Pushing tin

Matt Beckett at full-throttle in his rookie season

Overcoming obstacles is something Matt Beckett, a Craig resident and business owner, has been doing for quite some time. Only this time, his latest challenge doesn't come in the form of beating drug and alcohol abuse, but rather, other drivers on the racetrack.

Beckett, a rookie at the Hayden Speedway, is turning heads with his sharp ability to navigate the track.

He's spent his past sitting on a barstool. Now, he thinks he has defeated his longtime substance abuse problems. Activities such as racing help him do it, he said.

"I needed hobbies other than sitting in the bar," Beckett said.

Beckett is cool, calm and collected behind the wheel. Despite being a first-year driver, he deftly maneuvers his No. 14 car around the track with the ease of a veteran.

Running in the third heat of the modified class Friday night, Beckett took the checkered flag to secure himself a spot in the main event, proof that his most recent venture as a racecar driver suits him well.

Beckett is currently clinging to fourth place among all Speedway drivers. His rookie season has turned out to be a rewarding one, he said.

"I didn't get into racing until I was sober for about a year," said Beckett, the owner of Sign Source and Precision Screenprinting in Craig. "Be----fore I started driving, I helped sponsor Sam Johnston and Greg Kolbaba. It looked like too much fun, so I decided to drive."

Although he's new to the track, Beckett is handling himself well with the more experienced drivers from the area.

Behind H.D. Craig, Nicholas Craig and Chance Harms, Beckett has an outside shot at becoming the points leader by the end of the season.

"I've been learning every time I come out," Beckett said. "I am tired of getting second place, though. When you put all that work in the week before, and you come out and run well, it's like telling the other drivers "you could have stayed home and watched TV."

One thing that Beckett loves about racing is the pre-race preparation.

"I love the garage talk, and I love working on my car," Beckett explained.

Along with using racing to keep himself in check, he gives a lot of credit to his family, for supporting him through the rough patches.

"My family is a big part of me being sober," Beckett said. "And now I don't have money to drink at the bar (because) it all goes into my car."

The adrenaline rush that goes along with racing is another factor that helps Beckett keep the pedal to the metal.

"If the car is going good, and I don't make any rookie mistakes halfway through the race, it'd be nice," Beckett said. "When you're out there, you get to go as fast as you want and run into stuff -- and not get a ticket."

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