Generally in racing, you crawl before you walk and walk before you run. It's a case of drivers learning their craft and getting better with experience. Not everyone can be a Joey Logano with a well-thought out plan to hit every step of the racing ladder with top equipment and the personnel to prepare it. For most of the short track world, top ten finishes pave the way to top five finishes and eventually, if you are good enough, race victories.
New Hampshire's Matt Frahm is currently climbing that ladder in the Super Late Model world. He started out at Star Speedway, first in a Strictly Stock and then in a small-block Supermodified and eventually a weekly Super Late Model. Then he joined the PASS North tour and started lowering his average finish. Now, thanks to a successful outing during Sunday's Oktoberfest at lee USA Speedway, Frahm is now a winning Super Late Model driver as well.
Frahm technically crossed the finish line second at Lee, but when apparent race winner J.R Baril was found to have soft tires, the victory became Frahm's.
“We're very happy,” said Frahm. “We were the fastest legal car. Actually, we were fastest in Saturday's practice, but struggled a little bit with our race tires.
“Hopefully this threw the monkey off our back. We might have finished second [on the track], but we were the first legal car. On the PASS tour, you run legal and with legal tires. So that's how we run.”
20-year-old Frahm caught the racing bug thanks to growing up around the family business of SNF Crane - a long-time sponsor in short track racing for drivers like Tracy Gordon and Dave Dion. The Frahms have kept in touch through the years with both drivers, who are both presently inactive in their own racing careers, and both former NASCAR Busch North Series race winners have helped to coach Matt. Added help from Super Late Model drivers Bobby Cabral and Fred Skaff have also provided plenty of professors to tutor Frahm. Add in a dedicated crew and it seems like Frahm was happier to reward all of his supporters with an Oktoberfest victory than he was to win the race for himself.
“The crew has worked with me and been patient the whole time,” said Frahm. “Roger Dion [who was part of the legendary Dion Brothers Racing team of Dave Dion for decades] and my parents Dave and Kathy Frahm and just everybody who puts their time and dedication into it - this is for them because I wouldn't be here if not for them. They are really the ones who deserve this.
“I've been influenced a lot by Tracy Gordon and Dave Dion. Those two have been awesome to me. I learned a lot watching them and I've learned a lot listening to them. I watched Tracy since I was a little kid and I've always liked his driving style. He'll save his stuff until the end and then turns the wick up. He's the best I've seen at that. He influences me a lot.”
These days, there aren't many Tracy Gordon sightings at the race track. The former regular in what is now known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and the now-defunct ASA National Tour just doesn't generally enjoy going to races where he can't be driving. But the friendship between the Frahms and Gordon has resulted in Gordon popping up for a few events here and there - including Oktoberfest.
“It isn't often, but occasionally he'll come out,” said Frahm. “My father and him are really good friends and he was here today with us. I think he's already left, but it was awesome seeing him here at the track. It's good to see him here and even better than he helps us out however he can.”
Frahm has been a part-time driver in PASS North over the past few seasons and has kept getting closer to the front in each of those season.
“I think so far, that has worked out well,” said Frahm. “We've bided our time and paid our dues. I think that has been good for us. I drive people the way that they drive me. If I drive them clean, I expect the same back and usually that happens.”
“I think next year will be a big team for us. This team has a lot of potential. In 2011, we're going to try and run a lot more races than we have. Hopefully, we can put some wins under our belt. This definitely puts some momentum on our side for the off-season. I'll be driving whenever I can through the winter weather it is up here in go-karts or down South in something else. I'll be keeping my foot experienced.”
Racing against the regular of PASS North have also helped Frahm better his own abilities.
“Johnny Clark is the class of the field in my opinion,” said Frahm. “He's one of the best guys to race with, he's always clean and I learn by racing against him. He's a good guy to race with and a good guy to talk to. The same thing with Ben Rowe and Mike Rowe. They've all been running forever so to race against them, you pick up all of their tips and tricks. That definitely helps me.”
Now that he is a Super Late Model winner, the future looks bright for Matt Frahm.
“This past year and last year, we've really kind of turned things up,” he said. “Hopefully next year, it will be even more. I'm looking forward to next season and the seasons after that. I'll try to get in whatever I can for rides and keep racing.”