By Phil Whipple,
RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer. Photo By: LAD Photography
ALVARADO, Texas — While many of the top-tier Modified racers across the great state of Texas are quietly going about their business, one driver in particular is all up in arms.
As in, he's running the USRA's American Racer Modified Series (ARMS), and having a blast in the process.
For 35-year-old McAllen native Michael Walker, the ARMS provides exactly what he's looking for in hobby level racing. Always busy with work and family, Walker has run all but one race on the series in 2021. In 13 starts, he's earned one win, three top-five and five top-10 finishes. He's a proven winner.
“I have priorities in life, starting with God, my family and work,” Walker said candidly. “So the ARMS deal is a perfect fit for me and the amount of time I have for racing. It's fun, exciting, and all the guys who run it are pretty respectful.
“When I have time to put into the racing program, it shows. That win at Superbowl Speedway was very special; those are times to really savor. But to be truthful, racing is still a hobby. I love racing the ARMS deal because it pays well, and it's very well run. There are 15 to 20 cars that can win there.”
Like so many others in racing across Texas, Walker first got exposed to our great sport by his father.
“My Dad started racing back in 1982 in the old Bomber class,” he explained. “He is a mechanical genius; there is no problem he can't solve. I got my start in 1999 driving a Mini Stock at Rio Grande Speedway in McAllen. Around the 2003-2004 time frame, I got a Limited Modified.
“We did pretty well in the Limited, but in 2011 I sold it and bought my first Modified from my brother-in-law. It was an older car, built in 2008, but it was still a good piece. We got the most out of it that we could. In late 2019, I bought the car I'm running now. You need newer equipment these days to be competitive.”
Walker ran the Touring Outlaw Modified Series (TOMS) in 2020, and says his program was improving.
“I was sort of a part-timer in this sport right up until 2019,” he said. “I just never had the time to put into it, especially once I started raising kids and having a busy family life. But last year, I jumped into the TOMS deal full time. It was really a breakout year for me, but it just wasn't a very good fit.”
If you sit down to watch any of the ARMS races shown Live on SpeedPass (and we've had several), you'll soon notice the intense level of competition within this series. Walker says it's off the charts.
“There are a lot of really good drivers with top-notch equipment in this series,” he said with emphasis. “But what's really nice is that as super competitive as it is on the track, there is a great camaraderie in the pit area, which leads to friendships and a greater respect for each other out on the track.
“We all have good money invested in our cars, so we go to race, not beat and bang. In the ARMS tour, they expect clean, hard-nosed racing and that's what we do. We run hard every race, while driving with respect. If it isn't your night, you take notes, and move on to the next event.”
When Walker suits up, puts on his helmet and gets ready to compete, he climbs aboard a top-notch car.
“I drive a 2020 GRT chassis, and I absolutely love it,” Walker explained. “It's powered by a 414 cubic inch engine from Pro Power with USMTS Spec Heads on it. It makes great power and is all I'll ever need. It's reliable and hasn't given us any issues at all. This combination is working very well for us.”
Along with 22 years of experience in the sport and that awesome race car, Walker also has several key people working behind the scenes to ensure his program stays active and successful.
“First and foremost, I need to thank my Lord and Savior Christ Jesus,” Walker said. “He has blessed me and my family beyond measure. It is so awesome knowing we have hope and peace. I also want to thank my wife, Katie, for all she does; my mother and father, Jeff and Joanna Walker, for their support right from the start; and Chris Carroll, who really helps me out with chassis setups. My Dad and Chris have been so instrumental in the success of my racing career.”
“I also need to thank Triston Dycus for all his help since I've been living in the DFW area. He has gotten me out of several binds throughout the years and helped me become a better racer. I want to thank Brett and Danny Vaubel for letting me use their shop and tools when needed; the Gaddis family for spare parts while on the road; along with Troy Taylor, for lending me a flywheel to make the RPM races. I'll also give a big thanks to all the guys racing in or involved with the USRA's American Racer Modified Series. They make going to the track more enjoyable.”
Walker also has a full compliment of marketing partner on board that keep his car rolling.
“I'm very fortunate to have support from several great companies, including MW Investments, Walker’s Reliable Auto Service, in McAllen, TX; Carroll Construction in Spring Branch, TX; Lane Concrete & Excavating in Keene, TX; Xtreme Graphics, for being quick and professional; and Warren Wright with IM Race Fuels, for delivering fuel to the house. I couldn't do this without them and greatly appreciate all they do for me.”
With the 2021 season quickly drawing to a close for most teams, Walker knows what he has left to do.
“We have a couple more shows to run with the ARMS gang,” he said. “We have the inaugural Cowboy Up Classic coming up at RPM, then we'll have the Nationals. I'm active with my son and daughter's Karting program now, so we'll run those last two and give it our best shot.
“I'm planning to run all of the ARMS points races next year, so we'll try to get us a few more wins.”