Digging Deep With Denise: Visiting With Matt Swanson

“Digging Deep With Denise” is a semi-regular question and answer feature with local racers and racing personalities produced by RaceDayCT’s Denise DuPont

Matt Swanson – They are my family …

Matt Swanson from Acton, Mass. is a third generation racer. His grandfather competed in drag racing and his father in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. At eight years old Matt’s own racing career started in a Quarter Midget at Thompson’s Little T. He scored a lot of wins and championships in this division. At 13 years old Matt moved his focus to the Modifieds driving for Marco Turcotte at Star Speedway. In his second year, he captured the track championship. His racing stepped up a notch in 2015. Swanson visited victory lane in Stafford’s SK Light Modified division and then he shifted his energy to NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the Valenti Modified Racing Series. At just 16 years old Matt earned the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco Rookie of the Year award.

With eleven top-five’s and 36 top-10 finishes in the books,  a Whelen Modified Tour victory is definitely in the future of this determined and talented young driver.

What sparked your interest in racing?

“Definitely my family. My grandfather was a drag racer back in the day and my father ran the old Busch North Series so that stuff got me hooked on it. I have been around it all my life. I had my first birthday at New Smyrna Speedway. So I have had race fuel and Hoosier tires in my blood for a long time.”

Which type of racing do you like the best?

“I enjoy any type of racing. I have a lot of fun driving for the ‘Ole Blue’ team. They are a great group of people. That know nothing but hard work, putting your head down to the grind stone and getting ready for the next one. We do not buy everything. Those guys work their tails off every day of the week for 365 days of the year to make these race cars what they are. A lot of people do not realize that. A lot of people write us off sometimes because it is a team that has been around for 60 plus years. When technology evolves at the rate that it has been nowadays it is hard to keep up with it. So it is research for these guys 24 hours a day. They are always trying to make these race cars better – John McKenna, Greg Fournier, Scotty Richards- who are the main three guys that really put the hard work in to getting these cars going as good as they do. Dave Young does tires for me has been around a long time. The Holbrook brothers and their father Bruce have been around for a long time. The list just goes on and on. My brothers also work on the car.  To me it does not feel any different than my family operation that I used to have. These guys are my family. We fight, we have good times together but at the end of the day we want to get this ‘Ole Blue” up at the front. Luckily Michael Boehler allows us to do that.”

Would you say racing is your hobby? Your Work? Your Life?

“Racing is definitely my life. If I did not have racing, I do not know what I would be doing with myself. If it ever could be a job that would be great. Fortunately enough, my family allows me to work half days at the family business so I can go down and work at the race car shop. So I guess you could call it a job, but I think it is a little bit of everything for me.”

What type of Modified chassis is in the car?

“We build all the chassis ourselves. There is very minimal if maybe five components that get bolted on these race cars that are bought. Ricky Kluth – who I drive for at the Turkey Derby – does our Spindles. The engines of course we do not do at home. Shocks and stuff like that we do not do. Chassis, bodies, nerf bars, most of the suspension components – all of that is built in house.”

Do you work on your own car?

“Yes, I am at the shop with my crew chief, Rick Fournier, who works there full time. I am there almost every day of the week. I go down in the afternoon and whether it is cleaning, nut and bolting or setting up the car I do it. They are starting to teach me about the suspension and stuff like that to help me get more involved. So I lend a hand everywhere that I can. ”

Your most memorable race experience?

“The first night that I drove the No. 3 at Thompson Speedway.  I had never sat in the thing until that moment. And to see the opportunities and the things that it has allowed me to do since that night, it has been unbelievable. And I have met some amazing people because of it. “

What are the challenges that drivers have running different tracks?

“That is a tough one. You have seasoned veterans like [Doug] Coby, [Ron] Silk, [Chris] Pasteryak and [Justin] Bonsignore. They have been everywhere so many times now. They can almost go to sleep before we go to a different race track and dream about what they are going to do when they get there. I would like to think that I am starting to get like that because I have been on the tour for a hand full of years now. I have been to a lot of different places and I have raced a lot of different race cars. I got to go to Beech Ridge for example. I was one of the few in the [Whelen Modified Tour] that had been there before, seen and enjoyed the place.  But I think with the seasoned veterans like those guys and the younger guys like me starting to figure out these race tracks, I would say the hardest part is probably remembering what the race track does throughout the day. Then making sure that you can capitalize on it and make sure that you are ready for it.”

What do you find unique about Thompson Speedway?

“Over the years the change in the grooves. The race track has turned into a two groove race track. The top of course is the preferred place to be on a short run. But more and more lately it seems that people are starting to move towards the bottom and almost pretty much move towards the grass. I definitely did that at the Thompson 300. It is just crazy to see how much moving around that you can do here. And that is the craziest thing. ”

What age did you start racing?

