The Champion Racing Association (CRA) is intended to be an economy series for racers in th
For years the Midwest was a hotbed of stock car racing, with ARCA being formed in 1953 as the Midwest's answer to NASCAR and an alternative to USAC's stock car division.
The American Speed Association (ASA) dominated the Midwest's stock car action beginning in the late '60s, and ARTGO held sway in the upper Midwest from the mid-'70s.
Then, slowly, things began to change.
First, USAC, after almost 30 years of being the top dog in Midwestern stock car racing, killed its stock car division, through a series of missteps. USAC at one time rivaled NASCAR for supremacy in stock car racing.
ARCA elected to turn itself into NASCAR Junior and mirror the Cup schedule as a support vehicle for any of the NASCAR divisions while running fewer of its own traditional dates.
The American Speed Association started in 1973 as a venue for the Super Late Models that were running weekly shows across the upper Midwest.
Initially, ASA pulled drivers from the fast half-mile tracks in Michigan, Northern Illinois, and Wisconsin. Very quickly, ASA became the place to be for the hot drivers in the area. Throughout its heyday, ASA probably sent more drivers to NASCAR's elite divisions than any other racing series.
NASCAR Nextel Cup champions Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Alan Kulwicki, Matt Kenseth, and Jimmie Johnson, along with drivers Johnny Benson, Tony Raines, and Johnny Sauter, all spent time on the track with ASA.
Tight racing and close competition is considered one of the upsides of racing in the CRA.
The demise of ASA began at the corporate level when the sanctioning body's television partners, who had been televising all of the races nationally, started merging and being sold to new entities, and the television package was canceled.
ASA founder Rex Robbins eventually sold the series to car owner Steve Dale and a group of investors, who tried to keep the series moving forward but failed miserably. The low point for ASA came in the fall of 2004, when management was unable to pay the racers after an event at Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS).
Speedway Motorsports, parent company of LMS, impounded ASA's vehicles and equipment and eventually paid the racers. ASA folded its tent at the end of the year.
ARTGO was formed in 1975 by Art Frigo and John McKarns as a venue for all of the top Chicago-area drivers to compete under a single format. The sanctioning body was an immediate success, with 49 drivers showing up at the Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Illinois. The group quickly evolved into a major rival for ASA and drew top drivers from NASCAR and ASA to ARTGO's major events.
ARTGO was eventually sold to NASCAR, and the series was renamed the RE/MAX Challenge Series and operated as part of NASCAR's Elite Series. After over 30 years of competition, ARTGO died when NASCAR decided to shut the doors of the Elite Series at the end of the '06 season.
From the ashes of all of these great racing series arose the Champion Racing Association (CRA).
ARTGO's demise left a gaping hole for the Midwest's Late Model drivers, who had cars and teams but nowhere to race. The CRA filled that hole with its Super Series in 1997, and through a series of rules changes, the sanctioning body has standardized rules so that drivers from all over the country and from different sanctioning bodies can compete and be competitive on CRA's 16-race schedule in 2007.
Cars roll through tech inspection before hitting the track.
The drivers and teams that formed the backbone of the CRA Super Series actually began life in the late '80s under the guise of the Magnum Oil Indiana Super Late Model Series, and the cars were nothing like today's models. There were few rules governing the series except for tires and weight. Rules for the motors were pretty much wide open.
The series ran at places such as Salem, Winchester, and Anderson, Indiana. At Salem, the cars ran wide open on the high banks and raced dangerously close, with packs of 10 or 11 cars fighting for the lead.
Drivers such as Charlie Glotzbach, Jim Cooper, Kenny Tweedy, Bruce Hartlep, and Ric Tomasik were the early heroes on the circuit. Magnum Oil was the first sponsor of the series, and Kendall Oil took over as the title sponsor in the mid-'90s.
Things took a major turn for the better in 1997, after Action Entertainment took over Anderson Speedway.
Management wanted to put together an eight-race series in conjunction with Salem, Winchester, and Indianapolis Raceway Park, now O'Reilly Raceway Park (ORP).
While the cars weren't the powerful mirror images of old, they maintained a very similar appearance. This experiment proved to be a rousing success, and a full touring series was developed for 1998.
Glenn Luckett from Salem Speedway and Anderson's R.J. Scott formed CRA to sanction and manage that first year's experiment, and they were ready to take on the challenge of a touring series.
The first year had over 75 drivers competing in 16 races at six racetracks, with such drivers as Brian Ross, Kenny Tweedy, Matt Hagans, former Indy 500 driver Chet Fillip, and Canada's all-time leading stock car driver, Junior Hanley, leading the charge.