Arnie Knepper Memorial Scholarship
the St. Louis Auto Racing Fan Club
A $500 scholarship will be presented annually to a student in the High Performance Racing Technology program at Ranken Technical College in St. Louis in memory of Arnie Knepper. It recognizes the winning student’s commitment to the motorsports industry and will be based on grades, teacher recommendations, and questions.
The Knepper Family and the Fan Club’s goals are to present this award annually and eventually have it be self-sustaining. If you would like to be a sponsor of this scholarship award please contact an officer or board member.
Ranken students will find an application available at the school.
Arnold “Arnie” Knepper
Arnie lived and breathed racing from his hometown, to Japan, and to the ultimate in motorsports, the Indy 500.
He was a racer, teacher, craftsman, and family man whose attitude saw him through challenges both on and off the track.
During his five decades behind the wheel he raced stock cars, midgets, sprints, “Big Cars” (now called Silver Crown), and Indy cars. He competed with AAA, IMCA, MARA, NASCAR, SLARA, and USAC among others. He raced the legends of his sport from Mario Andretti to Buck Baker, Jimmy Clark, A. J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, Graham Hill, Jim Hurtibuse, Lee Petty, Jackie Stewart and the Unsers.
As a teacher he taught mechanics at Beck Vocational School and he shared his knowledge and love of the sport at every opportunity including as a member of the Champion Spark Plug Highway Safety Team. As a consummate craftsman he constructed most of his own race cars and motors. If you were interested in becoming a part of racing (be it photographer, official, or even a competitor against him) he’d work shoulder-to-shoulder with you to help you achieve your dreams and goals, but stopped when you stopped because he wouldn’t do the work for you.
Along his journey he was joined by his wife Wanda (no slouch as a race car mechanic herself) and their children Peggy, Art, and Tina. Then again it was always a family affair as Arnie came from a racing family. His father, Butch, and his four brothers, Ollie, Al, Ray, and Walter Knepper, Sr. were all involved in racing except Al. Walter’s son “Junior” (or Arnie’s cousin) is an open wheel legend in his own right, and has since been joined at the track by his son Steve, and grandson Nick.
Arnie’s attitude in life carried him through some of the toughest challenges he faced. After being severely burned during a race in Langhorne, PA in 1967 he left the Brooks Army Hospital in San Antonio, TX in six weeks, less than half the time predicted by the doctors. He also went several rounds with cancer. When the disease took the strength from his hands he learned and created new things from wood (instead of the welding and metal work he was accustomed to). When he didn’t have the strength for any tools he learned to embroider and made a quilt about his favorite sport, racing.
His accomplishments, people skills, attitude and love of his family and hometown are why he is remembered each August during the St. Clair County Fair as a dedicated and generous man of many talents. Join Arnie’s family and friends in celebrating the unparalleled 35-lap feature that is the Lucas Oil POWRi National Midgets Arnie Knepper Memorial (first held in August 1992).
© By Eileen Waters