Skip Arp has accomplished a lot in Dirt Late Model racing, so much so that in 2015 the Georgetown, TN driver was inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame. So back in 2018 when he drove in what appeared to be his final race, the 57-year-old had a very fulfilling career to look back on.
But as it turns out, Arp was not done with racing after all. And on Saturday night at Smoky Mountain Speedway the legendary driver showed that he is still plenty capable of steering a Late Model machine as he drove his Stanley Best Motorsports Rocket Chassis to a Limited Late Model victory as part of the Iron-Man Classic event at the Maryville, TN. track.
“Any time you run good it really feels good,” Arp told InsideDirtRacing.com after his triumph on Saturday night. “It’s been a long time for me and I didn’t even know if I could still drive one of these things so it did feel good. They’ve got good stuff so that’s the reason I thought I’d try it one more time to see if I could keep up with these young guys.”
It was a bit unusual to see Arp driving a Rocket. For years, the driver campaigned in GRT Race Cars while at the same time building a special friendship with chassis builder Joe Garrison.
“I know and I’ve said it to a lot of people, I sure do miss Joe at GRT. When he passed away a little over a year ago now that really took the wind out of my sails about racing because he did so much for me, the race cars, and everything we done.”
The loss of a close friend hurt but the driver has come to understand that racing has changed over the years.
“I sure do miss him, but all these cars, they’re all good,” Arp explained. “I thought the GRT’s were good but the Rockets are as good as anything out there. It feels good but it’s all about the setup though. You’ve got to be right on the setup or you’re in trouble. Hopefully, if I can keep my head up in one of these things and not fall over, we can win another one or two.”
But if he was enjoying retirement, what brought Arp back to the track?
“It’s an addiction,” he confessed. “It’s terrible. I’ve really had a good time not racing, but I really missed it too. I’ve done it for forty years and I was missing it. I guess I just miss that challenge. I don’t want to go run bad just to see if I can do it.”
According to the Hall of Famer, the person sitting in the driver’s seat has become a smaller part of the racing equation than was the case a few years ago.
“But like I said, it’s all about the cars,” he confessed. “I’ve said it to a lot of people. It’s 90% about the car and 10% driver. If I don’t pass out driving this thing and the car’s good, I think we can go fast. You’ve still got to drive them, but it’s changed a lot. Back in the 90’s when we were travelling a bunch, there was a lot to do with the driver. I feel like it’s a lot to do with the engineer and the guys working on it now.”
Saturday night proved to a be special night for those who appreciate the history of Dirt Late Model racing as Arp was joined by fellow Hall of Fame member Dale McDowell as a race winner. At the same time, Arp also offered a nod to Limited Late Model runner-up Kyle Courtney.
“That’s good too,” Arp said of the Iron-Man Super Late Model winner. “Me and Dale have raced together a whole bunch. I knew I didn’t need to come back and be racing with those guys(Supers). I ain’t taking nothing away from these other guys(Limiteds). The young guy who was running behind me, they say he’s winning everything and he’s young. It’s hard to beat them guys.”
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