Just before one of the biggest races of his career, Matt Bertsch wanted to make sure his father, longtime Pro Stock standout Bob Bertsch, knew something.
Matt was preparing to race John DeFlorian in the ADRL Extreme Pro Stock finals at the Summer Drags last weekend at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park, but before he performed his burnout, Matt shared a simple message to his father.
“I got on the radio and told my dad that I wanted to make sure he understood how thankful I was for this opportunity. This is a great opportunity and I just wanted to make sure he knew how grateful I was for it,” Matt said.
In a matchup of first-time ADRL finalists, DeFlorian claimed his first ADRL winning, running a 4.086 at 174.78 mph to Bertsch’s 4.12 at 174 mph, but this all remains a thrilling ride for Bertsch in his rookie ADRL campaign.
He’s driving the yellow and black Mustang his father has successfully campaigned both in the IHRA (3 event wins) and ADRL, but Bob officially handed the reins to his son in 2012.
After the expected feeling-out period in a loaded XPS class, Bertsch has shined in the past two events, advancing to the semifinals at the U.S. Drags in June and the finals at his home track in Martin, Mich. last weekend.
The younger Bertsch has thrown himself into the conversation for the ADRL Rookie of the Year in 2012 in the process.
“Dad said he wanted me to have a shot at it, but I told him I would do it only if I knew he was done,” Matt said. “I’ve never raced at this level before, but he said we needed to try this.
“Hopefully with us doing well the last couple races, it’s helped him with the transition. This is a passion for me and my father, and doing it together helps us excel a little bit, I think.”
Matt is no stranger to the Pro Stock scene, having worked with Bob for a number of years. But he had not driven for more than five years – and certainly nothing with the power of a Mountain Motor Pro Stock car – when the opportunity arose to drive his father’s car.
Still, he had years of experience bracket racing and even dabbled in some top sportsman racing, hoping for a shot one day to drive a Pro Stock car. That opportunity came this year when Matt was officially licensed during a test session in March at U.S. 131.
“I’m a door car guy and Pro Stock is the class you want to compete in if you’re a door car guy. I’m just very thankful for this opportunity. It’s pretty amazing,” Matt said.
“These cars a lot different from anything that I’ve drove. It took a little bit of time to get used to the clutch, but I’m doing very well with the reaction times and it’s amazing how smooth these cars are.”
Bertsch made his ADRL debut at Bristol in April, but did not qualify for that race or the next one at Maple Grove a month later.
The family-based team kept at it, though, and had a major breakthrough a week later at the 34th Annual Mountain Motor Nationals at Maryland International Raceway. There, Bertsch advanced to the finals, running at 6.25 at 222 mph in the quarter-mile.
He lost to Cary Goforth in the final, but it was the Goforth family who offered a tremendous hand.
“We owe a lot to Team Goforth,” Matt said. “We were struggling and Dean (Goforth), Cary and (crew chief Brian) Lump (Self) all asked what they could do to help. They wanted to see us do well.
“It’s a great group of guys, and there’s just great people in this Pro Stock class. The help we’ve received has been tremendous.”
Since Maple Grove, Bertsch has qualified in the past three events, topping it off with standout performances in Richmond and Martin, losing to the eventual winners in both races.
Bertsch hopes the best is yet to come.
“We plan to continue to learn something new at every race, keep improving and hopefully get a win,” Bertsch said. “If we keep building on what we’ve got, we’ll have a good time.
“But it is already fun because I’m doing this with (his father).”
All articles and photography published in CompetitionPlus.com are protected by United States of America and International copyright laws unless mentioned otherwise. The content on this website is intended for the private use of the reader and may not be published or reposted in any form without the prior written consent of CompetitionPlus.com.
|< Prev||Next >|