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Matt Kimball is a racing champion

  • Matt Kimball of Bennington won the mini stock race series title at Monadnock Speedway this season. Courtesy of Emily Miller—

  • Matt Kimball of Bennington won the mini stock race series title at Monadnock Speedway this season. Courtesy of Emily Miller—

  • Matt Kimball of Bennington won the mini stock race series title at Monadnock Speedway this season. Courtesy of Emily Miller—

  • Matt Kimball of Bennington won the mini stock race series title at Monadnock Speedway this season. Courtesy of Emily Miller—

  • Matt Kimball of Bennington won the mini stock race series title at Monadnock Speedway this season. Courtesy of Emily Miller—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, October 18, 2018 10:56AM

Heading into the final race of the year, Matt Kimball didn’t need to do anything special.

The 17-year-old from Bennington had already wrapped up the mini stock series title at Monadnock Speedway, so whatever he did during those last 25 laps of the season was in a sense one big victory celebration. But Kimball wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to cap off his impressive season with one final win.

With the victory in the series finale on Sept. 22, Kimball finished with wins in four out of the final five races – and seven out of 15 overall – to amass 714 points and take home the coveted series win. His worst finish was 11th and outside of a fourth place finish in one other race, Kimball either won or finished runner-up in the other 13 races.

“Mini stock is what I achieve most at,” Kimball said. “And since I knew I had won, it put no pressure on , so I just went out and raced.”

Winning the mini stocks was a goal of his entering the season, one of many that he set for himself. If it weren’t for all the rain in July and August, Kimball just might have accomplished more of those goals along the way. In addition to winning the mini stocks, Kimball wanted to win the youth national title for mini stocks, which he led prior to all the rainouts. He had the idea of taking home the modified title this year, which he finished fifth only 58 points out of the top spot, and a couple other titles on the national level.

For Kimball, though, it is what it is. When he was able to race, Kimball was almost always in contention for a win, especially in mini stocks.

“Our goal was to win the national youth, but once we had all that rain, we knew that was kind of done,” Kimball said.

Unfortunately, Kimball’s racing season came to an end a little sooner than he expected. After Monadnock Speedway wrapped up its year, Kimball was still competing in races on the North East Mini Stock Tour, but a crash at Lee USA Speedway in early October sent his Acura RSX to its winter home a little early. That will happen when the front left tire snaps off and sends you into a wall.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted it to end,” he said.

For mini stock, just about any car goes, as long as it has a four-cylinder engine and meets the guidelines. There were Mustangs, Saturns, Civics – whatever someone wants to work with.

“This car had a really good motor in it,” Kimball said. “It was a bit of struggle early on, but it got better and better.”

While Kimball has only had his license for less than two years, he’s been racing for more than 10. He started out with go carts in Claremont when he was 7, and dove in to mini stocks at age 13. He was 15 for his first modified race, and while he had NASCAR aspirations as a young kid, he realizes now it’s more of a hobby than the start of a professional racing career. But he still plans to race for a longtime, as long as he has a car and the people around him to support the weekly work that goes into it.

“It’s nice to succeed,” Kimball said. “And mini stocks is where I have the most fun.”

Kimball has a long list of sponsors that brought in about $5,000 for the season, led by the likes of Edmund’s Hardware and Trends of Fashion, owned by his aunt Paula, in Antrim. And that money goes right into the car, as does the prize money for his successful season. There’s the weekly routine maintenance, along with whatever pops up after a day at the track, two new tires every other week and the $13 per gallon cost for fuel.

“You get $200 for a win, but you spend more than that,” Kimball said.

His brother, David Elliott, owns the car and has put a lot of time and resources into making it a top notch racing machine. His dad Bill has been track champion on many occasions at Monadnock Speedway and is the one who first taught Kimball how to drive by going in forward and reverse in the family driveway. He’s gone 70 mph at the speedway and 120 at Loudon, but so far that hasn’t translated into any speeding tickets.

“Sometimes it does feel like you’re barely moving,” Kimball joked.

Elliott does most of the repairs, but Kimball is starting to learn more and more about cars as he gets further along in the Mascenic automotive program.

For the next few months, Kimball will forget about racing as winter takes over, but come February, he’ll start to get that itch again. The next season begins in April and Kimball will be ready to defend his title.

“I’ve been around it my whole life,” Kimball said. “And in my family, we win a lot.”

And maybe he’ll check off a few more of those other goals he had lined up for this year – if  Mother Nature decides to cooperate.