TOLEDO, Ohio – official series release by Don Radebaugh — ARCA Archives photo —
Roulo Brothers Racing goes way back with the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards tour — back to the mid-1980s when they first showed up on the scene.
It didn’t take the Midlothian, Illinois-based rookie team long to find Victory Lane, taking its first win at Cloverleaf Speedway on July 5, 1986 with Bob Strait in the driver’s seat. Over the years, the Roulo Brothers have won 36 ARCA races with nine different drivers (1986-2013), grooming drivers for success, more wins down the road, and, ultimately, championships, as in the case of 2012 ARCA national champion Chris Buescher, who won 10 races in Roulo Brothers machines before he earned his NASCAR XFINITY Series title in 2015.
But it wasn’t just Buescher who they helped get there.
Case in point: David Green’s ARCA win at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville in 1992 in the iconic No. 39 Pedigree Food for Dogs Chevrolet.
“I remember quite a bit from that race,” said Gary Roulo, longtime crew-chief and car owner for the family team. “We were using multiple drivers throughout the year, trying to fill the entire race schedule. We had already raced against David Green in ASA and the All Pro Late Models, so we had seen him drive. He was out of Owensboro (Ky.) and we knew he had done well in the local area. He was working as a body guy for Bob Labonte … as a shop employee.”
“I had to get Bob Labonte to give David permission to take time off work to come and drive for us. We didn’t test … David met us at the track. We were fastest in practice … made some small changes … it was a really well-balanced race car.”
In fact it was so “well-balanced” that Green lapped the entire field including second-place finisher Rick Sheppard. Third on back were three laps down or more.
“That race … that win catapulted David Green into the Slim Jim ride (NASCAR Busch Series) and ultimately the Busch Series championship. If not for that day at Nashville, he might have been a body guy for the rest of his career. Up till then, David hadn’t driven anything for a year.”
Roulo remembers more.
“Great crowd … it was the July 4th holiday. I remember it being really hot. My brothers Chris and Russ were there, my uncle Ronald … our core group. Our grandmother, who was up in her ‘80s … she was originally from outside of Nashville … she came to the race; so it was a very memorable race for us.”
Roy Payne edged Green for the pole and led the first 25 laps; but once Green took over on lap 26, he never relinquished the top-spot, leading the final 175 laps. It was pure, unadulterated domination — a good old-fashioned whoopin’.
And, despite the heat, there was not a great deal of attrition that night. Of the 33 drivers who started the race, 25 were running when the checkered flag waved. Sheppard finished a career-best second, followed by Dave Weltmeyer, Glenn Brewer, Dave Simko, Mark Thompson, Payne, Bob Keselowski, Jerry Huffman and Eric Smith in the top-10 order.
“We were just really able to get hooked up and go. I’d like to have a few more like that.”
Actually, the Roulo Brothers had more than a “few more like that” over the years.
When they put Ken Schrader in the 39 car at Toledo Speedway in 1997, he led 96 of 154 laps and lapped the entire field. Blaise Alexander was the closest to Schrader, one lap down.
There was also the day at Toledo in early 2010 when an unknown rookie named Chris Buescher got in the Roulos’ car, led 126 of 200 laps, and won the race. It was the first of 10 wins that Buescher would win under the Roulo regime, including three more at Toledo, one on the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds dirt mile, another at Michigan Int’l Speedway, and the most recent one on the Road America road course. The victory at Road America helped reenergize Buescher’s career, which ultimately led to a full-time Cup ride on the heels of his XFINITY title.
The Roulo Brothers remain one of the very few teams in ARCA history who have won on all types of tracks that ARCA competes on – superspeedways, short tracks, dirt tracks and road courses. From the car owner win column, only Iggy Katona, Larry Clement, Jack Bowsher, Harold Steele and Venturini Motorsports have more wins than the Roulos, and among the aforementioned teams, only Bowsher and the Roulos can claim wins on a road course.
In addition to the win at Road America with Buescher, the Roulo Brothers won on the Des Moines, Iowa Street Circuit in 1994 with Scott Lagasse, Sr. at the helm.
The Roulo Brothers have led 4,357 laps overall in 94 races. ARCA winners for Roulo Brothers Racing include Bob Strait, Ken Schrader, David Green, Dave Weltmeyer, Scott Lagasse, Sr., Joe Ruttman, Matt Hawkins, Chris Buescher and Corey LaJoie.
During the Roulos’ 2012 ARCA championship campaign, the team established a record by completing every lap of competition in every race during the 19-race season.
CREDIT: ARCA Racing Series