HASLET, Texas — In the ultra-competitive world of IMCA Stock Car racing across North and central Texas, it takes experience, good equipment and maybe even a little luck to win races. Most guys have big power and fast cars, so you better bring your best piece to the race track every week.
For 46-year-old veteran wheel-man Matt Guillaume, I-Stock is an ideal arena in which to showcase his skills. This year, he's notched four wins, 24 top-five and 30 top-10 finishes in 42 starts. While he may tell you he's having an off year, there are those who'd do anything for that much speed and consistency.
“Based on our history in this class, we're actually having an off year,” he said. “I say that because I've raced this class quite a bit, and from 2013 through 2015, we were averaging between 20 and 25 wins a year. Things are a lot different now, for both the division itself and my own race program.
“I sold my Modified last year, and we just slowed things down a little bit overall. I came back to the Stock cars, and have raced them exclusively this year. They call it the class too tough to tame, and certainly with the level of competition we have nowadays in Texas, the name is appropriate.”
Now in his 28th year of racing, Guillaume has one of the more interesting stories in his local area.
“I started racing two weeks after I got out of high school in May of 1995,” he explained. “I moved to Texas from Iowa back in 2007. I lived in Houston, so we were three hours away from the nearest track. We really honed our skills in the years leading up to 2013.
“We relocated up to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, so I was much closer to some race tracks. So instead of spending all of our money on diesel fuel to get there, we were able to spend some money on the car. We got our engine program where it needed to be, and started clicking off some really big wins.”
You see, when it all comes together for any racer, be it horsepower or handing, it's a mighty sweet deal.
“I think from 2013 to 2015, we went from 20-something total wins in the Stock car class to up over 100. And during that time frame, we traveled all around and had a blast. Those were our glory years.”
As mentioned above, the level of competition Guillaume faces in North Texas is as tough as it gets.
“It's super tough at any track you go to in this area,” he explained. “I've been lucky enough to win at a few different race tracks in the last couple of years, but there is some excellent competition at each one. And these days, everybody travels. Nobody is afraid to venture out and build on their experience.”
When Guillaume puts on his safety suit and gets ready to race, he climbs into a unique machine.
“We have a Big Johnson chassis here, built in about 2013 or 2014 I believe,” he said. “It's a great car and has all of the latest updates. These cars are called Cadillac now, but are still being built. As for power, I use Kevin Stoa at KS Engineering out of Albert Lea, Minnesota.
“His engines make plenty of power, and the reliability speaks for itself. You can get 80 races out of these things before they need to be freshened. You may pay a little more up front, but that durability will save money down the road. Our speed and consistency show how superior Kevin's engines are.”
Along with his years of experience, top-notch (they don't have to be new) race car and reliable motor, Guillaume also has some key partners on board who keep his program on-track and successful.
“I need to thank Kim and Jack Guillaume; La Mexicana Tortilla Factory; Dirt Defender, Stephenville Starter, All Pro Clutch and Driveline; KS Engineering and TSK Designs. I appreciate their support.”
With summer starting to wind down and weekly racing as well, Guillaume is looking forward to fall.
“We're coming up on my favorite time of year to go racing,” he explained. “The tracks are all great at scheduling their fall specials, and it allows you to just focus on one oval per weekend to get faster. We run for good money, and the top talent turns out so you can measure your program.
“It's a little cooler in the fall, so that's something to look forward to, especially this year. I like to race for big purses against the best drivers, and we'll get to do that this fall. I've never started a year off with the goal of chasing points, but if we stay consistent, we just may win a title this year. It's been good.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Mike Frieri