Mitchell Going Silver Crown Racing with DMW Motorsports
Series News Release - USAC Media
Speedway, Indiana (April 4, 2023) - For more than half of his years, Matt Mitchell has been a fixture on the west coast as a regular competitor and winning driver on USAC’s CRA Sprint Car and Western States Midget circuits.
Now, in 2023, the 35-year-old Costa Mesa, Calif. resident is embarking on what he’s dubbed as a “bucket list” tour. He’s teamed up with DMW Motorsports to compete in all six dirt USAC Silver Crown events throughout the season as a teammate to fellow Californian Jake Swanson who’ll drive the No. 10 while Mitchell will wheel the No. 5.
Up first for Mitchell and DMW is the USAC Silver Crown season opener on Sunday night, April 16, at the Terre Haute Action Track in western Indiana, a dream come true for the veteran driver who is a heating and air conditioning contractor by day.
“I’ve always been friends with team owner Mickey (Meyer) and we’ve joked around about it,” Mitchell said. “I texted him like, “yo, when are we doing this?” He called me around October and offered me a chance to run all the dirt Silver Crown races. I told him I’d check with my wife and see if anything in my schedule would prevent it. There’s a little bit of traveling involved away from family, but she gave me the go-ahead and that was it.”
Mitchell, who owns nine career USAC CRA Sprint Car victories and two with the USAC Western States Midgets, will compete as a Rookie on the USAC Silver Crown series trail in 2023. However, he did make an all-too-brief appearance with the champ cars in 2007. It was so brief, in fact, you might not remember it. Nonetheless, it’s one that Mitchell certainly hasn’t forgotten, and he’s long sought an opportunity to get back.
That lone appearance 16 years ago came during the 4-Crown Nationals at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in a second BK Motorsports car as a teammate to three-time series champion Bud Kaeding. Mitchell was strong early, qualifying eighth in the 28-car field between Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and USAC Triple Crown champion Dave Darland. With that said, a mechanical issue suddenly reared its head and prevented Mitchell from starting the race.
“The fact that I was that close and didn’t get to start the race, that’s made me want to get back ever since,” Mitchell revealed.
Mitchell harbors no resentment, and instead, relishes the fact that this new opportunity, his racing experiences and the timing of it all are a perfect mesh to put himself in the best possible position to find success. Yet, he readily admitted that Silver Crown racing is a different animal, but he’s pumped to jump in with both feet.
“There’s definitely going to be a learning curve,” Mitchell admitted. “If I would’ve done this earlier in my career, I would’ve smoked the tires off it within the first 20 laps. So, this might actually be a blessing. I’m just looking forward to driving it and seeing what it’s all about.”
It’s been quite a turnaround for Mitchell over the past several seasons. Mitchell almost completely dropped out of racing in 2015 when business opportunities arose, and he sold all his sprint car equipment. He was able to race sporadically for Mike Burkhart in 2016-17, but in 2019, he got the itch again and began purchasing a car, engine and trailer to pick up where he left off. The team has already won once this season with USAC CRA at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway with Justin Grant at the wheel on March 18.
The Mitchell family name dates back three-quarters of a century ago when Matt’s grandfather, J.W. Mitchell, competed at Los Angeles, California’s Gilmore Stadium (now home to CBS Studio City) and other area tracks. Matt’s father, Nick Mitchell, got the mid-life bug to go USAC Western States Midget racing in the mid-1990s. Shortly thereafter, Matt’s uncle, J.W. Mitchell Jr., who had been competing with the American Indy Car Series, purchased a midget and got in on the action.
Tragedy struck the Mitchell family when J.W. Mitchell Jr. succumbed to injuries nine months after an incident during a USAC Western States event at California’s Kings Speedway in 1999. In the immediate aftermath, Matt took some time off, but by 2003, was back at it, making his USAC debut with the National/Western States Midgets at Arizona’s Tucson Raceway Park followed by a run in the Turkey Night Grand Prix and Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, finishing 20th.
All these years later, Mitchell now gets to experience a run in the big cars of the USAC Silver Crown series. It’s a dream that seemed so distant at one point, but has now become a reality for this upcoming season.
“I’ve been watching USAC Silver Crown racing throughout my whole career, and it just looks fun; just bucket list stuff,” Mitchell stated. “The challenge is just being there at the end. All the races last year, it seemed like there was a lead change within the last 20 laps. You need to keep your stuff underneath you until the end, and that’s a challenge for anybody. They’re 100-inch cars and they’re still open wheel, but it’s really unlike anything else.”
In fact, Mitchell also has planned to bring his sprint car team east during the month of June. He’ll drive the J.W. Mitchell Motorsports No. 37 when the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship hits Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway on June 2-3. From there, he’ll make his way to Indiana to compete on the sprint car side of things during USAC Indiana Midget Week June 4-11. Then, it’s on the road to Eastern Storm where Mitchell will take in the entire six-race USAC Sprint Car swing through Pennsylvania and New Jersey, all of which mark his first trip to race out east since USAC Indiana Sprint Week in 2012.