Meet Matt Juhl!

Meet Matt Juhl!
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Matt Juhl #09 410 Sprint Car Driver
by Joanne Cram

Tea, South Dakota’s Matt Juhl entered 2018 with decent momentum off of his 2017 season, where he raced full time at Knoxville Raceway. The 28 year old has high hopes of bettering his successes behind the wheel of his Rider-powered Maxim for this coming season. With a July 7 410 win, his season goals are falling into place.

Juhl grew up in a race family, his father helped on Gary Struby’s sprint cars for as long as Matt can recall. He and his childhood buddy, Nathan Spoo, dove into kart racing as soon as their dads could get them going. At age nine, both boys started racing competitively in flat karts, as well as cage karts. Matt’s most impressive memory was his first time out in the flat kart getting clipped, flipping backwards and standing the kart nearly perpendicular to the track. With the inevitable spectacular rookie race crash out of the way, Matt began to get the hang of flat kart racing; both with and without a cage. He competed for two years in the flat kart, then moved into the cage kart; competing both classes for two more years.

When English Creek began their QRC series south of Knoxville, Matt and his dad, Don, decided to head south from their Esterville, Iowa, hometown. When the series first began, they ran Saturday days, so Matt and Don were free to head to Knoxville Raceway to take in sprint car racing after kart races concluded. Matt remembers thinking to himself that some day, he would be in that Saturday night show. He was fourteen years old at the time, and had no idea just how close he would become to predicting his own future.

During this time, Matt and his dad were still doing some traveling closer to home as well; where Matt ran 2nd at the Pavement Nationals in Jamaica, Iowa. With English Creek’s wins and quick times, he was quickly learning the ropes around a dirt oval. Matt got 2nd in points both years he raced at English Creek.

Matt and his family discussed the possibility of going 360 racing when he turned 16, but with time, funding, and a busy high school schedule, the 360 race dreams were placed on hold.

Juhl quickly found his niche with track and cross country, excelling in mid distance runs. He continued to play basketball, but his focus remained on running. He was named the National Champion in the 4x8 in 2010 and went to Iowa Central College on a scholarship for his running efforts. From ICC, he went to Joplin Missouri to attend Missouri Southern, where he quickly realized the commute home every weekend to try and continue racing was not sustainable. Matt moved home to finish his degree at both Iowa Lakes and Southeast Tech, obtaining a psychology minor, with a graphic design major.

During his four year hiatus from sprint car racing, Matt never lost sight of his dreams of racing. Diving back into racing in 2010, Matt raced his 360 sprint car weekly at Jackson, Minnesota, winning his first ever feature on his eighth night out. In 2011, Matt decided to follow the JSTS traveling series, as well as weekly competition at Jackson. He won at Jackson, and ran 5th in points overall with JSTS.

By 2012, Matt had fallen into a groove, competing at Jackson Friday nights, and traveling between six to seven tracks with the JSTS. He had always had dreams of racing at Husets Speedway in South Dakota, and finally talked his dad into it. He ran 4th that night and fell in love with the track. Matt recalls the feeling of Husets being “elbows up all race long”, and he enjoyed the strong competition. He got runner-up podium finishes four times, never grasping that 1st place win. Juhl ran 3rd in points and received Rookie of the Year honors at the conclusion of the season.

The 2013 season found Juhl with a track championship at Husets Speedway, where he raced weekly. The 09 car would still hit races where ever they could, and followed the JSTS when the schedule aligned. Matt had 2 wins that season at Husets.

2014 was Juhl’s first time in a 410, running a handful of shows to get behind the wheel and gain some experience. He was competitive all season in the 360. With 2015, he mirrored the previous season gaining more experience with the 410.

2016 brought Juhl to a full season with the NSL. Matt recalls visiting a lot of new tracks, with solid top ten finishes most races. He had some motor issues that season, losing two 410s, and still raced the 360 for big shows when he could fit them into the schedule.

With his 14 year old dream of racing weekly at Knoxville becoming closer to a reality, Matt had finally convinced his dad and mom to make the weekly trek to Knoxville Raceway for a full season of 410 points racing. Between Friday nights at Jackson, and Saturdays at Knoxville, the team was busy trucking the freeway and maintaining cars. Juhl snagged his first Knoxville win in 2017, a dream of his since he was a young boy. He was competitive all year at both tracks, with several top three’s and a fourth place overall in points at Jackson. Juhl rounded out Knoxville competition in seventh place overall.

Coming into 2018, Matt and his Octane Ink, Krav’n Bar and Grill, Dan Mueller Group, A & W Trucking, and Checkered Flag Concessions team have high hopes to better their 2017 performance. He hopes to capture five feature wins throughout the 2018 season, and a top 5 in overall points at the track as well. He strives to do his best every time he hits the track. Matt is fortunate to have a flexible job (he is the owner and VP of production at Octane Ink), which allows him to travel and race. His plans for the coming season also include weekly racing at Knoxville and Jackson, and World of Outlaws shows when close enough to get to. There may be more opportunities for more 360 racing with the MSTS as well.

Down the road, Matt doesn’t count the chance of racing more with the All Stars or World of Outlaws out of his plans.

Matt feels fortunate to have a supportive crew and family behind him and supporting him along the way. His parents, Don and Terresa Juhl; sister, Brandy; and girlfriend, Aryn are fully behind his goals. Crew include long time buddy, Nathan Spoo, and Anthony Timmerman.

Look for great things coming out of the 09, Octane Ink car this season.