The 2019 season of the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Series has been something of a different experience for Steve Matusek, who joined the Elite Motorsports team at the conclusion of last year. Matusek and longtime friend Danny Rowe had raced as teammates for the previous five seasons, and when Rowe opted to step away from Pro Mod in order to focus more on business, a new opportunity was presented to nine-year Pro Mod veteran Matusek.
He and Elite Motorsports team owner Richard Freeman joined forces and rounded out a powerfully capable group of drivers. The Pro Mod brand of Elite Motorsports also includes diverse and decorated drivers Alex Laughlin and Erica Enders.
“The only issue for me, mentally, was just leaving Danny Rowe Racing,” said Matusek, who resides in Olathe, KS, with wife Lori. “The car stuff, I’ve been in these cars long enough to adapt and change, but Danny Rowe and I were racing partners and personal friends – not just personal friends, but we’re family friends. That’s what made it a difficult move. That was probably the toughest part about the whole transition.”
The 39th annual Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals is the fourth Pro Mod race of the season, and so far, Matusek has yet to see the success he yearns for. In Gainesville, he just barely missed the field in his Ford Mustang, and he has yet to lock into a position to race on Sunday for the trophy.
The season is still quite young, but Matusek would, of course, like to see a turnaround sooner rather than later.
“The car just isn’t performing yet,” he said. “But I’m pleased to be part of the package. The best part, so far this year, has been learning. I’m a technology guy, and I can appreciate and respect that. We have some of the best tuners in the business. To be involved with Shane [Tecklenburg], [Modern Racing’s] Justin Elkes, Richard Freeman, and to have teammates like Alex Laughlin and Erica enders – this is really a dream team. There is a lot of good camaraderie, and we have some good chemistry.
“We kind of stubbed our toe a little bit with the car – in Houston, we found we had a broken chassis, and we’ve had some nagging problems with the car that shouldn’t have happened. But it’s nobody’s fault. It’s put us a little bit behind, but hopefully, we can take advantage of the chemistry and talent of this team and change our luck a little bit.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019