."
In addition to Will's part-time ARCA schedule, he's running a partial NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule with TriStar Motorsports in 2014. He's already raced at Phoenix Int'l Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway with plans to compete yet this year in Nationwide events at Chicagoland, Richmond and Charlotte. The Chicagoland event presents a challenge for Will, who hopes to compete in the ARCA race at Salem Speedway the night of the Nationwide race at Chicagoland.
"I'm not sure how we're going to do that yet; it'll require a plane, we know that much," Will added.
"As much as I appreciate racing with TriStar Motorsports, the Salem ARCA race is very important to me."
In fact, Salem, located a half hour from the original Kimmel family homestead in Clarksville, Indiana, is where all the generations of Kimmel racers cut their teeth. The track, where Will won a late model championship before moving onto the ARCA tour, holds special meaning for the entire Kimmel family.
"If I could choose anywhere on the ARCA circuit where my first win would come, I'd put Salem and Daytona at the very top of the list...either one."
Interestingly enough, Will's career-best ARCA finishes came at Salem (second in 2011) and Daytona (third in 2012).
When asked what tracks would come next on his wish list for wins, without hesitation, Will said, "Either mile dirt track in Springfield or DuQuoin would be next. That would mean the most to me.
"I wouldn't mind adding Pocono behind that either."
Kimmel, on the ARCA side and the Nationwide side, gets sponsorship support from Messinas, Ingersoll Rand and Circle Track Magazine.
Raceday begins with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 12:35 with the ModSpace 125 race event following at 5, live on FOX Sports 1. The ModSpace 125 race event also includes one practice session on Thursday, July 31 from 3 - 5. All on-track activity will be featured in live Timing & Scoring at ARCAracing.com.
The ModSpace 125 serves as the show-opener for a big weekend of racing at Pocono featuring the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 on Saturday followed by the grand finale - the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 on Sunday.
Tickets are on sale now at PoconoRaceway.com.