Auto Racing: Q-and-A with Matt Arvia
August 8, 2013 10:40PM
Matt Arvia | Kim Kemperman~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 10, 2013 6:16AM
Arvia, 34, resides in Griffith, Ind., and is a Dolton native. He has run pure stocks and turbo stox at Illiana Speedway since 2004. He and his wife, Crystal, have two daughters, Madelyn and Natalie. Arvia works as a foreman in the track department at Norfolk Southern.
Who got you your first ride?
I came out to Illiana and watched a pure stock enduro in 2004, called a buddy, he had a car and I bought my first car for $97. It was $100, but I spent $3 on lunch that day and didn’t have the whole hundred.
How was the experience?
My first experience was awesome. I came out here not knowing what I was doing and won my first heat. Two weeks later I won a feature. I won five features that year. It was a good time.
What about high school sports?
At T.F. South, I was a 4-by-1 (100) on the track team, and played football in grade school a little bit.
Were you a gearhead as a kid?
Yeah, my dad took me to Raceway Park all the time. We lived 10 minutes away from Raceway, and that was it. I was around 18, 19 years old when it closed. I never got to drive on it.
You’ve never been a points chaser?
No, that’s never been my thing. It’s the fun of it. Nobody is going to NASCAR here. We’re all just out here having fun.
Don’t tell that to (late-model driver) Paul Shafer Jr.
Well (laughing), when you’re 16 years old you’re going to NASCAR. But when you’re 34, you’re not going to NASCAR.
What’s the most memorable moment of your racing career?
Winning an enduro at the Milwaukee Mile in 2010. I got to go to victory lane at the mile, where countless real race car drivers have been. I won $250, and we spent it all at the bar across the street. I had to go ask the promoter to give me my money to pay the bill so I could get out of Milwaukee alive.
What about racing gives you your biggest kick?
A lot of people don’t believe it, but I like the camaraderie. I like the relationships I have out here. I hardly talk to anybody I talked to before this. I’ll come out here and finish fifth, sixth or maybe black-flagged once in a while. This is my group now. These are my friends.
As told to Tony Baranek