Hector Arana Sr. is making his 315th start in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class this weekend and only Steve Johnson (432) has made more appearances in the two-wheel class. Arana can vividly recall the early days of his career in the late 1980s when he came to the races with his bike loaded in the back of a van. Much has changed since those days but one thing that has not is Arana’s passion for the spot.
“I still love it; I really do,” said Arana. “It’s so much different now than it used to be. I used to show up with just one of everything and now I’ve got a whole trailer full of spare parts and equipment. Over the years we’ve just had to adapt. We’ve learned how to use all the resources that are available to us. You can’t sit still in this sport. You always have to keep moving forward.”
Arana rolled out a new chassis at the Las Vegas four-wide race earlier this season. The bike was built in Brownsburg, Ind., at the Lucas Fabrication Shop run by Top Fuel racer Richie Crampton. Arana and the Lucas team built the bike last September and finally figured they have enough data to race it competitively. The advantage, Arana says, is that the new bike and the sleek EBR body is very similar to the set-up run by his son, Hector Jr.
“We have the same stuff now and that helps us when it comes to tuning,” Arana said. “This bike doesn’t feel too much different going down the track but its more controllable. It responds to the changes we’re making to it.”
So far, it’s hard to argue with Arana’s results. Coming off a solid qualifying effort two weeks ago in Richmond, he’s secured another top-half qualifying spot this week in Chicago with a 6.849 that is good for the No. 5 spot, one place behind Hector Jr.
“We didn’t change a thing after Richmond,” he says. “We just made adjustments for the weather and the track. The engine is the same. We had some issues with this bike and that hurt us for a few races. We fought really hard to fix it and it was frustrating but we eventually figured out the problem and that is when we started running better.”
Arana will turn 61 later this year but he’s not even thinking about retirement.
“Like I said, I still love what I do and I’m not ready to give it up,” he said. “Racing with my son is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. I still feel good and as long as I’m healthy and feel like I can be competitive, I’ll be out here.”