Skip Arp called it a career in 2018 after 40 years behind the wheel. Two years later, car owner Stanley “Beaver” Best offered his former driver a ride again. Best had a brand-new Rocket Chassis late model ready for Arp.
“Beaver said he would sell everything related to racing if I didn’t come back and drive for him,” Arp, 57, of Georgetown, Tennessee, said. “I told him that I missed racing, but I needed to see if I could still drive.”
Arp talked it over with his wife, Janice, who has been with him throughout his career. They decided to return to racing.
“She’s been with me through thick and thin, and hasn’t divorced me yet,” said Arp. “We both missed the people we knew while racing.”
Arp returned to the cockpit of a race car at I-75 Raceway in Sweetwater, Tennessee, for their Topless Outlaws Dirt Late Model Series event. The National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame inductee struggled, finishing in 18th.
“I was rusty — no doubt about it,” Arp said. “I couldn’t make the same lap twice — it gets tougher when you get older. But, I felt like I had never been out of a race car.”
Arp said he needed to get back into shape.
“My head, neck, arms, and back needed to get used to racing,” said Arp. “I’m not into workouts. The only workout I do is at the dinner table, shoveling in food.”
For their second outing, Best and Arp ventured to Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tennessee, for a limited late model race. This time, they won.
“I’ve never tried drugs, but many who may have told me racing is a worse addiction,” Arp said. “It probably wasn’t very smart for me to get back behind the wheel because it felt so good. Racing is hard to get away from.”
Skip Arp looks to continue racing, heading to tracks close to his home, such as Smoky Mountain Speedway and 411 Motor Speedway.
“If I feel good and I’m competitive, I’ll keep racing,” said Arp. “I look to guys like Billy Moyer and Ronnie Johnson for inspiration. They’re still getting around pretty good.”
This year marks the Outside Groove Director of Photography’s 50th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.