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Kickin The Tires

U.S. Navy Sailor Matt Perry focused on racing in 2020

Courtesy Photo: Matt Perry

By Sarah Handy, Staff Writer

Matt Perry isn’t your average racer; he also is a Second-Class Petty Officer actively serving in the United States Navy stationed in San Diego, California.

Perry made his racing debut on an oval in a Super Late Model in 2017 but overall, he’s been racing since 2010.

He’s done some drifting, auto cross, some road course racing and even drag racing before he got involved in oval racing. Perry started training at Irwindale Speedway towards the beginning of 2017 after he returned from a seven-month deployment.

Additionally, he also went on to make four starts in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 2018 as well.

However, it’s been quite the road for the Saint Mary’s, Georgia native who was involved in a horrific automobile accident on the night of June 24, 2018.

“They thought I was dead on scene. Then I opened my passenger door and hobbled away,” Perry told Kickin’ The Tires. “I was the only person to call 911 and I even called work to tell them I won’t be in tomorrow, while pinned in my car.”

That accident would prove to be a long road of recovery for Perry and put his racing plans on hold, but not indefinitely. It’s still at the forefront.

“It didn’t even feel that bad for me. My first super late model wreck in 2017 hurt way worse and I still raced the rest of the night,” stated Perry.

Fast forward to 2020 and Perry is ready to race and beyond focused on accomplishing his goals.

He has plans to run the full schedule on dirt in late models this season at Kankakee County Speedway in Illinois.

Furthermore, the car Perry will race at Kankakee is owned by track owner, Tom Smith.

Smith has almost two decades of experience on asphalt and over a decade of experience on dirt.

“He personally is training me on race days,” Perry told Kickin’ The Tires. “I also am getting great advice and help from track champion Chad Osterhoff and his 17-year old son, Chase Osterhoff.”

With that said though, Perry has big goals of racing at Eldora Speedway this summer in the Eldora Dirt Derby all while making racing history as well.

That is, if NASCAR approves him to do so.

“The biggest goal of this year is to run a full schedule on dirt in late models and to hopefully get approved to run trucks at the Eldora Dirt Derby in July,” he said. “If I can pull it off, I will become the world’s first active duty service member to race in the National levels of NASCAR.”

 “Eldora would be awesome. Running dirt all year will put me at an advantage over many of the drivers who have little to no dirt experience.”

Without a doubt, being able to race more often than not comes down to that one important factor, acquiring sponsorship.

“Sponsorship is the hardest thing and last season was looking to be a big one spotting for drivers in multiple races across Late Models, IMCA Modifieds and NASCAR K&N Pro Series,” said Perry. “Without the required sponsorships to go racing it left me working 90+ hours a week to make it all happen.”

Continuously long work hours to live the racing dream mean making sacrifices that aren’t always easy.

“I haven’t been home to see family on holidays in years just making this dream happen,” stated Perry.

(Photo Courtesy of: Matt Perry)

With that though said, Perry remains focused on racing in 2020 whether it be Dirt Late Models, ARCA or Trucks.

“I’ve lived, I’ve nearly died, and I’ve gotten a second chance at life. There are 24 hours in a day, and I won’t go to bed without making that day count, because I know how quick it can all be lost in a moment,” said Perry. “Whatever it takes, this race season will be written down in history. Strive to be your best each and every day.”

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