It’s a long way from Fort Frances, Ontario to Austin, Texas—almost exactly 1,500 miles, in fact, depending on how you drive it. But in the grand scheme of Steve Arpin’s career, the distance between where he grew up and where he’ll debut the next phase of his career might seem borderline insignificant.
After all, Arpin is a racer’s racer, someone who’s competed in everything from dirt late models to bathtub boats, snowmobiles to stock cars, and just about anything else you can think of. From humble beginnings as his own engine builder in karting to his dual role as driver/general manager at Loenbro Motorsports, he’s found a way to link himself with two of racing’s most popular figures, driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in NASCAR and racing alongside Ken Block in the inaugural DirtFish ARX of COTA next weekend.
Arpin is a beloved figure in the racing world himself, and deservedly so. Always gracious with his time off of the track, he’s made numerous appearances on behalf of Racing For Kids and spearheaded charitable initiatives to help send sick and injured children to summer camp. His popularity was so strong in the final season of Red Bull Global Rallycross, in fact, that he broke Tanner Foust’s four-year stranglehold on the Supercar Fan Favorite Driver of the Year Award.
But don’t let all that distract you from the most important trait a racing driver can have: speed. And Arpin’s got that in spades.
In fact, it wasn’t the mighty, factory-backed Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross duo that produced the first two-time winner in GRC last year, it was Arpin. In his fifth rallycross season, he won two races in a 14-day span with back-to-back victories in New England and his home event in Ottawa. For his efforts, the sport’s top privateer finished a career-best third in the Supercar standings.
Add that to dozens of snowmobile and dirt late model and modified championships and feature wins he piled up as a young driver in the early 2000s, his USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year trophy from a decade ago, and plenty of heat wins and podiums in GRC—as well as Chip Ganassi Racing’s first win in the series—and it’s been an incredible ride so far for the Canadian.
Now partnered with Block and the Hoonigan media machine, Arpin aims to take even another step forward in 2018. It’s a perfect combination, as Arpin and the Loenbro squad apply the advancements they developed as a privateer GRC squad to the Focus RSRX, and Block leads the marketing and promotional charge. With both drivers proven winners at rallycross’ top level, they should have no problem taking the fight to the front of the pack next weekend.
And if last year’s results are anything to go by, it just might be Arpin standing atop the podium when all is said and done.