Steve Arpin is having the dream season so far this year, as he’s got his first ARCA win under his belt and a Nationwide Series deal with JR Motorsports.
For Arpin, the journey started back when he was little kid going to the local dirt track with his dad.
“I started going to the dirt tracks with my dad and watching dirt track racing with my dad and I’ve just loved it ever since,” he said. “When I was about eight years old, when I found there was a go-kart track that was about 45 minutes away, I just kind of worked my butt off for two years delivering newspapers and all that kind of stuff like that to try to save enough money to buy my first go-kart. By the time I was 10, I had enough money saved up to buy a go-kart and that’s where it all started.”
Arpin quickly showed that he had the talent as he started winning races at the go-kart and dirt modified level quickly, including a record that still stands today of winning every race at Emo Speedway for three straight years.
His success on dirt at Emo Speedway in Ontario and across the United States caught everybody's attention, including Sprint Cup Series veteran Mark Martin.
Martin was quoted saying on SB Nation that he’d pick Arpin against anybody on dirt.
“I didn’t know he said that till I heard Dale Jr. say that on national TV,” Arpin said of the quote. “It knocked the wind out of me hearing that. For Mark Martin to go out of his way and say something like that means a lot to me. He’s a guy with a lot of respect so you listen if you hear something coming from him.”
The beginning of 2008 was rough for Arpin, as he would suffer burns on his hands, thighs, and groin as a result of a radiator hose blowing off and spraying him with water.
Two months after he was healed and ready to go, he was offered the chance to drive a late model on pavement for the Schoenfeld Headers team out of Concord, N.C.
The transition from dirt to pavement wasn’t easy for Arpin—he had to forget most of what he knew about racing.
“The hardest thing was to forget all I knew on dirt racing that I thought would help on asphalt,” he said. “It was a real eye opener when I started running asphalt. Basically, you got to throw away 98% of what you know about dirt racing.”
Success with the Schoenfled Headers team led to a call from NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Carl Edwards who offered Arpin a USAC Silver Crown ride.
He continued having success as he took home Rookie of the Year honors.
This success caught the eye of Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR), where he drove the No. 20 Taylor Motorsports Toyota for the first half of the season.
However, this didn't work out and he made the transition to Venturini Motorsports.
“Before I signed up with Venturini Motorsports, I had talked to Bill Venturini a little bit and we really hit it off good,” Arpin said in speaking of how the deal came together. “But we were so far ahead with our deal with ESR that we decided to go with ESR and start in that direction and we really just kept in touch with Venturini. They just watched our performance and about halfway through the year when I talked with them, when my deal with ESR was up, we re-evaluated our program and we realized things weren’t going right there we decided to go with Venturini.”
Arpin ended the 2009 ARCA Season seventh in points and took home the Most Popular Driver award.
The 2010 season has been a big year for Arpin, so far as he has won two ARCA races this year (Salem and Texas) and currently sits fourth in points.
“I think of all the places to get your first ARCA win, Salem is just the coolest place in the world,” he said in reference to the first win at Salem. “Regardless, you’re going to absolutely love it but just the history and looking at who has run there and who has won there is absolutely unbelievable. There’s just so much history. Like, almost every driver that’s in the Cup Series has raced at Salem one time or another. It’s just a really cool place.”
Last week at Pocono he didn’t have the day he was looking for, as he qualified 14th and finished 11th.
“Frustrating —that’s the first thing that comes to mind,” he said. “We weren’t where we needed to be when we unloaded. We took a new car and it wasn’t good off the truck and we didn’t get the best qualifying effort. We should’ve been able to make it six more laps on fuel; we were under horse-powered all day. A lot of things just didn’t go our way.”
Michigan looks to be the right spot to turn things around as the test went well for Venturini Motorsports. Teammate Mikey Kile was at the top of the charts while Arpin was fourth.
“We had a really good test,” Arpin said. “We had such a good test that we decided to take a different car to Pocono. We didn’t want to take a chance at wrecking it with the quick turnaround.”
To those who are looking to get to Arpin’s level, he says stick with it no matter what.
“Don’t get down,” he said. “There was a lot of people telling me you can’t do it, it’s all about the money, but I stuck with it and went after it. If you know you can do it, then keep going after it.”