Venturini’s Celebrating 30th Anniversary

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Max Gresham (25) and Brennan Poole (55) drove a pair of Venturini Motorsports entires at Salem (Ind.) Speedway in 2011. (ARCA Racing Series Photo)
Max Gresham (25) and Brennan Poole (55) drove a pair of Venturini Motorsports entires at Salem (Ind.) Speedway in 2011. (ARCA Racing Series Photo)

JOLIET, Ill. – Venturini Motorsports, in its 30th Anniversary Season of ARCA Racing Series, is heading home to celebrate.

The family-owned team, which grew its roots in Chicago, Illinois, has entered six cars for the upcoming Ansell ActivArmr 150 at Chicagoland Speedway Saturday night, July 21.

In addition, Chicagoland Speedway will be honoring the Venturini family’s racing achievements throughout the race weekend.

Commemorating the celebration, Venturini Motorsports will feature special throw-back paint schemes on its fleet of race cars. Special paint schemes will include Bill Venturini’s championship colors from 1987 and 1991, the ‘Electric Blue’ car driven by Billy Venturini, and more.

The Venturini family racing legacy actually began in 1950 with Bill’s father, the late Tony Venturini, who raced jalopies at Chicago’s Soldier Field. From there, young Bill caught the racing bug and never looked back, forming Venturini Motorsports in 1981 alongside his wife and co-founder Cathy Venturini.

The legacy grew with the birth of their children Billy and Wendy, both of whom work full-time in the racing industry today.

“It’s a big honor to be recognized for our racing achievements, especially in our hometown,” said Bill Venturini, a two-time ARCA national champion. “We’ve got so much going on with six cars entered, which makes it even more exciting. It’s going to be very nostalgic to bring back all the old paint schemes. Even the numbers, although they’ll all be different, will have a retro look to them with the old style we used back then.”

Cathy, the matriarch of Venturini Motorsports, is still very much involved coordinating travel plans and preparing meals for six teams at the same time, not to mention so many other race weekend connectors.

“But it’s going to be fun; I’m really looking forward to it. Venturini Motorsports is going to be very well prepared for this race, and I couldn’t think of a better place for success than what we still consider our home track,” Bill added.

Bill, whose grandparents emigrated from Italy in the early 1900s via Ellis Island, eventually migrated to Chicago where he would grow roots in the “Windy City”. Bill also learned early on that if he was truly going to make it in auto racing, he was going to have to pick up stakes and move the family again.

“We moved to Charlotte in 1993. We had to if we wanted to survive in racing.”

And survive they have, fielding full-time ARCA teams for a wide variety of racers, including their son Billy, who made 162 ARCA starts over 13 years before he decided to climb from the driver’s seat to a team leadership role. Since then, the team has grown into the largest driver development team in ARCA averaging five cars at each event in 2012.

Bill’s daughter Wendy Venturini has also carved out a respectable career in motorosports as a television analyst for NASCAR and ARCA on SPEED.

While Wendy designed her own career in racing, the core Venturini Motorsports organization has become one of the go-to teams for driver development, winning with eight different drivers since 2006, including a victory with Billy at Salem Speedway in April of ’06.

NASCAR veteran Joey Logano drove to Victory Lane in a Venturini-prepared car at Rockingham in 2008, and again at Pocono in 2009, marking Logano’s career-first win on a superspeedway.

Steve Arpin, who won back-to-back in Venturini-prepared cars at Salem and Texas in 2010, also delivered-up the first win on dirt for the Venturini team with a victory at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in September of 2010.

Brennan Poole, the current ARCA Racing Series point leader, is the most recent winner among the drivers who compete with Venturini Motorsports, earning back-to-back victories earlier this year at Pocono and Elko. Poole also won in a Venturini car in his ARCA Racing Series debut at Salem in 2011.

In all, Venturini Motorsports has earned 26 career ARCA Racing Series victories with nine different drivers. Bill earned his career first ARCA victory on June 18, 1983 at Flat Rock Speedway in Flat Rock, Mich. Ironically, the win occurred during ARCA’s 30th anniversary season, and the race was appropriately titled, “30th Anniversary 100”. Thirty years later, Venturini Motorsports would celebrate its 30th Anniversary Season while ARCA would celebrate its 60th.

The list of drivers entered for Chicagoland from the Venturini stable includes Poole, Nelson Canache, Kevin Swindell, Ryan Reed, Tom Berte and Mark Thompson.

Other festivities surrounding the celebration at Chicagoland Speedway include the reunion of the team’s acclaimed Ultra Blue Crew, the first all-female pit crew in professional motorsports, which was used exclusively during Bill Venturini’s first ARCA championship in 1987.

“We got a hold of at least 20 of the gals that helped us on the Ultra Blue Crew. We couldn’t find some of them but we did our best to reach out to as many as we could. We should have as many as a dozen coming to help us celebrate, which should be really cool. They won’t all be there at the same time and the same days, but we’ll be glad to have them no matter when they’re able to come.”

The Ultra Blue Crew will join Venturini Motorsports for a special Chicagoland Speedway trackside party on Thursday, July 19 featuring a special musical performance from Jaclyn North, the 2010 American Idol semi-finalist and winner of the Texaco Country Showdown. The party will take place inside the track on pit road and will include 5,000 season ticket holders and members of the media.

Chicagoland Speedway will also host a pre-race concert Saturday afternoon from 12 noon – 2 p.m. featuring Jaclyn North and Nashville Recording Artists, The CJ Solar Band, on the main stage in the Fan Zone on the track’s concourse.

As an ancillary accolade, Venturini Motorsports has been recognized and voted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (NIASHF) and will be inducted later this year as part of the class of 2012. The Venturini family members included on the list of sports figures being honored at this year’s NIASHF induction ceremony include the late Tony Venturini, Bill Venturini, Cathy Venturini, Billy Venturini and Wendy Venturini for their collective contributions to the motorsports industry.