Arpin down, but not out

What would you do?
Throw away five years of blissful marriage because of three weeks of hardship, or would you stick with the love of your life?
That’s a question facing Steve Arpin, but he’s in no hurry to sign the divorce papers with his racing fling. Instead, he will be in the garage this week working at his relationship with his 2,650-pound “partner.”
“We’ve had about five years worth of goods, and you’ve got to get some bads once in a while,” Arpin reasoned.
Spoken like a truly dedicated husband.
The 21-year-old has been married since a young age when his love affair with racing first began in the form of go-kart racing, and he plans to stay married for a long, long time.
He’s had his share of checkered flags, but the past couple of weeks have seen discouragement and frustration where there once was initiative and passion (not to say those have been replaced).
Take last Thursday at the renowned Cedar Lake Speedway in Wisconsin.
Arpin’s car had just been given a makeover with the installation of a new Wagamon Bros. engine (one of his many sponsors) in Minneapolis and he couldn’t wait to take his girl for a ride.
Everything was looking good, but then. . . .
“The car was awesome and I honestly think we would’ve won the race,” Arpin recalled. “But going into the corner, a guy lost a fuel pump belt and we were about four wide and four deep and we just had nowhere to go, and I hit him at about 100 m.p.h.”
“We were pretty much discouraged that night,” said Arpin’s dad, Chuck, who mentioned they didn’t get home until eight a.m. after leaving the speedway at around midnight.
Then his relationship hit another speed bump Saturday night at the Emo Speedway, where it had all begun for him.
The track supervisor called for the cars to head out for hot laps and Arpin obliged, but his car was being stubborn.
“We lost a head gasket and went out for the hot laps,” he noted. “It’s a brand new car and it wasn’t handling the best, so I pulled into the infield and then came in and did a compression check and two cylinders were dead.
“We really need those cylinders,” added Arpin, who had been working with his dad on the car until 2:30 a.m. the night before.
So then the call came into flagman Dave Allen during the heats for the Midwest Mods. “Arpin wants to know if he has time to change his engine?” asked track president Sharon Trimble.
Allen gave the nod.
“We blew the motor, and guys came over and stopped watching their kids race to give us a hand in changing the motor,” noted Arpin, who saw the engine replaced with another they had stored in their custom-built trailer in an unbelievable time of less than an hour.
So everything looked good, right? Wrong.
Arpin came out in the 15-car feature and was close to the back, which was fine because he’s a threat from wherever he is on the track, but it took only a few laps when his “girl” started getting a little warm.
“I think what happened is that in our rush in putting the motor in, I think the thermostat was sticking and the car was getting warm, so we came in for some water,” said Chuck Arpin.
When Arpin headed back onto the track, he found himself a lap down, but that didn’t faze him. What did faze him was what he found coming out of Turn 3 only a few laps later.
“I tried to pass a guy on the high side, and came around the corner and there he [Ron Anderson] was,” recalled Arpin, who was frustrated with not being able to finish the race but was not visible about it.
So where has Lady Luck been for you?
“I don’t think any luck has been on my side lately. Ladies or not.
“I mean, whenever you don’t finish a race, you get discouraged,” Arpin added. “At home, there’s a little more pressure to try and do well, but we failed.
“But you’ve got to take the good with the bad.”
And Arpin has had his share of good so far this season.
At Cedar Lake Speedway, he is the points leader in a field that has more than 100 cars with 369 (13 better than Joey Jensen, who is in second place).
Not bad for a 21-year-old, wouldn’t you say?
“He’s had a darn good season, but the last few weeks he’s just had some terrible luck. And as hard as it is, we’ve just got to persevere and pull through it,” Chuck Arpin said as he looked at the broken car he had spent the whole day and previous night preparing.
“It isn’t as bad as it looks, but it’ll be around three or four nights of work,” he added.
At least you only have to drive 20 minutes to get home tonight instead of eight hours.
“It would be kind of fun to stay here for a while instead of running all over the countryside,” Chuck Arpin agreed.
So why don’t you?
“The racing here is great, but there’s not a lot of cars simply because it’s a small community and when you get into the larger centres, you get around 100 cars there a night.
“It’s just more competitive racing.”
The season is far from over for the Arpin crew—and hopes are still at an all-time high. But the past few weeks have been difficult ones to bear. And until they turn around, which shouldn’t take too long, Steve Arpin will have to find solace in other ways.
“I’m just going to go and cry in my beer tonight,” he said.
Cheers to that.