Aeromotive Founder Joins Forces with Elite Motorsports Pro Mod Team
Racing comes full circle for Pro Mod driver Steve Matusek, who will drive a twin-turbo Ford Mustang for Elite Motorsports in 2019.
Matusek joins Elite’s burgeoning Pro Mod operation that will also feature Erica Enders and Alex Laughlin for the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service season. This move is a return to Matusek’s beginnings, not only for Pro Mod, but also drag racing- an opportunity to drive a Mustang for a forward-thinking operation he couldn’t pass up.
“My Dad worked at a Ford dealership and ran Fords, so this opportunity goes back to my roots,” Matusek said. “I loved how you had to be innovative to make these power plants work. Now that I am coming back full circle to my roots, it’s really fulfilling for me. It’s just an unbelievable team with unbelievable drivers. I view this team like an onion. When I started to peel back the layers, you begin to realize how much is there. The team consists of a lot of high-profile, powerful people, so it’s exciting.”
The addition of Matusek is the latest move for Elite Motorsports as it continues to take a bigger leap into the NHRA Pro Mod ranks. Enders debuted in the class last year and made considerable strides as the year progressed, and she will race the full 12-event schedule in 2019. Laughlin will do the same as he makes his Pro Mod debut next season, which means Matusek will be a veteran of the group. He made his NHRA Pro Mod debut in 2011, grabbing his first career win in the class in 2017 in Houston. Matusek has four top-10 finishes in the loaded Pro Mod class, bringing a wealth of experience and success to the team, but Elite Motorsports team owner Richard Freeman also connected on a business level which proved pivotal in a deal coming together.
“Steve and I have crossed paths many times and he’s a superstar in the business world, so we’re excited about this,” Freeman said. “He’s really helping us build another program and it just seemed like a real comfortable fit. We both seem to think a lot alike.”
Matusek and Freeman both share great success in business, which was a major contributing factor in Matusek’s decision. Matusek started Aeromotive in 1994. His ideas and expertise add another impressive layer to the Elite Motorsports team, coming to the group after a five-year run with Danny Rowe Racing, according to the team. Rowe suspended his Pro Mod racing operations for 2019, which initially led Matusek to believe he wouldn’t, nor wanted to be racing next season. But his connection to Freeman on a business level helped change his mind.
“That was a magical time for us, and you never want to see it end,” Matusek said of his time with DRR. “Up until Monday of this week, I was already trying to get used to not scaring myself on a weekly basis. It was tough to get through that, but the way this came together by starting to meet the people on the new team and understand what they’re doing and their innovation, that’s what I love. And I hope it’s as fulfilling as the last five years have been with Danny and Val (Rowe). The relationship my wife, Lori, and I have with Danny and Val extends far beyond racing and we are happy that relationship will continue regardless of whether either one of us get into another car.”
With Elite Motorsports’ Pro Mod operation growing significantly, Freeman believes the team has a chance to make a significant mark in the class, much like it has done in Pro Stock on the strength of Enders’ two world championships.
“We have a lot of work to do to get ready for Gainesville, but I think it’s going to be a neat deal,” Freeman said. “It’s a lot of tough competition, but give us two to three races and we’ll be right there.”
After a difficult year where Matusek didn’t get the results he wanted, he also has high expectations in his turbocharged Mustang from Jerry Bickel Race Cars. Matusek is determined to have an immediate impact, putting together some lofty goals in the process.
“Everybody’s happy, everybody’s excited and everyone speaks highly of each other,” Matusek said. “That helped in some of my decision-making process. To me, the thrill of just driving a Pro Mod is over. I’m not doing this to say I drive a Pro Mod. I want to freaking win races and win a championship.”