Story By: MIKE PARKS / GRANITE STATE PRO STOCK SERIES – WALPOLE, NH – Late in the 2018 Racing season, Jake Matheson announced that he would be making his full sized race car debut with the Granite State Pro Stock Series. His family owned team had purchased a car from eventual series champion and friend Devin O’Connell and were in the process of getting it ready for 2019.
Now, four races into his rookie season, expectations have been exceeded. Three top tens have led to the rookie sitting solidly in the top ten in the series point standings and continued consistency should lead to a career first top five finish in the very near future.
Although current successes may come as a surprise to some, looking at his past it shouldn’t. When asked where his love of circle track racing comes from he attributes it to a trip to NHMS. “At seven years old my dad took me to an Xfinity Series race and I have loved it ever since.” Matheson went on to say “The next year at eight years old, I started running a Champ Kart at Rt. 106 Raceway and I’ve been racing ever since.”
In 2014 the move was made to Bandalero cars and in 2016 Matheson won the first of his championships. Also in 2016 he started dabbling with Legends cars and for 2017 it was a full season in the division with lots of learning.
2018 started out as just another year of legends racing, but turned out to be the young drivers break out year. Starting the year competing for the track championship at the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts, Matheson and his father Ken quickly realized that a national point’s championship was a real possibility. “When we figured out that we were in contention for a national title we realized we needed to change how we were racing” said Matheson. “We started paying more attention to finishing in front of other young lions.”
The final tally for 2018 was 7 wins, numerous top fives the Seekonk track championship and a trip to Las Vegas for the Legends car national championship. A heated battle with his chief rival for the title, ended with a last lap pass for second and a tie in the standings. After the tie breaker Matheson was crowned the 2018 legends car young lion’s national champion!
After the success of 2018 and a major change in vehicle for 2019, it would seem that a letdown would be a sure thing, but that has not been the case. On the Thursday before the season opener the young driver celebrated his sixteenth birthday and the following day he got his NH driver’s license. Up next would be his big debut as on Saturday he strapped in for his first race in a Pro Stock. At the end of a night that featured the longest race of his career, Matheson had earned himself a seventh place finish and the respect of many of his fellow drivers.
Mentor and friend Devin O’Connell, heaps high praise on his young protégé “He’s been really consistent and done a nice job of staying smooth” said the 2018 GSPSS champion. “Considering it’s a car that’s double the size he’s used to, he’s done phenomenal”.
When asked about the rookie of the year candidates early success series President Mike Parks said “The kids done a great job, he’s done everything we’ve asked him to”. When asked about growing pains Parks said “there really hasn’t been any. At practice day he caught a slower car and rather than race him backed off and went back to doing his own thing”. “Honestly it’s been fun to watch” continued Parks. ““I really believe Jakes got a bright future in the sport”.
Points leader and Pro Stock veteran Joey Doiron also speaks highly of his fellow driver. “He’s doing an awesome job. He has been keeping the car in one piece so they can keep learning instead of repairing the car”. Doiron then went on to say “He’s made improvements each week and I think once he starts going back to tracks he’s run before, he’s only going to improve”
As the Granite State pro Stock Series heads to Lee USA Speedway for the second time in 2019, Matheson will have the opportunity to compete on a track where he actually has laps in a full sized car. The EKeyes4Cars 100 will be contested on Friday July 5th along with a spectacular fireworks display.