December 26, 2013 — Audio and story by Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — Matt Tifft Racing photo — Hinckley, Ohio — Christmas came just a few days early for Matt Tifft this year, but that didn’t mean the young gun was through celebrating by any means.
The 17-year-old rising star out of Hinckley, Ohio, was named last week as one of the drivers for the Ken Schrader Racing (KSR) stable for 2014, joining team principal Kenny Schrader and Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell as part of a strengthened lineup that will compete in both the ARCA Racing Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in the upcoming year.
“I am very excited to make the move to Ken Schrader Racing and extremely honored to represent Federated Auto Parts,” said Tifft following the announcement. “The team is a proven winner and consistent contender and I look forward to adding to the success of this already well-established organization.
“It is also very cool for me to be driving for Ken Schrader. I’ve had one of his die-cast cars since I was about five years old. I know I will learn a lot from him on and off the track.”
For Tifft, the move is a big step after this season competing in a piecemeal K&N Pro Series East and West schedule, as well as a pair of ARCA races, for longtime ARCA Racing Series operation Win-Tron Racing. The Win-Tron/Tifft tandem had some rough patches early on, but hit their stride in the second half of the year and scored a total of 7 top ten finishes, with a season-best of fifth at Miller Motorsports Park (KNPSW) and Tifft’s home track, Toledo Speedway (ARCA).
“High point of our season was definitely the ARCA race at Toledo,” Tifft said emphatically when asked to reflect on his season. “That was the first race for me in front of a hometown crowd in a long, long time and to come out and perform the way we did, racing against some of the best in Frank Kimmel, Tom Hessert; it was just a great weekend all around.”
2014 will bring a continued learning curve for the Ohioan, with plans to run a total of 10 ARCA and 4 K&N Pro Series East events. While the schedule is yet to be determined, Tifft knows that the upcoming year will be an important step in his path up the racing ladder.
“I’m excited for 2014, and I’m ready for the challenge. Two years ago, we set our bar high and won the ARCA Midwest Tour Rookie of the Year award, and this year, while it didn’t go how we wanted to on the results side, I did learn a lot, and I feel like I achieved a lot of what we were after for this season.”
Achieving goals only creates more goals to strive for, and for the young driver who claims Jeff Gordon as his favorite athlete (yes, athlete) and hero, he’s striving as high as he can.
“I want to make it to the top level; I feel like this is a huge step in the right direction, and I’m excited to take that step with Kenny Schrader and the race team at KSR. We can only go up from here.”
And for the announcement to break when it did, Tifft says he couldn’t have asked for a better gift this holiday season.
“It put the icing on the cake for my Christmas, that’s for sure. Some gifts you just can’t contain in a gift box.”
A very Merry Christmas indeed.
About Matt Tifft Racing:
Matt Tifft, 17-year-old NASCAR Driver, began his career at age 11, racing Go Karts at the Barberton, OH Speedway. He quickly progressed to competing against the best drivers in Northeast Ohio in late model stock car racing. At age 16, Matt was named the ARCA Midwest Tour Rookie of the Year. Currently he races in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and ARCA series. Matt is a senior at Highland High School in Medina, OH and is a spokesperson for the “Take Control” program designed to educate teens about safe driving.
Listen in as we caught up with Matt Tifft for a behind-the-scenes interview just before the announcement of his 2014 plans: