Veteran east Tennessee racer Skip Arp recently got some very good news. The Georgetown driver learned that he will be inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame next August prior to the running of the North/South 100 at the Florence Speedway in Kentucky.
“I know it’s a big honor but the only problem with that is you’re getting old whenever that happens,” Arp declared with a chuckle. “But it’s great. I feel like we’ve been around a long time and I don’t know if I deserve that or not, but it’s an honor to be in it. We’ll see how it goes, but now we’ve got a good excuse to go back up there and race.”
Arp remains very competitive on the Late Model scene here locally and regionally, but admits that racing does not occupy as much of his time as it once did. The former touring series regular now opts to stay closer to home and make shorter trips to the racetrack than he once did.
“We don’t travel like we used to when we went up and down the road running Hav-a-Tampa and UDTRA,” Arp explained. “That was a lot of fun and we were a lot younger back then. I don’t know if I could ever do that again, but we had a lot of fun and won a lot of races out on the road in different places. It was a pretty neat deal.”
But just because he isn’t as young as he used to be and doesn’t travel as often as he used to doesn’t mean that he is ready to give the sport up. Arp still enjoys getting on the track and the competitive feelings that experience provides for him. He isn’t planning on stepping away from racing just yet.
“I think about that every day,” the driver admitted regarding retirement. “I feel like as long as I can be competitive, I’ll keep doing it. I’m not one who wants to go just ride around to make a show. If we feel like we’re competitive and still running good, I’m going to stay at it until I think we can’t keep up.”
Arp’s Hall of Fame career began at an early age. And while some things about the sport have remained the same throughout his time in racing, other things have changed.
“I started when I was 15 and I’m 51 now so it’s been several years,” he recalled of his beginnings on east Tennessee dirt. “I didn’t do it full time in all those years but we did race for a living for several years. It’s a lot tougher now than it was then. I still enjoy it but it’s a lot harder than it used to be. It’s hard to get help and it takes a lot of money.”
Arp believes that the biggest change he has seen in those years of racing has been the advancement of technology in the sport. Modern day engineering has radically changed the way things are done now compared to when he first began.
“Years ago, the driver was what made the car go fast,” he explained. “I’m not taking away from no driver, but the technology, the shocks and springs are a lot different from what they used to be. Now everybody’s got dynos and you’ve just got to have all that to be competitive anymore.
“The engineering of the cars is the biggest change,” he continued. “I don’t do it full time anymore and I don’t get to test and practice. You’ve got to do that to stay up with everything. We’re actually talking about racing more next year and doing more testing. It takes that anymore and having somebody who’s really good on shocks is what will make you run fast.”