TALLADEGA, Ala. – Bobby Gerhart has long been considered ARCA’s king of restrictor-plate racing. With eight wins at Daytona Int’l Speedway and one at Talladega Superspeedway, it’s not hard to figure out why.
Gerhart’s 300th career ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards start comes this Saturday at Talladega in the 52nd running of the Int’l Motorsports Hall of Fame 200.
“It just turned out to be Talladega by chance, if you will,” said Gerhart, an ARCA regular since 1988. “If we would have planned this, we probably would have made one more start last year to make this year’s Daytona race the 300th, where we’ve had most of our success. But, as a milestone achievement, Talladega’s the next best thing for Bobby Gerhart Racing.”
It’s been a long, winding road for Gerhart, who turns 56 in late July.
“This is a very special weekend for me, and it’s really not about the 300th start, although I realize that’s a significant milestone,” he said. “My lifelong friend Joe Woelfling Sr. passed away yesterday. My stock car career came to be because of Joe. He, without question, got me my start. He was involved from the beginning. We were central-Pennsylvania modified racers. That’s what we did. We had just won a big modified race in 1981, and Mr. Woelfling was there. He was a big-time car builder, sprint car owner in Pennsylvania back then. Some of the best sprint car drivers out of Pennsylvania drove for Joe.
Gerhart’s car at Talladega will carry a commemorative decal for Woelfling.
Gerhart, who drives his own No. 5 Lucas Oil-MAVTV American Real Chevrolet, credits his long tenure to his faithful group of volunteers.
Gerhart made several NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts prior to his ARCA debut. Gerhart also continued to race on the Cup tour in the early days of his ARCA career. He’s also got several starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series tour over the years. In fact, Gerhart’s attempting the same-day double double-header this weekend at Talladega, running the ARCA race and the Aaron’s 312 Nationwide Series race soon afterwards.
“We sort of did this a little backwards over my stock car career. But, truthfully, I’ve never considered ARCA a development tour anyway. Whether you’re 16 or 66, people come to ARCA to race.”
That’s exactly what Gerhart has done in ARCA. In 299 career starts, he has nine wins, 55 top-fives, 118 top-10s and nine poles. Overall, he has led 833 laps in 33 races.
“We have a lot of great memories, some not so good memories, but we’re glad to have been able to do it as long as we have. I think back over my 30 years-plus in this business and I could tell you so many great stories, but there isn’t enough time right now to tell them.”
Gerhart is the son of multi-time Eastern Modified champion Bobby Gerhart Sr. Bobby’s brother, Bill Gerhart, has been his crew chief from the start of his career.