“I got my start racing Quarter Midgets on the Little T when I was 8 and I started racing Tour Type Modifieds when I was 13.”

What was your goal for 2021?

“To win in ‘Ole Blue”. It is something that I want to do more than anything in life. It is tough. I can honestly say that it has taken a toll on me, not getting these guys what they deserve, and that is a win. And it is not from a lack of effort and that is the worst part. We work so hard. Out of all the people on these team, I probably put in the least amount of effort because I am the one that has to get in and have a perfect two hours. While they have to have a perfect 80 hours in the shop to make sure the car is ready. My main job is to just be the best that I can during the race and these guys grind all week long to make sure that I can do that. The worst part now is our luck. Like in the Thompson 300, half-way through the race we had a brake issue. We came down pit road and lost a lot of track positions just to try to resolve it. And we ended up coming back with [20 laps] to go. It is just little things. Like the race at Stafford earlier this year. We got the pole and we thought we had a perfect day coming and we lost brakes. It is just one thing after another. Seasoned drivers say that racing is 80% luck and 20% skill. I am learning that slowly.”

Which do you like better: Turning the wrenches or turning the wheel?

“I like both because I think turning the wrenches helps me turn the wheel. Because when the car is not handling 100 percent right, you can lend more of a suggestion to try to help fix the car. Sometime I think that it hurts me turning wrenches and trying to help on the race car. Because sometimes I second guess stuff. But again I am trying to make a name for myself. I do not have a big sponsor behind me so if it means I have to go down to the shop and rip my knuckles open and get dirty, I am going to do that. We will keep doing exactly what we are doing because obviously we have speed and at some point luck will turn our way. ”

If you had to do this all over again, would you?

“Yes, I absolutely would.”

What are your plans for 2022?

“Plans are to be determined. I definitely will be in in the No. 3 car. I am just not sure if we are going to go back full time on the Tour or where the wind will take us. Our typical thing is we wait until the season is over, we will go to the shop, bring some dinner down there and everyone will come down and we will talk about it. From there we will figure out what we want to do. Because when it comes down to it, none of these guys get paid. They are all doing it because they love it. And we want to make sure that everyone has a damn good time doing it. ”

Reflecting on the Thompson 300 race and the fifth place finish

“The finish was definitely not what we wanted. We just struggled with the car. It seemed like we would make an adjustment to try to help. It would be so minimal that you would think that it would not do anything and it would completely change the attitude of the car. It was just tough. We had to keep fighting there. Then my crew chief made a call that you normally do not make – putting a tire that you started the race with back on. It was just because it had the best stagger and the most life left in it.

“The race was the survival of the fittest. 300 laps is definitely no joke I am definitely felt it in the next morning and I do not think that I am too out of shape. The 300 was definitely a cool experience and it is something I will remember for a long time. Hopefully I get too do it again and the next time we do it we are a lot better.”


  1. This Guy is a hot head when not getting his way on the track and has no social skills. Can’t see him succeeding at any high level of racing. The number 3 car can get much better drivers.

  2. See that’s just one of those comments that hangs out there that you have no idea is true or not. An example would be nice to show this hot headedness.
    I’ve seen Swanson wreck and be wrecked and he’s always seemed to be under control in the post wreck interview. Always seems gracious in victory lane or where ever else he’s interviewed. Did a shop tour of the BRE operation, that’s got all the character you’d expect it to have by the way, and he was terrific.


    There’s surely one good reason for him to be on the Old Blue team………sponsorship aka Swanson Buick GMC. You race Ole Blue it’s a necessity to be able to bring more then a helmet. Tradition and guile only take you so far.

  3. Priceless how people can hide behind a computer scene and make comments about guys and girls that put there ass on the line for your enjoyment.. Did you watch the video of Tim Jordan ?? Everyone that’s is out there deservers at Thank You not to be bashed by some Key Board A hole . WTF is wrong with you people. Matt is a good kid and helps BRE stay on track enjoy it don’t bash it.

  4. Doug I was thinking the same thing. A good positive interview with the kid. Then slam. In my mind that crossed a line. Give us your opinion of his driving talent or style. But no need to attack him personally.
    And no I’ve never met Swanson. You probably heard him on a scanner in the heat of the moment after difficulties on the track and assume that’s who he is. Shawn and Denise I have enjoyed reading the digging deep interviews.

  5. 🌈🦄2020 says

    What tour mod did he raced when he was 13?

  6. 🌈🦄2020,
    The story says he started racing “Tour Type Modifieds” when he was 13. Nowhere in there does it say he drove on the Whelen Modified Tour when he was 13.

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