Whether it’s in one of NASCAR’s national series or whenever he gets the urge to strap into one of his Late Model racecars, Kyle Busch never shies away from a challenge. That’s why he’s been so successful, to the tune of 115 career NASCAR victories in the top-three divisions and he’s won some of the most prestigious short track events in the country.
Now, Busch will be tackling another challenge head-on when he battles with some of the country’s top short track racers, plus some of his fellow NASCAR stars, in the ARCA Midwest Tour’s Swiss Colony Howie Lettow Memorial 150 presented by RaceTeamGear.com on July 8 and 9 at Wisconsin’s famed Milwaukee Mile.
The Lettow 150, part of the ARCAFest event at Milwaukee, already has an entry list 80-strong, chock full of big names from the NASCAR and short track worlds. With the addition of Busch to the impressive lineup, the second edition of the Howie Lettow Memorial could very well be the most star-studded short track event in recent history.
“I think it’s a cool event to have Late Models racing around a big track like Milwaukee,” said Busch. “The Howie Lettow Memorial is a neat race just because of Howie and everything that he has done for the Super Late Model racing community and being at a lot of the premier short tracks around the country over his years. I think that’s why a lot of people enjoy going there and racing in his race.
“Last year, it was a really good race, there were a lot of cars and there was some good competition and some good racing. It was pretty good to see that all happen and it was great to see the Milwaukee Mile come back to life. It was a track that my dad grew up at and went to a lot when he lived in Chicago, seeing IndyCar races and NASCAR race there for years when he was growing up.”
Busch is no stranger to the Milwaukee Mile, nor the track’s victory lane area inside its hallowed infield. The 28-year-old from Las Vegas, Nevada, won the ARCA Midwest Tour event at Milwaukee in 2008, battling door-to-door with another fellow NASCAR champion and a star from the short track ranks.
“Matt Kenseth and I battled each other for the win throughout the first segment and in the second a little bit,” recalled Busch of his Milwaukee Midwest Tour victory in 2008. “Then Chris Wimmer kind of came out of nowhere and finished second. It was a cool race. I had a lot of fun there. The groove definitely moves around and it’s a neat racetrack that you get to race around with these cars.”
Early in his career, Busch cut his stock car racing teeth in the now-defunct ASA National Tour. It was there that he first met Howie Lettow, a legendary crew chief and a driving force behind the success of several of Busch’s contemporaries now on the NASCAR scene.
“I did get to meet him when he was David Stremme’s crew chief in the ASA series and then again when he was working as a development crew chief when Kelly Bires and Stephen Leicht were driving that car. I went to a test one time and saw a couple guys running around there. Seeing some of that, getting to talk to him and just seeing how smart he was. That was where he was happy. He was happy in the Super Late Model ranks and he didn’t really want to go much further than that. That’s what he dedicated his life to and that’s what he enjoyed doing.”
In addition to his triple-digit wins and championships in the highest ranks of the sport, Busch has a lengthy resume when it comes to short track racing. He’s a winner in the Super Late Model scene’s most prestigious races such as the Snowball Derby, the Winchester 400, the Oxford 250 and the Slinger Nationals. Now, after being unable to participate in last year’s debut of the Howie Lettow Memorial at Milwaukee, Busch will have a chance to add another short track all-star event to the trophy case.
“I think it’s fun to race with the best local or short track racers across the country,” said Busch. “That’s what I enjoy most about going to some of these races. The atmosphere and the ability to race against that talent that you may never see at the top level, but you know they’re great at what they do. They work hard at what they do and it’s something that they’re passionate about. You get a lot of chances to meet and race against these guys as competitors. Some you make friends with, some you make enemies with, but it’s still about the talent level and there’s so many out there that you get to race against and try to beat.
“We were absent (from the Lettow 150) last year just due to scheduling constrictions and we weren’t able to get our car together. But I look forward to getting back up to the Milwaukee Mile this year and be able to hopefully repeat what we did the last time we were there and we won and be able to bring another trophy back home to Kyle Busch Motorsports.”