Getting to know Ronnie Sipka, body man and painter in the Nos. 5/88 shop
CONCORD, N.C. (April 2, 2010) – Most race fans wouldn’t recognize Ronnie Sipka, but they know and sometimes collect his artwork. The Rhode Island native is one of several shop members in the Nos. 5 and 88 shop at Hendrick Motorsports who paints the Chevrolets driven by Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Meet Ronnie:
Full name: Ronnie Sipka
Hometown: Born and grew up in Coventry, R.I.
Education: Scituate Senior High School in Scituate, R.I.
Team/job duties: I am a body man and painter for the (Nos.) 5 and 88 teams.
Time at current job: Five years. I used to travel to the track. I ran gas on the No. 5 team and took care of the body and decal work on the (Nos.) 5 and 88 cars. I did that for about two years.
Favorite paint scheme he’s painted: The very first hand-painted camouflage car for Dale Jr. at the July Daytona (Fla.) race in 2008. My second favorite is the AMP Energy Re-launch car that we raced at Charlotte (N.C.) in the fall 2008 race.
What type of music he listens to while painting the cars: I listen to heavy metal on my iPOD when I am in the body shop prep area.
Years in racing: 10 years.
First racing job: I did body and paint work on a pro-stock car that raced at Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway
First job overall: Service writer at a Honda dealership. When people brought their motorcycles in to be worked on I did the paperwork. I got to ride a lot of cool motorcycles when the customers weren’t around.
If he wasn’t in racing he would be: Working in a body shop somewhere in R.I.
Best racing memory: First win in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour with Dave Bergman driving a car that I worked on (used to be called NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour up North) or our first Cup win with Kyle (Busch) at Bristol in March 2007.
Favorite Driver: Bugsy Stevens (His real name was Carl Bergman, he started racing when he was in the military and since the military frowned on racing, he used the alliance “Bugsy.” Bugsy won the NASCAR Modified Championships in 1967, 1968 and 1969. He never finished below sixth in the NASCAR National Modifies point standings.)
Favorite track: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. I like it because of all the beating and banging—gives me job security. And I have a lot of good memories there.
Favorite sport other than racing: Hockey. Both college hockey and the National Hockey League. College hockey is more intense, and they really play hard all the time. My favorite team is Boston University. They have won the Beanpot Tournament so many times.
One thing people don’t know about me: Allen Bestwick is my cousin, so he and I grew up together.
On an off-weekend you can find me: Doing yard work around the house, and spending time with wife Christine and my son Lucas.
Pets: Three dogs (one Dachshund and two black Labrador mixes) and two cats.
Favorite movie: “Caddy Shack” or “Major League.”
Favorite publication: Racer Magazine.
Favorite music: Heavy metal. Always was and always will be. Kiss is my favorite band.
Dream car: 2010 Chevrolet Corvette.
Cell phone ring: “I’m Bad” by The Last Vegas.
What you’ll find on my iPOD: Heavy metal. I like a lot of different music but my choice is heavy metal.
If I could meet anyone, I’d meet: Ray Bourque (Boston Bruins). I played left wing in ice hockey up until high school.
Favorite food: Home-cooked Italian food. There’s nothing better than spaghetti and meatballs.
If I ran NASCAR, I’d: Put a road course in the Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup). The Chase is 10 races, and they have everything but a road course. They have an intermediate, a superspeedway and a short track. They should have one of every style to make it fair.
I knew I wanted a job in NASCAR: Ever since I was a little boy. My dad had a race car. I was born with racing in my blood.