The Moyer name is one of many that has been synonymous with success in the ARCA Menards Series since its inception in 1953.
During the early 1980s, Larry Moyer found a home with ARCA and quickly rose to prominence while piloting his yellow No. 11 Pontiac. Larry only competed on the platform for two seasons, but still managed to permanently etch himself into ARCA history by narrowly claiming the 1981 championship ahead of Marvin Smith.
Over four decades later, Larry’s son A.J. Moyer is seeking to reach the same heights in ARCA through the formation of his own team, Moyer-Petroniro Racing. The 2024 season will see Moyer compete in several races in the No. 88 with support from Randy Petroniro Sr. and Jr., the latter of which is serving as his co-driver and co-owner.
Moyer anticipates dealing with pitfalls that normally befall new teams, but he believes Moyer-Petroniro Racing gives him his best opportunity to excel in ARCA ahead of his fourth season on the platform.
“We’re feeling confident,” Moyer said. “We’ve got good equipment, a good support system and we have experience. The goal is to put all of that together and have a solid first showing at Daytona for sure.”
The path Moyer has embarked on with ARCA so far is slightly different compared to the one his father experienced.
Instead of contending for a title right away, Moyer has exercised patience while driving part-time for car owner Wayne Peterson. The best result Moyer has scored in 22 ARCA starts came during his debut appearance, a ninth-place effort at Toledo Speedway in 2021 while driving a car that honored his father’s 1981 title.
Moyer knew Peterson’s equipment would not match up against powerhouse ARCA organizations like Venturini Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing. Despite this, he cherished his time with Peterson and departed the program with plenty of knowledge.
“Wayne is a great guy and mentor,” Moyer said. “His team was a great steppingstone to get to that next level like we’re doing now. He taught me a lot and gave me the opportunity to get a top-10 in the first race with him. We capped everything off with a seventh-place championship effort and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Once he felt confident enough in his ability to branch out from Peterson’s organization, Moyer spoke with the Petroniros about starting a new venture. Following his father’s passing in 2011, the Petroniro family became a vital part of Moyer’s career and have assisted his racing endeavors since his time as a Pro Tuck competitor.
Randy Sr. is no stranger to finding success in motorsports. Along with supporting Moyer, Randy Sr. also sponsors several Modified teams in the Northeast and has been a sponsor of World of Outlaws standout David Gravel since he started racing quarter midgets at eight years old.
Team ownership is a step Randy Sr. knows Moyer and Randy Jr. will be ready for, especially with the equipment and resources everyone involved has acquired during the offseason.
“This actually all started at the NASCAR banquet in Nashville this year,” Randy Sr. said. “There was an opportunity to buy a nice car and we got the commitment from A.J. We had fun last year, but wanted to take it up a notch and we think we’ll be good enough to run with the pack.”
Everything is proceeding as scheduled for Moyer-Petroniro Racing to immediately be competitive. The No. 88 will have an Ilmor engine in the opener at Daytona International Speedway, while Moyer is working diligently to secure several sponsors alongside established partners like River’s Edge Cottages & RV Park and Ampere EV.
Moyer-Petroniro Racing’s current plan is to operate on a part-time basis with Moyer competing in the seven superspeedway events and Randy Jr. focusing on short tracks. Moyer has not ruled out expanding the team’s schedule if they open the year with several strong finishes.
No expense has been spared by Moyer and the Petroniros to quickly get up to speed ahead of their first season together. Optimism is prevalent within the shop, but Moyer hopes the dedication to building up Moyer-Petroniro Racing during the winter is on display at Daytona.
“We’ve got the right people, the right equipment and all the right pieces,” Moyer said. “Dewayne Ellwanger is on board for Daytona and he’s a two-time Indy 500 (champion) spotter. There’s a lot of great people involved and everyone wants to see us win. That’s what we’re pushing to do, but it all comes down to putting everything together and making it successful.”
Having speed will be paramount for Moyer-Petroniro Racing at Daytona as they battle 49 other cars for 40 positions on the starting grid.
The strongest ARCA field in recent Daytona history poses many challenges for Moyer ranging from just qualifying on time to keeping the car out of trouble. Moyer would love to pull off an upset like Greg Van Alst did in 2023, but said having an intact car for their next race at Talladega Superspeedway would be a significant moral victory.
Daytona is always a special time of year for Randy Sr., but he feels a sense of pride in seeing his son there as an ARCA co-owner alongside Moyer. While he understands a victory might not be a realistic goal for Moyer-Petroniro Racing on February 17, Randy Sr. hopes the race serves as a momentum booster for long-term success.
“I’ve been going to Daytona since 1986 and haven’t missed a year,” Randy Sr. said. “I’ve been taking Randy Jr. since he was sitting on my lap at four years old. Of course I’d love for us to win [at Daytona], but I’d be very happy with a top-10 finish and show some progress. We like to have fun, but the objective is to win.”
Moyer also feels elated ahead of Daytona knowing that months of preparation are about to culminate in a passion like the one his dad possessed when arrived at Daytona more than 40 years ago.
“This is a dream come true,” Moyer said. “Like every kid who follows racing, I always dreamed of racing at Daytona. River’s Edge helped me do that last year, so to go back to the World Center of Racing this year with an opportunity to be competitive is beyond anything that I thought would happen.”
No matter how Daytona turns out, Moyer is proud of what he has built with the Petroniros in a short amount of time. He intends to carry on his father’s brief but successful ARCA legacy by establishing Moyer-Petroniro Racing as a perennial contender on the platform.