Prior to the fall race weekend at Martinsville in 2019, Matt Tifft was one of the promising, young racers in the NASCAR Cup Series. It seemed like he had a solid career ahead of him.
However, the Ohio native suffered a seizure prior to race day at Martinsville, sidelining him for the rest of the year. After suffering another seizure in December 2019, Tifft focused on his health and the next steps of his life.
“There is no doubt that I always have racing in the back, and at some points, the forefront of my mind,” Tifft observed. “It is extremely frustrating at times to see what happened and knowing where things were going when the first episode happened. However, it has opened doors on the other side of being able to help my wife open a business, spend more time at home and travel as well.
“I think the biggest thing is for me, it is easy to get down, so the challenge is to stay positive and keep on moving forward. Whether it was medical, professional or something else in my life I faced, I go with the attitude that there is a reason for everything, and you can not only learn from it, but make you a stronger person in the end.”
Tifft’s strength and support system drew him back to the track but not as a driver.
Instead, Tifft partnered with friend and fellow NASCAR competitor B.J. McLeod to create Live Fast Motorsports, a new NASCAR Cup Series team set to compete this season.
“I’ve talked of many years down the road wanting to be an owner in the sport,” Tifft said. “I love NASCAR. I always thought I’d love to be a part of that side post-driving. I didn’t think post-driving would come as quick as it did.”
If there was anyone in NASCAR who was tested to the core personally and professionally last year, it was Chase Briscoe, a third-generation sprint car racer from Mitchell, Indiana.
For starters, Briscoe survived a roller-coaster experience in 2018 before recording his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at Iowa Speedway in 2019.
Last year, Briscoe started his NASCAR Xfinity Series campaign with a pair of top-10 finishes along with a convincing victory at Las Vegas. When NASCAR returned to the track from the nearly two-month COVID-19 pause, Briscoe’s heart was a bit heavier after his wife, Marissa, suffered a miscarriage. All told, the young couple stood by each other and turned to their faith for strength and comfort.
Digging deep and staving off Kyle Busch for an emotional victory at Darlington in May, Briscoe kneeled by his car as he dedicated his win to his wife.
Scoring nine victories last year in the Xfinity Series, Briscoe’s reach goes beyond his genuine connection to his faith to his fans with whom he consistently interacts on Twitter and Reddit.
“A perfect example is when I get on the plane, I’m going to load the race thread that’s on Reddit and I’ll go through every comment that’s good or bad,” Briscoe said. “If they’re bad, I’ll joke around with them and have fun with it. And the same with people that congratulate me. So, I’ve always enjoyed doing that.”
Briscoe opined that he needed to score eight wins in 2020 for his career to continue. In this case, Briscoe won nine times on various courses like Homestead, Pocono, the Indy road course, Dover and Bristol. Fittingly, the 25-year-old, who placed second in the championship chase, earned a promotion to the Cup Series, driving the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Ford Mustang.