Steve Arpin put on two breathtaking performances during the Borderland racing season’s biggest two nights at last weekend’s Rainy River District Fall Fair.
The 17-year old Fort native captured feature wins in both Friday and Saturday’s feature, fighting through the 22-car field, a bevy of out-of-town drivers looking to take home the “Arpin bounty” with a clean win, and the home district pressures of a packed Emo Speedway grandstand.
And he delivered.
He started Saturday’s race with 12 cars ahead of him after finishing third in the heat #4 and slowly passed cars from the inside, despite the number of yellow caution flags waved on the packed track.
By the 16th lap Arpin had found his way in second behind leader Chad Jonson. Arpin tried passing him on every turn only to be kept at bay by Jonson, that is until the very last lap when Arpin gutted one more drive on the last stretch to eke out Jonson by a hair of a fender.
“I just can’t believe we got both of [the feature wins],” noted an exhausted Arpin among a throng of well-wishers afterwards. “I didn’t think I was going to catch Chad.”
Arpin said he and his father Chuck Arpin Sr. usually scout the track during the intermission–a strategy that’s paid off in spades.
“We were just looking to see where the bite was on the track so we could see kind of know where to set up on,” said Arpin. “And just right off the bat, we just waited until things kind of thinned out.”
Jonson was officially erased from the final placings after the International Falls native failed to check in his car before the race.
Before being notified of his disqualification, Jonson said he was certain he was the clear leader as he rounded the last lap.
“I didn’t think anyone was that close behind me. I saw the white flag come on and I took it easy that last lap and then there [Arpin] was,” said Jonson, who finished seventh in Friday’s feature. “I figured I was ahead by quite a ways.”
It was a mistake he made thinking about the extra money with the bounty.
“That’s what went through my mind, exactly,” he added.
Arpin gave credit to Jonson for playing it safe at that point.
“That’s good on his part, usually when guys get to the last lap, they run too hard and usually blow an engine or spin out,” he said.
“One of the advantages I have is that it’s my home track. Chad comes here once and a while but he doesn’t race here as often as I have. I know how low you can go and how high you can go. I’ve been over the limit both ways,” he added.
For fans who attended both shows–the Friday being a bonus show put on by Borderland racing for the fair–Saturday’s dramatic finish was a mirror image of Arpin’s other feature win, this time with 11 cars behind him. He caught and passed Brian Nelson and Kevin Randell for the checkered flag.
Arpin now has won 11 of 14 modified feature races ran this year. He suffered suspension problems and pulled out of the Aug. 4 feature which snapped his nine-week win streak. The bounty is still on his head because he hasn’t been cleanly beaten since the second week of the season.
Even with all his success, the third-year racer was still in awe of the overall spectacle of the Fall Fair races–races he had enjoyed as a child.
“It’s a really big deal to me. I’ve never won a race at the Emo Fair before,” he said. “There is lot more of rush with the crowd and the cars. It’s huge and I couldn’t believe it.”
Richard Visser took home the checkered flag in Saturday’s street stock feature on a default. The race was cut short just after six laps when major delays within the 22 cars racing threatened the evening’s curfew.
“I’ll take a win no matter how you get it,” he said. “It takes five to ten minutes to reorganize after a yellow flag. It can be pretty hard to keep track when you’re out there.”
Visser admitted the track has a lot of trouble holding a high number of cars and said the organizers should have thinned out the field for the feature.
“It was a bit much,” he noted. “I would take a little less money to run less cars.”
He added the real thrill was being able to race against his son-in-law, Don McCready, and son, Anthony, in the same race for the first time.
Aug. 17 results
Heat #1-1. Steve Ridlon (#7R) 2. Kyle Ridlon (#15) 3. Jason Strom (#1)
Feature-1. Jason Strom 2. Kyle Ridlon 3. Steve Ridlon
Heat #1-1. Don Craig (#97) 2. Dave Jensson (#35) 3. Howard Teeple (#47)
Heat #2-1. Darien Trimble 2. John Bosma (#21B) 3. Anthony Visser (#11)
Heat #3-1. Ron Westover (#15) 2. Denny Trimble (#66) 3. Kendal Gamsby (#29)
Heat #4-1. James Simmons (#27) 2. Larry Gordon (#03) 3. Don McCready (#6)
Feature-1. Don Craig 2. Howard Teeple 3. Richard Visser (#25)
Heat #1-1. Ron Korpi (#41) 2. Jake Kamm (#88) 3. Ken Anderson (#5A)
Heat #2-1. Murray Scott (#15) 2. Kevin Randell (#89) 3. Rod Angus (#35)
Heat #3-1. Gavin Paull (#16) 2. Steve Arpin (#00) 3. Tom Smart (#61)
Heat #4-1. John Coppock (#99) 2. Kevin Sexton )(#57) 3. Kevin Monteith (#3D)
Feature-1. Steve Arpin 2. Brian Nelson (#181) 3. Kevin Randell
Aug. 18 results
Heat #1-1. Ken Perry 2. Kenny Perry (#77) 3. Kyle Ridlon
Feature-1. Ken Perry 2. Kyle Ridlon 3. Steve Ridlon
Overall points leaders-1. Jason Strom (623) 2. Kenny Perry (633) 3. Ken Perry Sr. (578) 4. Kyle Ridlon (576)
Heat #1-1. Eric Hari (#34) 2. Darien Trimble 3. Richard Visser
Heat #2-1. Don Smith (#30) 2. Howard Teeple 3. John Bosma
Heat #3-1. Darryl Desserre (#85) 2. Ron Westover 3. John Faucett/Andrew Piilo (#13)
Heat #4-1. Don McCready 2. James Simmons 3. Jake Hassbargen (#14)
Feature-1. Richard Visser 2. John Bosma 3. Shane Korkola (#55)
Overall points leaders-1. Jake Hassbargen (644) 2. Kendal Gamsby (616) 3. Ron Westover (615)
Heat #1-1. Jake Kamm 2. Roland Denzler (#78) 3. Wilf Denzler (#77)
Heat #2-1. Len Allen (#4A) 2. Tom Smart 3. Murray Scott
Heat #3-1. Bill Reimer (#18) 2. Mark Davis (#85) 3. Brian Nelson (#181)
Heat #4-1. Dwayne Pihulak (#307) 2. Kevin Monteith 3. Steve Arpin
Feature-1. Steve Arpin 2. Chad Jonson* 3. Kevin Monteith 4. Dwayne Pihulak
Overall points leaders: 1. Steve Arpin (667) 2. Gavin Paull (620) 3. Vic Larson (606)
(*Jonson disqualified for not reporting in car)