Written by: Jake Cianciosa
Darian Gilliam AKA BlackFlagsMatter, is a NASCAR YouTuber known for his cold takes, awkward pit road interviews, a supposed Twitter jinx, and low research videos bashing various parts of the sport we all love for clicks. His most recent video is just a 9 minute roast session of the ARCA Menards Series, considered the most entry level of the 4 official NASCAR stock car touring series. While the series is not perfect, there was no need for a 9 minute video featuring crashes and incidents, many of which were unavoidable to anyone who knows racing and understands how the sport works. So here is my measured rebuttal:
The first point Darian makes is the wrecks, this is done with his constant overuse of the cool-guy snarky term “ARCA Brakes”. The term is used by many when a driver piles into a crash from far back when they could have “very easily” stopped and avoided the crash, not just every time a driver crashes. Crashes are going to happen in ARCA. In fact as anyone who watches racing knows, the lower down the racing ladder you go the more crashes there will likely be. While ARCA is a professional series it’s important to remember a lot of the drivers are kids, not young drivers but 17-mid 20 year olds. When the guys at the top of racing are mostly over 30 and have all been in some form of a national series for over a decade, there is obviously a big skill and experience gap that is wider than some people seem to think. Gone are the days in ARCA where a driver ran the series for years and years racking up wins and dominating the championship standings. This is exclusively a feeder series now, young kids looking to climb the ladder and get to the top. This means that with less skill, less experience, and much more pressure than ever to succeed and succeed quickly, sometimes respect and common sense are thrown out the window for the sake of saving your career. It is now a world of go for the spot and wreck with a chance to win instead of a second or third place finish, especially in today’s times when winning means the world. This all ties back into wrecks. They will happen. Some will be avoidable as a result of dumb moves, some will just be racing deals, but they are going to happen regardless of what series you are watching and the lower you go the more you will see wrecks, simple.
The second point is one that I, as a race fan and recently a sponsor of a local short track team, is the “pay driver argument.” I have awful news for anybody that uses this as an argument for why ARCA, or any series is bad for that matter, all have racers that have some form of money. From the lowest of low 4-cylinder, all the way up to Hendrick Motorsports, the drivers are not broke. Racing is expensive and quite honestly for 99.9% of people who have ever driven a car, it is a money toilet. ARCA has pay drivers, Xfinity, has pay drivers, Cup has pay drivers, hell there are guys at my local track buying their rides from owners. It happens everywhere and will always happen as long as racing is around. I have no issue with people calling drivers pay drivers and sure there are drivers who should not be in their seats but if that was the reason the racing was bad then every series would have bad racing. My issue with the pay driver argument is every time a driver who has a little more money than most crashes, BFM and others take to Twitter saying things about how of course it is (insert slightly more privileged driver here) no matter how unavoidable the crash may be. This infuriates me as someone who knows racing and can see sometimes it is not always the richer guys fault. Drivers like that get scapegoated all too much and it ruins the reputation of a whole series.
Now let’s get into the good of the ARCA Series and why it does not deserve even half the hate it gets. Arguments against it like lack of respect, lack of car counts, and poor racing. All not great arguments and could be used for all of the NASCAR sanctioned series if your goal is to be nothing more than a hater. The best part about ARCA for me at least is the cost. There is not an official NASCAR national series that is as close to affordable to get in to as ARCA is, which makes it great for drivers with not a lot of money to look at sponsors and offer a national spotlight on FS1, something many sponsors demand. This means that drivers that do not have funding for the Truck or Xfinity series can get their foot in the door, get in front of a lot of eyes and showcase their skills to a huge crowd. You could make an argument that there are other potentially better options for grassroots racing like the CARS tour or the Whelen Modified Tour. While both are great choices, neither offer the viewership FS1 does, or chances to race (and gain necessary track experience) at places like Daytona and Talladega.
While ARCA does admittedly need some work and can always improve like all racing can, it in no way deserves someone with such a large platform and wide reach bashing the series for 9 mins tarnishing the hard work the teams, drivers, and crew chiefs put in week in and week out to try to put out the best product they can and race the best they can. The ARCA Menards series is growing and getting more drivers in with better talent and giving us a better racing to watch is what we need and we should not be bashing the drivers, teams, and others involved. If we want the golden age of committed drivers like Frank Kimmel, and more drama and entertainment back in the series, maybe the sport’s loudest voices can do more than consider the series a lost cause for their own selfish benefit.