Matt Driskell sits down for a DragChamp Racer Spotlight to talk about snake charming, winning championships, and doing it all with his wife by his side.
WELLSVILLE, KS – A chance trip to the drag strip with a couple of friends in high school led Matt Driskell to a lifelong passion in drag racing. Over 36 years of competition, Driskell has claimed multiple championships in a variety of race cars. He now competes in NHRA Top Sportsman and within the bracket racing scene.
Flashing back to those high school days, Driskell tells us that after that visit to the AHRA Summer Nationals at Kansas City International Raceway, he knew he would have to take his 1969 Chevelle SS down the track as soon as possible.
He says, “Before that, I had never been to a drag strip or around anyone who was into drag racing outside of street racing. I was hooked!”
That thrill for racing, paired with spending time with friends at the track, has kept Driskell coming back for more.
Behind the Wheel
Matt Driskell can be found behind the wheel of any of his three rides.
The Top Sportsman car is a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt built by Bob’s Pro Fab, but powered by his own 648 cubic inch motor with two nitrous kits.
His two bracket racing machines are a 1990 Chevrolet S-10 with a 434 small block Chevy, and a 2008 TNT dragster equipped with a 615 big block Chevy motor.
Although when asked about picking a favorite, Driskell recalls a 1998 Mullis Race Cars dragster that was his first 4-link car. He says it was built for him and just an all-around great car.
Matt Driskell Racing Accomplishments
Driskell earned the 1996 NHRA Super Comp World Championship and most recently picked up the 2020 Division 5 Top Sportsman Championship. In between those, he has illuminated countless win lights in an impressive way.
Driskell has clinched the Division 5 Super Comp Championship and Division 5 Top Dragster Championship three times each. He’s also won the Division 5 Super Quick Championship twice and Top Comp Championship in Division 5, once.
In 1997, he won the TRW Allstars in Super Comp, which has now evolved into today’s JEGS Allstars event.
Last but not least, Driskell earned a six-figure bracket racing paycheck when he won the Mid Michigan $100K in 1998.
If forced to choose, Driskell admits that he’s better on the starting line versus the finish line. He also has a “hate to lose” mentality that fuels those winning ways.
Funding, Hard Work, and Chasing Championships
Matt Driskell owns and operates Driskell Racing Engines where most of the monetary support from his racing comes from. He has also had a long term relationship with Brodix Cylinder Heads along with other manufacturers to keep his racing dreams alive.
Speaking of dreams, Driskell hopes to remain competitive throughout bracket racing and time allowing, win more NHRA Division Championships and a World Championship in Top Sportsman.
As far as time goes, Driskell believes that is the hardest part about drag racing. He says it can be tough keeping up with all the work it takes to race on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, especially since it’s just himself and his wife, Susan.
A Legendary Opponent
When asked about tough competitors, Matt Driskell takes us on a trip back to the days of dial-up internet to talk about the 1990’s Super Comp era.
He said, “Sheldon Gecker was always tough and I’m not sure that I ever beat him. We didn’t race each other a lot, but while I was working on winning the ’96 Super Comp World Championship, he beat me in the final of a Divisional and in the late rounds of a Division in Houston.”
Driskell also mentioned the Richardson brothers as tough runs both then and now.
An Unusual “Talent“
Apparently Driskell had an unknown talent for snake charming at the racetrack with both real and fake snakes.
He recalls, “At KCIR in 1991, the Stinnett boys (who were under 10 years old at the time) thought it would be funny to put a rubber snake in the cockpit of my dragster. As I got in to warm the car up, I felt something down by my feet, realized it was a snake, and make a very quick exit around a bunch of people watching…who all knew about the prank.”
Driskell also talked about the time he had a live snake decide to snuggle up in his engine diaper during a cool day at Mo-Kan Dragway.
While he was doing a burnout the snake made it’s escape, but his rear tire launched it 30 feet into the air, unbeknownst to Driskell. When he got back to the trailer he was greeted with the story, and the snake to prove it.
Bigger Shop and New Scenery
Matt Driskell is content with his racing rigs and the racecars in his possession, so if given an endless supply of cash, he would update his race shop.
He explains, “I’m fortunate to be able to keep it all inside but not under the same roof and it’s pretty crowded, so I’d build a huge race shop.
Matt would consider traveling more, although he does enjoy the time at home. He does miss the days of going to new places, so he would try to hit the road to tracks that he’s never been and bring his closest crew to every one. That would mean Susan, his brother, Mark, and Matt’s best friend, Chad, would all be along for the ride!
Take a look at the following Q&A to learn even more about Matt Driskell.
What are you saying to yourself just before staging the car?
I tell myself, “Clear it out.”
How often do you use a practice tree?
4 or 5 times a week. My race car shop is attached to the engine shop, so I sneak over there a few times a day…especially during race season.
Besides racing, what do you do in your free time?
We like to spend time at home working around here, riding side by sides around the area, and weightlifting. It seems the older I get, the less free time we have.
What’s your favorite kind of music or artist?
I like a pretty wide variety of music, 70‐80s rock, all country, and newer rock also. Right now, I have been listening to Texas Hippie Coalition and John Pardi on Spotify.
Name one thing people don’t know about you?
I’m a cat lover and I love to cook. My favorite food is spaghetti, but I like all kinds!
What’s one thing you are really good at?
Leaning something after watching it once or just figuring it out on my own.
Favorite sport and team?
College basketball and Kansas University.
Gratitude for Many People
Although riddled with success, Driskell never forgets to appreciate all the help he’s received along the way. First and foremost, he thanks his wife, Susan, and he claims he couldn’t have done any of it without her help and support since the very beginning.
He continues, “My brother, Mark, and best friend, Chad Allen, as they go with us whenever they can. Larry and Joy Custer helped to give me a place to work on my cars in the very beginning and we traveled everywhere together for many years, until he stopped racing. There have been many others who played a big part in our racing and business, such as Ron Milhous, Darwin Shriver, Dallas Davis, J. Lee Didier, Tom Donvan, Will Carrell, and Bud Preuss.”
Jessica was born into a family of drag racers and fell in love with the sport at a young age. She began competing at 13 and has been hooked ever since! She even met her husband at the World Footbrake Challenge VII. Jessica works full time as an Ultrasound Technologist but spends almost every weekend chasing win lights at IHRA and NHRA bracket races.