Unbuckled: Getting to Know Matt White


Hometown: Northfield, VT

Division: Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models

Car: White’s Heating Inc. #42VT Chevy

2018 Season: 7 top-10s in 12 starts (combined Thunder Road and ACT Late Model Tour)

What are your favorite hobbies outside of racing?

I’d have to say going on vacation – if that’s a hobby. (Laughs) I don’t have too many other good hobbies, but I like going on vacation and going out to dinner. I love going doing to Florida during the winters, especially down to the Key West area. I also like going to the lakes around here.

What do you do for work?

Me and my wife own an oil heating business. We deliver fuel oil, diesel fuel, and kerosene. We also have service techs and we do 24-hour service pretty much all around central Vermont. We’ve been very fortunate in business and we’ve been able to enjoy that, and then we spend a little money come summer on the race car and enjoy that, too.

What are your racing plans for 2019?

I haven’t sat down with the guys yet. Our plan is to sit down in the garage and talk it over to figure out what they want to do. My plan is to definitely start the year at Thunder Road and the ACT Tour. The Tour last year looked really inviting to me. We started it, but my youngest daughter graduated and we couldn’t make one race, and then after that, we kind of just quit midstream, I guess. This year, there’s a chance that we might run some of the Tour and then just back it up with some Thunder Road stuff, and also possibly run a few PASS races with the Super Late Model. But it’s all really to be determined at this point. I’m definitely going to start at Thunder Road and possibly start some of the Tour races, though.

How did your experience starting the year on the ACT Tour last season compare to the weekly racing you’re used to?

The Tour was actually a blast. We were having a lot of fun, the crew liked it, everything was good. It’s a little bit tougher to find crew members that want to travel on the weekends, but as long as all the races lined up, we were having fun, and we were actually having some success. The biggest problem with me over the years is that we’ve jumped around a lot and we haven’t really put full seasons together. We started a lot of seasons, and then things have happened. We’ve wrecked a few cars pretty badly, and it’s kind of screwed up our plans over the years. This year, I’d like to run one of the two (Thunder Road or ACT) full-time and possibly the other one just part-time. The Tour would be a blast for us, and we would have fun. I just need to talk to the crew members and see who I would have to do it. It’s definitely easier to get a crew at Thunder Road.

What was the highlight of the 2018 season for you?

I would say the highlight this year was just running competitively when we did race. Showing up on Thursday nights, we had to start last every week because we were part-time, but we were competitive and we were able to work our way to the front. We didn’t get a lot of the finishes we wanted to – we were starting dead last every week and finishing around 10th or 12th. I think that, if we were starting 10th or 12th, maybe we could have done that much better. Another highlight was just working with all my friends and doing a lot of our own stuff. It was fun.

How did you get started in racing?

Back in the ‘80s, my father raced, so me and my brother were up at the racetrack every Thursday night. We raced Thunder Road and we raced up at Plattsburgh (Airborne) weekly with my father back in the Flying Tiger days. After he got done racing, I kind of just walked away from it – that was it. I didn’t do it for years. Then one year, we decided to do the Enduro. We bought a car and me and buddies built it for the race, and we went up there and won the Enduro. After that, it was just like, “I’m hooked”. So we bought a Tiger car for the next year and raced that, and we’ve been doing it ever since. Sometimes I think it was too bad that I got hooked on it, but we’ve made a lot of friends. I have so many friends up there now.

Can you tell me about your family?

My father is Wayne White, and like I said, he raced back in the ‘80s. My brother Chad White has raced down at Devil’s Bowl. He’s also been to Thunder Road a few times – he’s raced out in Indiana, too. They’re both around, and they’ve worked on my car – my brother still works on my car quite a bit. Then I have my wife Mandy, and I have two girls. Kyla is my oldest and Kyra’s the youngest. They all come to the races. It’s kind of like a big family event for us. My mom comes to every race, and my mother- and father-in-law come to every race, and my step-mother-in-law comes, so every race pretty much all of us are there.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment to be?

Racing has been a lot of fun. I’ve had a blast doing it. On that front, it’s just been successful racing. I can’t say I’ve won a ton of races, but when we show up we’re at least competitive, and we’re having fun. We’ve been successful in business, and that’s been fun. But really, it’s been about enjoying the people that are around it. Enjoying the people around my business, enjoying the people around racing, and having fun with those guys. When we show up and do well, that’s even better, but it’s just about having fun.

