Cylinder head specialist Matt Sackman earned his NHRA Top Fuel license Monday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Sackman got his start at Don Schumacher Racing in 2013 as an intern on Antron Brown’s Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster before becoming full time in 2014. He got his license in the machine he works on all week and services on race weekends.
“I’ve been a crew member on Antron’s Matco Tools dragster since 2013 so to be able to get my Top Fuel license in that same car and have Antron sign off on my license was pretty surreal,” said Sackman.
The 25-year-old graduate of Joliet Junior College in Illinois made three passes down The Strip. The first was a planned shutoff and then made a pair of passes at 3.832 and 3.851 seconds a pop. Dom Lagana also signed off on Sackman’s license.
Sackman is an NHRA event winner in Top Alcohol Dragster and also competes in Top Dragster. He got his start racing in Jr. Dragster in 2005, which he ran until 2011. That’s where he met Brown, who was getting his son, Anson, started in the Summit Jr. Drag Racing League. That led to Sackman getting a gig with Brown’s Top Fuel crew.
“I started driving my family’s Top Dragster in 2015 and competed in a handful of events that year,” said Sackman. “Hangsterfer’s came on board initially as a one-race deal in 2015 and from there it grew into a full-time partnership of our family’s dragster in 2017 which eventually led to them sponsoring the Top Alcohol Dragster I’ve been driving. I’m so grateful to Mike Ditzel and the Jones family (of Hangsterfer’s) for being such strong supporters of my driving career.
“I’ve known Antron, and (Matco Tools dragster co-crew chiefs) Brad Mason and Mark Oswald for more than 10 years at this point. Getting licensed at Vegas yesterday kind of felt like things were coming full circle because that’s where I got licensed in the Top Alcohol Dragster category in 2015.”
“Obviously, the goal is to one day compete on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit. To have been able to drive a DSR dragster yesterday was one of those pinch-me moments, and if I one day have an opportunity to drive for Don Schumacher, that would just be incredible. He and I are both Chicago natives and it’s cool that we have that connection. Until then, I’m just going to continue to try and get as much seat time as possible. A huge thank you to Don and Megan Schumacher, all the guys on the Matco Tools team and Hangsterfer’s for allowing me to get one step closer to my dream yesterday.”
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series gets back in action in Houston on Friday.