WINDHAM — Across the broad spectrum of support-class racing here in Maine, dozens of working class stiffs slave away all week so they can suit up, strap in and go racing on the weekends.

For 39-year-old Matty Sanborn, short track racing is as much a social outing as it is a competition. A UPS delivery driver by day, Sanborn competes in the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Modified division, and says he has a blast wherever he lands. 

“Everybody wants to win, but I do this just for fun,” Sanborn said. “When I was a little boy sitting in the grandstands, I used to cheer for the guy who got a couple of trophies a year.

“Today, I am that guy. It feels really good to be running near the front this year, but I’d be having a great time either way. I just love to race.”

Sanborn has run six of the seven PASS Modified races held thus far in 2017. He missed the season opener to attend his daughter’s birthday party. No surprise when you discover how much he loves his family.

In those six starts, he’s led several laps, earned two top-five finishes and posted four top 10s.

“Just being able to run with guys like Ben Tinker, Andy Shaw and Scott Alexander is a good feeling,” Sanborn added. “I’m probably not going to pass them on the outside, but if I can run with them, or hold them off for a second or third place finish, that’s like a win for me. Just to be in the ballpark is great.”

While he did take a year or two off along the way, Sanborn has been racing various types of cars around this state for 20 years. He started out in the Wildcat division at Beech Ridge in 1995. From there, he’s been strapped into a number of different vehicles.

“I had a lot of fun and met a lot of good people in my early days at Beech Ridge,” he explained. “I dabbled in Street Stocks and Limited Sportsman, but never really finished that well. In 2002, I bought a Late Model for Oxford.”

Sanborn’s road to the open-wheel cars featured a car swap, not the usual path to Modified racing.

“I traded my old Pro Late Model even with Travis Buzzell for a PASS Modified car in late 2014,” he said. “I’ve been in love with these cars ever since. I’m big on this class, because it’s a great place for a lot of us.”

Like his counterparts in the PASS Modifieds and in every other support division, Sanborn has a few key individuals who keep his racing program moving forward. Nobody is a one-man show in this sport.

“I have to thank my parents, Randy and Carol, for all they do for me,” he explained. “My father is out there with us in the Mods, running around at the back, yet having a blast doing it. He and mom have not only provided financial support but tons of moral support over the years. I can’t thank them enough.

“I also have a close friend, Kyle Jordan, who puts in an amazing effort for my team. He’s always there when needed, and is a pretty good little mechanic. I’m also lucky to have Tony Ricci, of Ricci Race Cars. He built my car and is always willing to help out. The car is strong, he did a great job on it.”

Among the list of fine marketing partners on board Sanborn’s No. 64 Modified machine is RN Craft, Inc., of South Portland. Sanborn says the relationship goes far beyond that of team owner and sponsor. 

“I really appreciate having Bob’s support of my race team,” Sanborn said. “I can talk to him like a life-long friend, he is so kind and open. I also have Chip’s Service Center, of Portland. Owner Jason Webster is also a dear friend, and I place a lot of value in his support. He does a lot for local racers.

“I have to thank Kyle Nicely, of Nicely Built Racing Engines. His horsepower and reliability are second to none, so I couldn’t run as strong as I am lately without his support. I also appreciate the support of J&J Naturals. I’m blessed to have all these great folks helping me and am proud to represent them.”

One conversation with Sanborn in the pit area shows how much he loves to race. And a lot of that enthusiasm comes from the division in which he races. Yes, Matt Sanborn is the poster boy for PASS Modifieds. He’ll tell you how they are fairly affordable, yet have a huge “fun factor.”

“This division has rejuvenated my career,” he said. “It’s just a great fit for me. The technology is advanced but not crazy expensive, like shocks on a Super Late Model, for example. These cars were designed for cost savings, but they are also very racy and have chassis adjustments close to what the big cars have. 

“They’re just a fun, exciting car to drive, and we have a great group of racers running them. I can’t afford to go Super Late Model racing these days, but I still love to race. This class satisfies my love for speed, yet doesn’t break the bank.”

As the 2017 season starts to wind down, Sanborn is happy and ready to accept whatever comes his way.

“What’s nice about this level of racing, and I think a lot of people forget this today, is that you don’t have to win to feel accomplished. It’s where you start and where you finish.

“If I start way out back but manage to finish fourth, I’ve had a great race. I’d love to earn another trophy this year, sure, but it won’t kill me if I don’t.”

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Matty Sanborn
Matty Sanborn, of Windham, drives off Turn 4 at Oxford Plains Speedway earlier this season. Sanborn is having a blast racing the open-wheeled machine and has run among the leaders on several occasions in 2017.  

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