Do you have anyone that you consider a role model or that you look up to?

For pretty much all of my racing, between Pete Duto and Matt Goslant, those are the two that have really helped me as far as the chassis, and I’ve become really good friends with both of those guys. It’s been fun to look up to those guys. But even looking way, way back in the days, I was always a Beaver Dragon fan and Randy MacDonald fun. Just growing up around all those – I guess you could say “old timers” – that was fun. Today’s day and age, it’s mostly looking up to a bunch of my friends. I enjoy hanging with them at the track, and in that regard, it’s mainly Matt and Pete.

What’s the most memorable trip you ever went on?

I’d say it was the first time I went to Key West. I got my wife a trip down there one year for Christmas, and we went down. It’s been one of those things where we’ve just enjoyed it, it’s probably our favorite place we’ve ever been, and now we go back as often as we can.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

It would probably be to be able to read people’s minds. So much in life today is left unsaid – people hold back so much, and you never know where people really stand. It’d just be nice to know where you stand with people. I think at times, it would make life a little harder, but at the same time, it’d be nice see where you stand and see who your real friends are.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

That’s a tough thing; in life, there’s a lot of things that can annoy you if you let them. But I guess I’d say people who don’t follow through is one the things that annoys me the most. People that say they’re going to be there and they don’t show up, or say they’re going to help you and then they’re not there to help.

What are the top three items on your bucket list?

As far as racing goes, I’d love to win a Tour race and be competitive on the Tour level. That’s definitely a big one there. I’d also love to be competitive in the last segment of the Milk Bowl and get a chance to go for a win there. In life, I think it’s just to be able to work as I can, and when it’s time to retire, actually have enough set aside to be able to enjoy my life. Maybe own a winter house somewhere and be able to enjoy my winters. So I guess that’d be my biggest goal in life, is just to be able to work and then enjoy my time off when I finally get to the point where I can retire.

Finish this sentence: on a Friday night, you’ll typically find me….

Drinking a couple beers and having some appetizers somewhere in town.

Who is your biggest fan at the track?

I would have to say my family. Definitely my family. Racing is tough enough to get people up there to help you out, but if your wife and your kids aren’t behind you, it would be an even tougher sport. My wife and both my girls are 100 percent behind me. At times, I say to myself, “I think they like it more than I do”. They don’t have to work on the car every week, but they put up with me working on. The girls are just into it, and they love it. It’s something that we enjoy doing. I’d race every night of the week if I didn’t have to work on it all the time. (Laughs)

Who or what has had the greatest influence on your racing career?

That’s a tough one. Probably my brother Chad. He always keeps me going. I’m the one that, come winter, all I can do is concentrate on working – work, work, work with the business. And my brother is always ahead of the game. He’s the one looking ahead asking, “Where are we going to race? Where are we going to do this?” If it wasn’t for him pushing me to continue on and building me up to someone who’s probably better than I really am, I wouldn’t be able to do it. He’s always there for me, and he’s always pushing and wants me to race more and more. I look up to the way he does things.

If you could pass along one piece of advice or a life lesson to your younger self, what would it be?

If I could do it again, it’s to not be afraid of a challenge. Everybody in life is always afraid. Starting a business – “Oh, what if this fails?” Buying a race car – “What if we can’t afford it?” If it’s something you really want to do, and you really work hard, just put 110 percent into it as much as you can and maybe start a little sooner than I did at both my business and racing. It’d have been nicer to start both five years earlier. Don’t be afraid of the challenge – that’s the biggest thing. Everybody today, they want to do something. They want to buy a house, but, “oh, I can’t do it right now.” Just don’t be afraid of the little stuff and work as hard as you can.

Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?

Hopefully I’m still successful in business and still going out to dinner and going on vacation as much as I can. If my health is still good – and obviously it is now; at least, I don’t see a problem with my health – I would just as soon be up at Thunder Road racing. Five years from now, maybe it’s not going to be full-time, but as long as we can still putter in it and have fun.

What would you do with your life if you never had to worry about money again?

I’d definitely like having the same things to come back to. I’d still vacation as much as I could. I’ve always wanted to get my license to fly a plane – I’d probably fly myself here and there and go to some races. I’d also have a nice beach house down in Florida and just enjoy myself.