After making a statement in his first season of competition in 2019, Matt Boyes was forced to take a back seat this past year as a result of the coronavirus. That is something he hopes to change in 2021.
“For the 2021 season, obviously our first goal is to get back on the track after such a dismal year in 2020,” he told SHORT TRACK MUSINGS. “I hope we as racers, fans and supporters of motorsports in Ontario can come together and bring the excitement back to the speedways we call home. First and foremost the tracks need our support, before anyone worries about winning or losing.
“Beyond that, I think the 2021 season will give my team the opportunity to develop skills and compete for a championship in Bone Stock, while gaining the value seat time that will help my progression to the Mini Stock division.”
The championship aspirations in Pure Stock at Sunset Speedway come as no surprise, based on his rookie campaign in 2019 with two wins and six top-five’s in feature competition, matched with seven heat victories.
“The division is loaded with great drivers, quality cars and every week is anyone’s chance to win,” he commented. “My focus will be on good, consistent runs that will hopefully compound and leave me in the mix for the points championship come September. I also hope to help my teammate John get his car on the track, and hopefully find the kind of success I was able to find in my Rookie season.”
Being able to find success came with having “shown good long run speed and the ability to compete when the conditions are perfect,” but Boyes knows he will need to build upon that to be a true title threat.
“I think being new to the racing world, my biggest challenge is setup and making changes,” he shared. “Our program will be working hard to learn, log, and understand the changes we make to our chassis and how they affect the handling changes. Hopefully with this continued research and progress, we can improve each and every week.”
While the focus is primarily on the Bone Stock, nobody is about to forget Boyes’ Mini Stock aspirations after he purchased one of the fastest Honda Civics in the province from multi-race winner Andy Kamrath.
“One of the luckiest parts with starting with such a quality piece like this Mini Stock is knowing the car has the potential to do great things,” he commented. “In practice last fall, we found great pace and comfort in the car turning laps around Sunset Speedway. I think the main goal for our Mini Stock program will be for John and I to get the valuable seat time at the beginning of the season, that can hopefully translate to some competitive runs closer to the end of the season. We’ll be unveiling a new look courtesy of Image Wraps in the spring, and we can’t wait to have our Green Tractors & Redline Brewhouse Mini Stock out on the track come Spring.”
Boyes already got to try out the car during a private test session at Sunset Speedway, saying he was surprised in the difference between the Pure Stock and the Mini Stock in relation to “a much better chassis, and better handling characteristics.”
“I think one of the biggest advantages to starting out with a proven winner, is giving myself the opportunity to learn to drive around a well built, excellent car,” he added. “Having a person like Andy Kamrath in your corner is definitely big advantage too, and a big reason we chose his machine. His expertise on making handling changes, and ability to drive racecars will net some valuable lessons I’m sure over my first season in Mini Stock.”
For Boyes, he grew up going to Sunset Speedway with his family, watching friends run in the Canadian Vintage Modifieds. However, being involved in tractor pulling, he previously did not have the time to pursue a racing career of his own.
“After I got married, my wife’s grandfather was really into oval track racing, and actually raced at Pinecrest Speedway,” he explained. “Between Jack (Grandfather-In-Law) and my wife, they pushed me to finally build a car and get out on the track! Once out there, the wheel-to-wheel competition and sportsmanship immediately had me hooked, and Sunset Speedway became like a second home.
“Sunset Speedway, and the whole crew including Brian & Sandra, Ben & Courtney, Mike Brown, and everyone else who makes the races happen every week were friendly and full of suggestions to get me going on the track. Transitioning into oval track racing wouldn’t have been so easy without them!”
Those were able to attend Sunset Speedway and see Boyes’ No. 23 entry would recognize the familiar green and yellow colors from his racing hero, Chad Little.
“Chad Little was one of my racing hero’s growing up simply because he ran the No. 97 John Deere Ford,” he shared. “I remember meeting him and seeing the car at a John Deere dealer meeting when I was growing up, when he put me in the car and showed me around. He was kind, a class act, and obviously I loved the car! Now, watching his son Jesse work his way up through the Xfinity series, I certainly hope to see him one day run competitively in Cup Series.”