Home Other Sports News The 2022 ARCA Menards Series Was A Diversified Success At Phoenix Raceway

The 2022 ARCA Menards Series Was A Diversified Success At Phoenix Raceway

Photo Credit: Yulanda Gilliam Courtesy of 4.0 Sports
AVONDALE, AZ – The ARCA Menards Stock Car Series kickoff will be held tonight at Phoenix Raceway. Like the Camping World Truck Series in Las Vegas, the ARCA Menards Stock Car Series is considered a minor semi-professional league of stock car racing, it is a feeder series that leads into the NASCAR headlining events. Hailee Deegan and Joey Logano are among the few drivers who gained their start from this series.

ARCA stands for Auto Racing Club of America which was founded by John Marcum in 1953. The racing series has changed its name a multitude of times from 1986 – present.

1986-1991: ARCA Permatex Super Car Series

1993-1995: ARCA Hooters Super Car Series

1996-2000: ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series

2001-2009: ARCA RE/MAX Series

2010-2011: ARCA RE/MAX Series (RE/MAX and Menards joint sponsorship)

2011-2019: ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

The race debuted in 2020 at the Phoenix Raceway of which thriving stock car driver Chandler Smith won that contest and fellow driver/self-team owner David Gilliland won thereafter in November that same year.

The General Tire 150 was more diverse this season than in years past with more women burning rubber on the raceway. Three of its women participants were #25 Toni Breidinger, #30 Amber Balcaen and #88 Bridget Burgess along with driven African American racer #61 Rajah Caruth.

Photo Credit: Yulanda Gilliam Courtesy of 4.0 Sports

Toni Breidinger:

Toni Breidinger, 21, is on the road to becoming the first Arab American female driver to compete in a NASCAR national series. Along with race car driving, she is a model in the Bay Area.

Breidinger gained her start driving go-karts when she was nine years old with her twin sister Annie who’s following in her sister’s tracks. It was their father who taught them the basic skills that would later mold them both to enjoy their passion and thrill for the sport leading to the onset of Toni’s career with ARCA (2018 and 2021) driving then under Young’s Motorsports on a part time basis where she began at Daytona International Speedway. She currently drives with Venturini Motorsports competing in ARCA and raced part time in the Camping World Truck Series.

She also tried out for the W Series in 2019, a racing contest exclusively for female drivers from around the world alongside Natalie Decker. She made it to the top 50 finalists but was later cut from the program. On Friday’s General Tire 150 race at Phoenix Raceway, Toni’s pole position was 10th and she finished 15th overall.

Photo Credit: Yulanda Gilliam Courtesy of 4.0 Sports

Amber Balcaen:

Amber Balcaen always had a love for racing. As a young girl, she trained on dirt tracks leading to her first female championship win in her Canadian hometown of Manitoba though her big break came in 2016 when she caught the attention of NASCAR Drive for Diversity, a program designed to target minorities and women offering diverse opportunities in the sport.

That same year, she made history as the first Canadian female to win the NASCAR Motor Mile Speedway competition and now drives for Rette Jones Racing competing in NASCAR’s national ARCA Menards Series and part-time in both the East and West divisions.

“This is, honestly, what I’ve worked toward my entire career,” the 29-year-old said from her home in Charlotte, N.C., a dream she always hoped for. “It’s been a long road, a lot of hard work to get here, but hard work pays off.” She finished 30th overall at the 25th pole position in the General Tire 150 series.

Photo Credit: Yulanda Gilliam Courtesy of 4.0 Sports

Bridget Burgess:

Bridget Burgess is no stranger to wheels. After relocating from Brisbane, Australia, to Los Angeles chasing dreams of competing in motorsports, she began her career in short course off-road racing later evolving to speedway racing pursuing her path to NASCAR. Her mom, Sarah Burgess raced for many years but retired to focus on Bridget’s success. In 2020, Bridget entered the ARCA Menards Series West division working under her family-owned team BMI Racing and continuing to do well for herself coming in at eighth place at Sonoma Raceway. She also had a top 10 at Colorado National Speedway and recently made her return racing full time with ARCA.

Rajah Caruth:

Rajah Caruth, the driven 19-year-old from Washington DC is in his second year of racing and doing quite well for himself behind the wheel. Since his rookie break at the Bojangles Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway, he’s earned two top 10’s ending 13th in the Semi-pro points. He is the first African American driver to win at the Tri-County Motor Speedway, currently driving full-time in the ARCA Menards Series and gearing up for his debut in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Alpha Prime Racing on April 2nd at Richmond Raceway.

After this evening’s General Tire race in Phoenix during the ARCA Menards Series competitions, he started out 7th and finished 4th. Due to a caution flag and going in overtime, he wasn’t able hold onto the 2nd place spot or the win but proved he can ride with the big dogs.

Photo Credit: Yulanda Gilliam Courtesy of 4.0 Sports

Rajah received the 2021 Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award at the Legacy Gala NASCAR Hall of Fame celebration. “To have the support of the Scott family, it’s a lot of responsibility to receive it,” Caruth told NASCAR.com. “I mean, it’s only year four for me, so it means a lot. I’m excited to add to that legacy and do what I’m supposed to do on and off the racetrack.”

“We couldn’t be more proud of the success that Rajah’s had in his development,” Brandon Thompson, NASCAR’s Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, told NASCAR.com. “Him winning the Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award was really just the next natural progression in his development as a driver. What he was able to do over the past couple of years in the weekly series, to be able to notch four wins coming right out of a racing simulator, essentially, is huge.”