As some of you may have noticed, I have a slight obsession with Red Bull GRC racing and their drivers. I was fortunate enough to interview one of the GRC Lites racers, Sandra Hultgren, last week to talk about her passion for racing and goals for 2017. Today I am lucky enough to share with you my rapid-fire interview with one of the best GRC racers, Mr. Steve Arpin!
Steve Arpin was born and raised in Canada where he learned the ins and outs of racing. He started out racing go-karts as a fun activity to do on the weekends when he wasn’t selling boats for his Dads company.
As he explained in our interview, growing up Steve didn’t really think of racing as something he would make a career in when he got older. “I wasn’t thinking about career mode, I was thinking my God does that look cool!” But what Steve and his father (also an avid car racer) quickly learned from those casual trips to the track, was how good Steve was behind the wheel; he definitely had the race gene in him!
Today, Steve Arpin races for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Red Bull GRC Supercar Series. Having an impressive racing record, Steve also participated in the X-Games 5 times for RallyCross and raced in the NASCAR series. Plus a little fun fact; Steve was a seven-time world snowmobile champion by the age of 18. I guess you could say he loves anything with a motor and horsepower!
Our interview with Steve goes beyond just racing, though. We wanted to know why he chose GRC racing, who his idol in racing was, how he stays focused, and any advice he would give fellow racers. Like his website says “He’s an up-and-coming star, frequently on the fan favorites list of drivers, and he’s ready to win big this year.” And with that, let’s get to our eight-question, rapid fire interview with Steve Arpin.
Steve Arpin Of Red Bull GRC & Our Rapid-Fire Interview
How did you get into racing? Was it something you’ve always wanted to make a career in?
“When I first got into racing, I was so young and to be honest I wasn’t thinking about career mode, I was thinking my God does that look cool. Growing up, my Dad was a local racer back home in Canada and we traveled a lot. My Dad owned a dealership selling fishing boats, snowmobiles, four-wheelers, and stuff life that. We lived in the most beautiful area in the world, right on a lake, but all week long with the business we were on the lake selling boats so on the weekends it was just so nice to get away and go to the dirt track. So, I grew up at the dirt track with my Dad and a new Go-Kart track opened nearby called Riverside Speedway, and that’s where it all started; I wanted to go racing.”
How do you prepare yourself before a race? Do you have a specific routine?
“I wouldn’t say there is necessarily a routine. One of my strengths, as a racer, is I’ve always been a realist racer. I don’t fall into the hype and propaganda. I fall into being my own toughest critique. So between races and before racing, I really look at what I’ve done that’s held me back. The other side of it is the fact that this is a team sport and I am at the shop full time, heavily involved with the race car. We understand what’s all going into it; the mechanics, the geometry, the physics of my race car, and that enables me to give better information back to my crew to be more efficient on the racetrack. That’s my go-to things- I beat myself up during the week and at the same time, I’m at the shop learning as much as I can to make sure I understand exactly what I need to do for the next race.”
Between snowmobile racing, competing in the X-Games for Rallycross, and participating in NASCAR, why have you chosen to remain in GRC racing?
“I am having so much fun!” That’s it. And the future the program has to offer, that’s the only form of motorsports in the U.S. that has been trending up three years in a row and it is awesome to be a part of growing with something. It is something I believe in, I am having fun, and it’s awesome!”
From previous interviews with other racers, I’ve found that sponsorships are the most difficult to acquire and maintain. As a driver for Chip Ganassi Racing and having multiple sponsorships under your belt, what is one piece of advice you would give other drivers who are looking to gain more sponsorships and how have you maintained such good sponsorships throughout your racing career?
“I think one of my strengths throughout my career is long lasting relationships and when we go different directions, the relationships are still there. The first thing I would say is, the bridges are really hard to build and never burn those bridges. It’s tough and is definitely the hardest part about being a race car driver. I’d say that I spend 98% of my time building new relationships and partners or maintaining our current relationships and 2% driving the race car. The biggest piece of advice I have is there is too much over promising and under delivering so don’t just look at your performance being the end-all be-all let that be the bonus, and look at the value those partners are getting by being associated with you and how you can actually create value for these brands you’re representing.”
If you could have dinner with any race car driver, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
“Dale [Earnhardt] Senior- and simply because he is just a bad-ass. I had the opportunity to drive with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and with that, I got to listen to some of the stories first hand about Dale Sr. They were absolutely remarkable. These are the stories you read about in the history books that I am getting to hear first hand about this legend. The quality of people they were and Dale Sr was, it would blow my mind if I were a fly on a wall seeing those stories happen first hand. Anything and everything goes back then- they were the wild wild west and I love it!”
What are your goals for 2017 and beyond? Do you want to remain in Red Bull GRC racing or do you have other aspirations?
“I say my full commitment right now is the GRC. We have a lot of things in the works right now. I would say in the next week or two you are going to see a lot of good information on our front about 2017. We’re interested in really picking up where we left off this year. 2015 was a learning year, first year in the sport, 2016 we performed strongly but we still have a lot of room to improve. I am looking forward to 2017 and making a strong move from 2016 to 2017 to perform at the top of the class.”
As a driver coach and spotter, what is the most common mistake you see drivers make and how do you help them overcome those mistake to become a better athlete?
“I would say the two most common mistakes are simply trying too hard, especially in young drivers, you see them not breathe, and everything getting tense and choppy on the steering wheel. Putting too much pressure on themselves in that moment, and not just relying on their natural talents, more so trying to impress everyone around them. I would say those are the two biggest mistakes. In motorsports, when you get to these high levels, I always tell these guy and girl drivers that you aren’t here by accident. Believe in yourself and know why you are here. Everyone has their own story, everyone has their own past, and everyone gets to where they are at in their own unique way. You need to look back on everything and believe in yourself and understand why you are there and have fun. The biggest thing in motorsports is having fun!”
ChicMoto is all about helping people understand their vehicle better. Being a race car driver you really need to know your car; especially as a GRC driver when you are flying in the air and hope to land correctly! In your opinion, what is the most important thing about any vehicle you should always know?
“Driving down the street in a regular car, I would say the biggest thing is knowing what is going on around you. Being at a comfortable place driving and understanding any situation you don’t have control over. As a race car driver, you have to know your surroundings but you are surrounded by a bunch of professional race car drivers so you are safer on the racetrack then you are on the road. I would say the biggest thing as a race car driver is understanding your race car. Understand the suspension and how it is working. The weather changes, the rubber on the track changes, so the track changes throughout the day. It helps the team to be efficient as possible with the changes to the track when you understand your suspension and race car and why things are happening.”
That ends our eight-question, rapid fire interview with Steve Arpin! His enthusiasm and passion for motorsports just shine when you talk to Steve. No wonder he is one of the most sought out interviews at the track. Steve shows full commitment 24/7 to his sponsors, to Red Bull GRC, to his car, to his team, and to his fans.
That is what racing is all about!