The 1995 season was historic for Andy Hillenburg. He won at Daytona. He won at Flat Rock. He won the ARCA Menards Series championship in a hard-fought battle with Bobby Bowsher by just 45 points.
But it almost didn’t happen.
Hillenburg kicked off the season with a win in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, his first career ARCA win in just his fourth series start. Driving for Ken Schrader, Hillenburg started in the middle of the field and avoided trouble throughout the day, taking the lead with seven laps to go. A caution for an accident in turns one and two would bring the caution out with two laps to go, securing the win for the Indianapolis native.
After the success at Daytona, Hillenburg – who hadn’t necessarily decided he was going to chase the ARCA Menards Series full-time throughout the season – decided to keep going. He fielded his own cars for the next races at Atlanta and Talladega, and he finished fifth and sixth respectively. That energized him enough to go short track racing at Five Flags Speedway, Kil-Kare Speedway, and Flat Rock Speedway, the next three races on the schedule.
With three-time ARCA Menards Series champion Bob Dotter calling the shots from the pit box, Hillenburg finished sixth, again, at Five Flags before a solid third-place run at Kil-Kare. The next week at Flat Rock, Hillenburg again started in the middle of the field in 12th position.
Bobby Bowsher jumped out to the lead from the pole, leading the first 12 laps. Then, Frank Kimmel moved to the front in Terry Shirley’s Oldsmobile, leading the next 118 laps before turning it over to two-time ARCA Menards Series champion and six-time Flat Rock Speedway winner Marvin Smith took the lead.
Smith would only lead for a single circuit before Hillenburg moved by to take the lead. Just as he did at Daytona, he stayed out of trouble throughout the 150-lap main event and was in position to challenge for the lead late in the race. Hillenburg held Smith, who would go on to claim his sixth win at the quarter-mile oval two months later, at bay for the final 19 laps to take his second win of the season.
It was that win that convinced Hillenburg that he should compete for the series championship.
Hillenburg finished the season with two wins, nine top-five finishes, and 17 top-ten finishes. He would go on to win again at Daytona in 1997, but he would never run a full season in any racing series again. His success at Daytona carried over into the NASCAR Xfinity series in 1999 when he finished third in the season opener driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. He made 16 career NASCAR Cup Series starts, including the 1998 Daytona 500. In 2000, he joined an elite club of drivers who have raced in both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 when drove his own car at The Brickyard, finishing 28th with a blown wheel bearing.
Hillenburg has since transitioned into team ownership and has over 630 starts with dozens of drivers. Hillenburg’s Fast Track High Performance Racing, the same team he won with at Flat Rock Speedway in 1995, will field cars for Zachary Tinkle and Ed Pompa in the Dutch Boy 150 at Flat Rock on May 20.
Advance tickets are now available at FlatRockSpeedway.com; adult general admission are $25, kids 6-12 are just $5, and children 5 and under are free. Please add a $1 service fee for each ticket purchased online.
For complete event information for the Dutch Boy 150, including live timing & scoring, please visit ARCARacing.com. For up-to-the-minute updates, please follow @ARCA_racing on Twitter.
ARCA Racing PR