After starting his racing career on California's dirt tracks in the 1970s, Skinner progressed to the asphalt Late Model wars in the eastern United States before gaining NASCAR fame in the newly launched NASCAR Truck Series. About the same time, he caught the attention of legendary team owner Richard Childress, who would eventually team Skinner, at RCR, alongside of seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champ Dale Earnhardt at the sport's highest level.
Accumulating an impressive array of race victories and multiple series championships along the way, 'The Gun Slinger' never scored a points-paying win at the Cup level, although he once famously quipped that he "would wreck my grandmother to get a win here!"
"That was after a race in Atlanta where we'd dominated," recalls Skinner. "With less than 20 laps to go, a five dollar part broke in the motor and put us out. That quote simply came out of frustration."
On Sunday, February 9, Skinner will bring a lifetime of racing stories and memories of the people he's met through motorsports to share with Canadian fans.
Joining him will be his wife, Angie Skinner, who co-hosts the popular Sirius XM Speedway satellite radio show, weekdays on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio. Angie – who is also the Director of Marketing & Sales for Ryan Newman Motorsport – will be participating in the Meet The Media Panel Discussion on Saturday afternoon at the CME, featuring Canada's top motorsports journalists.
"Anytime you have a chance to interact with the audience, it's fun," continued Mike Skinner. "The fans are always so inviting – they all have a bit of gearhead in them – so we always have something to chat about."
One of Skinner's greatest achievements in racing came in 1995 while behind the wheel of RCR's #3 Goodwrench Chevy pickup – which was reminiscent of Earnhardt's legendary Cup car – in the inaugural NASCAR Truck Series event. Skinner won the history-making race following a dramatic last lap pass on Sprint Cup star Terry Labonte. Skinner went on to earn seven more checkered flags that season, en route to being crowned the Truck Series' first champion.
"That really meant a lot to us. That gave us our identity and credibility. We basically came out of nowhere to beat the Cup guys. After that, we became known as a 20-year overnight sensation," laughs Skinner.
Skinner split his time between the Truck and Sprint Cup series in 1996, before moving full time into the #31 Lowe's Chevy Sprint Cup car the next year, teamed with the legendary Dale Earnhardt at RCR. He earned the Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Award in 1997 and won a pair of Cup Series exhibition races in Japan.
In 2004, Skinner returned to his beloved Truck Series, eventually rolling up an amazing career record of 28 wins, 50 poles and 90 top-five finishes in 231 race starts.
Stepping down as full time racer in 2012, Skinner is still involved in the sport as a respected 'driver coach,' mentoring young talent. He's also preparing for a return trip to England and the Goodwood Festival of Speed, with the goal of capturing the NASCAR speed record with his partner Andrew Franzone. At Goodwood, Skinner will pilot the same Toyota Tundra NASCAR Truck he drove to victory lane at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2005.
For updated news and show schedules – including details about Mike Skinner's appearance, Private 'VIP Meet & Greets,' 'Up Front and First in Line Autograph Access,' and all other events at the CME – watch www.CanadianMotorsportsExpo.com.