One to Watch: Matt Lisa

When you ask an accomplished drag racer, one who’s been at this a long time and has known a fair measure of success, just who they think we should be watching…. You listen. So naturally, when one of the Northeast’s finest – diverse driver Anthony Fetch – named Matt Lisa as an up-and-comer, we took note. Shortly thereafter, we were pleased as punch to have an opportunity to chat with 25-year-old Lisa. Check out our interview with the young gun from earlier this year.

WinLight News: Where do you call home, Matt?
Matt Lisa: I live in New Jersey, and I’m currently finishing up college at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and staying with my parents. I was staying down by school, but because of the pandemic, I’ve been home the past year.

WLN: What’s your course of study?
ML: Mechanical Engineering.

WLN: Okay, here’s the question you’re going to get asked the most. How long have you been drag racing?
ML: I started when I was eight years old, racing Jr. dragsters. I moved up on my 17th birthday. My dad [Joe Lisa] gave me the keys to his Nova. It was a lot of excitement, but also a lot of nervousness. He’s had that car since he was 17 years old, and it felt like a huge honor being the one to drive it.

Premium parking at Maple Grove Raceway for Team Lisa

WLN: What kind of events do you normally race?
ML: I’ve mostly been to local bracket races, divisionals, and nationals. I raced the Southern Sportsman Showdown in March with the G/SA ’83 Camaro owned by Kenny Richard, and it was my first big dollar race. I’d never raced anything quite that scale before. It was exciting, and it’s really refreshing to see the direction Sportsman racing is going. It was the best of the best racers, and that’s the kind of competition we like.

WLN: You’re not new to this, though. What have you been proud of in your career, so far?
ML: The first or second time I drove the Nova when I was 17, I won a bracket race at Island Dragway. I remember seeing and hearing my dad and how proud he was. Then again, when I won the division race at Lebanon Valley in Kenny Richard’s car, that was my first Wally, and both of my parents were there for that one. It was really special for me.

Matt Lisa with his dad, veteran racer Joe Lisa, at Lebanon Valley

WLN: What do you see in your future, in terms of drag racing?
ML: I think more and more people are going to be racing in the big dollar races, and I’m just kind of following the competition and the trend. Our racing program has been making turns toward going to more bracket racing events, but in the ideal world, we’d do both NHRA and those type of races. My dad and I drive five cars between us [three stock/super stock entries, two bracket cars], so we definitely have the facilities to do both.

WLN: Who makes up your support system at the races?
ML: Kenny Richard, the car owner, he never misses an event. My mom, Pam – she does a lot for me and my dad, even though she doesn’t get a lot of recognition. She makes sure we’re fed, have clothes, that the motorhome is ready. She’s a big part of the team, and she deserves recognition.

The Lisa family celebrate victory

WLN: What do you love about drag racing?
ML: I’m a competitor. I love winning. For me, I started racing at eight, and it’s just the competition and getting better race after race, year after year. I want to be the best that I can be, and that’s what drives me. I want to win.

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