For football players, it’s Lambeau Field in Green Bay. For baseball players it’s playing at Wrigley Field in Chicago or Fenway Park in Boston. For open wheel competitors it was racing at Indy on Memorial Day weekend. For many short track drivers, especially those in the Midwest, it’s racing at The Milwaukee Mile.
The track known as “America’s Legendary Oval” will once again host ARCA Fest with the Howie Lettow Memorial 150 ARCA Midwest Tour event highlighting a weekend full of racing, classic cars and monster trucks on June 6-8th.
Since 1903, the famous oval located in West Allis, Wisconsin has hosted at least one auto race every year. For the past three years, it has hosted only two sanctioned series, the ARCA Midwest Tour and the Indy Car Series.
This year’s ARCA Fest moves from a Tuesday night event to a full weekend of on and off track activities around the property.
For many short track competitors, the opportunity to just race at The Milwaukee Mile is a special opportunity to race at a place where names like Foyt, Andretti, Unser, Wallace, Waltrip, Gant, Fittipaldi and many, many more have logged laps in the 111-year history.
“Being from Wisconsin, growing up we would go to NASCAR, ASA and ARTGO events at The Mile,” 2007 ARCA Midwest Tour Champion Nathan Haseleu said. “Every time we go, it was a special thing to do, now that we get to race on the track, it just means more. I like the history of racing and for me, it’s a big deal to go there and race.”
In 2006, Haseleu took that feeling of racing at The Mile up to a higher level by going to victory lane winning a Wisconsin Challenge Series 50-lap event.
“When I won at The Milwaukee Mile, it was only the second time I ever raced there I think,” Haseleu recalled. “I only have a few trophies sitting out for everyone to see and that is one of them.”
Travis Sauter also grew up watching races at The Mile and is a third-generation racer not only to race there, but to also win there.
His grandfather, Jim Sauter, won an ASA National Tour race on July 8, 1984. His father, Tim Sauter, won a NASCAR Slim Jim All-Pro Series on July 2, 1994. His uncle Johnny Sauter won a NASCAR Nationwide Series race on June 25, 2005.
On June 12, 2012, Travis Sauter won his first race at the historic oval by winning the inaugural Howie Lettow Memorial 150.
“That was the best race of my career, my biggest win and most fun,” Travis Sauter said. “It was also a little surprising that we won that race, because I didn’t think we were going to make the race. That alone made it more special. We worked hard to get ready with the thought of what we had to do just to make the show and we did more than what I thought we were capable of doing.
“I still think about it to this day. I want to do it again but will be tough with the competition that typically comes to race at The Milwaukee Mile.”
It’s not only veterans that enjoy racing at The Mile but the young talent see racing there as a major step up compared to tracks they are used to racing at.
“It was a lot different than where I have raced at in my career,” Ty Majeski, who recently finished third in the ARCA Midwest Tour event at State Park Speedway in Wausau, Wisconsin, said. “I am used to racing at tracks that were a half-mile or smaller and The Mile was a lot bigger. It felt like I was going slower because of the long straights and sweeping turns. Heck, I could probably eat a cheeseburger going down the straights at The Mile compared to what I am used to at short tracks.”
“I grew up playing racing games on my Playstation and remember The Milwaukee Mile was one of the tracks in the game. It’s a lot different in person then actually behind the wheel.”
Majeski ran in the first Howie Lettow Memorial in 2012 where he finished 21st.
“I was really excited to go and race there, especially with the history and racing in honor of Howie Lettow. He was a special guy to the racing community. It was great to experience the whole atmosphere.”
Whoever wins this year’s event knows that their name is going on a list that already has a who’s who in auto racing.
To race at The Milwaukee Mile is special…to win at The Milwaukee Mile is historical.