With NHRA races on hold due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Matt Hartford has been focused on the business he partially owns with investors Total Seal Piston Rings based in Phoenix, Ariz.
“Total Seal is deemed an essential business as we supply piston rings from everything to aerospace to industrial to over the road cars to race cars,” Hartford said. “Total Seal has been able to stay open the last six weeks that this has all been happening. Fortunately for our employees and for Total Seal and our customers we’ve been able to still provide product as needed.
It definitely had a major effect on our revenue, however, with Formula 1, NASCAR, professional drag racing and all racing around the world parked, obviously, the racing side of our industry has slowed up tremendously. The other part of our business has slowed down, but not stopped.”
On the racing side of things, Hartford is keeping things in perspective when he will be able to return to action.
“I’m totally prepared for a sometime, probably mid-July start date,” he said. “I really do not see NHRA being able to go back racing in June because NHRA relies on spectators and fans to come through the gate where other forms of racing can race without spectators. That’s just not a model that NHRA can sustain. I’m pretty optimistic on the fact that we will go back racing this year, I just don’t feel it is going to be in June.”
This season, Hartford is utilizing engine power from Ken Black Racing led by Greg Anderson and Jason Line.
“We look at like this the last time Pro Stock cars saw the track in competition was in Orlando (Fla., March 6-8) at the Doorslammer Nationals, and we actually set the E.T. record,” Hartford said. “We are now the quickest Pro Stock car in history in the EFI era. We went 6.460 (seconds) in the next to last run in qualifying. We lost to Jason (Line) in the first round in that race, but we were leaving Orlando with a tremendous amount of momentum and confidence of how fast program we have and how good of a program we have. This is the first time in history that I can’t go racing and I have the quickest car. In years past, I didn’t have a fast car and I could race anytime I want. That just hat’s off to how good the KB program is and how good and reliable their engine program is that when everything starts back up, I’m confident you’re going to see most of the teams pick right up where they left off and keep moving forward.”
Hartford said prior to racing returning he will not have time to do any testing.
“With having a business to run and 50-plus employees to make sure that that the employees and their families all taken care of, I simply do not have time to test,” Hartford said.
Hartford had a career-best season in 2019, finishing fifth in the NHRA Mello Yello Series points standings. He had one win at Seattle and five runner-up performances. He had a 27-17 elimination-round record.