Pro Modified racer and Aeromotive Fuel Systems President Steve Matusek took perhaps the ride of his racing life on Saturday at the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Norwalk when he lost control of his supercharged Chevrolet Camaro and struck the concrete retaining wall in his opening round elimination match.
Matusek, who qualified 15th in the field with a 5.90, was paired with nitrous runner Rickie Smith in Saturday afternoon’s opening stanza. After leaving dead-even with Smith, Matusek encountered tire shake right at the hit that become ever-more severe as he neared the 330-foot clocks, forcing the car toward the centerline. A seasoned doorslammer vet, Matusek was largely along for the ride as the car abruptly pitched back to the left and struck the wall nose-first.
Fortunately for Matusek, the Camaro was rotating as it made contact, lessening the severity of the impact and allowing him to walk away, frustrated but without injury.
The Aeromotive Camaro, known by the team as “Little Jimmy” (a reference to he and teammate Danny Rowe’s crew chief, Jimmy Rector), was damaged both front and rear in the incident. Fortunately, the J&A Service NHRA Pro Mod Series is entering a two-month hiatus before its next stop at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend, affording Matusek and company ample time to make the necessary repairs.
For Matusek, Saturday’s incident represents the only major blemish on what has otherwise been a season to remember — his first career NHRA Pro Mod victory came at Houston in April, and consistently solid showings in what is arguably the most competitive eliminator in drag racing has springboard him to sixth in the standings with four races remaining.