Matt Long, #55, takes on a rival in a late model Dirt Track race.
37-year-old, Concord, North Carolina resident Matt Long is immersed in racing. Not only does he compete in late model dirt track racing events from West Virginia to Georgia, he also is involved in the business of racing as the Senior Director of Business Development at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. He has been selling sponsorships and luxury seats tickets for the track for 12 years.
On weekends, when there are no races scheduled at Charlotte, he's off racing with his team. He tries to compete in 35 to 40 races a year that are sanctioned by a variety of organizations including SECA, FUEL, and Fastrak. He also participates in a few unsanctioned events. He has earned more than 20 wins during his racing career.
Because of his job, it is difficult for him to compete for points championships. However, he does focus on three to four major events a year including the Outlaw Showdown held at Charlotte Speedway during the weekend of the Coke 600; the Shriners Benefit events; the Pro Nationals on Labor Day weekend at the Wythe Raceway in Rural Retreat, Virginia; and the Fasttrak Grand Nationals at the Virginia Motor Speedway, in Jamaica, Virginia.
His most memorable racing moments include being a two-time winner of the Shrine 100 at the Carolina Speedway, in Gastonia, North Carolina, and winning several Fastrak Regional Touring Events. Born in Cambridge, Ohio, Long's first memories are watching his father, Tye Long, race late models.
"I went with my grandparents to the race track to watch my dad race. He would race two to three nights a week," said Long. His dad raced for 25 years and won about 300 races. "I grew up in a racing family," he continued. "I didn't race myself until much later, but I got involved in my father's team recruiting and working with sponsors and helping to maintain the car."
His work on his dad's team was instrumental in his decision to study the business of racing in college and to go on to graduate school at Ohio University, where he received two masters degrees –- one in Sports Administration and the other in Business.
Part of the graduate school requirements was enrolling in a two to three month internship. He satisfied the requirement working in the Corporate Sales Department at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The track hired him fulltime after he earned his degree.
Matt Long, friends and crew stand with his trophy after a victory at the Friendship Motor Speedway, in Elkin, North Carolina.
He started racing after getting the job with the speedway and "got some money in my pocket," he said. His racing team, Matt Long Racing, includes friends and family, some of whom have made their own mark in racing.
The group includes his wife, Amber Long and their 2-year-old daughter Madison. The crew chief is Matthew Logan, who is also the Dirt Market Specialist for JRi Shocks, and has done some late model racing; Brian Lambert, who was a dirt track racer; and Travis Bennett, a graduate of NASCAR Technical school.
Companies sponsoring Long include K&N Filters, Mello Yello, Circle K Convenience Stores, Polar Pop, Heintz Brothers Performance, Team Clay, FK Rod Ends, VP Racing Fuels, Fragola Performance Systems, Port City Racing, Keyser Manufacturing, JRi Shocks, Stock Car Steel & Aluminum, SRI Supplies, Flag to Flag, Accu-Force, Hoosier Tire South, Dirtwrap, Jim Cook Transmissions, ButlerBuilt, and Simpson.
Long added that K&N Filters has been sponsoring him for 9 years. "I've been using their big 14 x 5 air cleaner filters and their valve cover breathers," he said. "I've had great results with the products. I have a great relationship with those guys."
He volunteered that his dad used K&N racing products, but was not sponsored by the company. He added, "I learned how to clean K&N air filters when I was 8 years old."
Long noted that there are about 25 more races on his schedule including the Shrine 100, the Pro Nationals, and the Fasttrak Grand Nationals. He plans to continue racing after this season. "I plan to race as long as I have the fortitude to do it, I can afford to do it, and as long as I have the time to do it," he concluded.