CAMBRIDGE, Wis. - FOX6 News is profiling sports figures from Wisconsin who have been selected for their respective Halls of Fame during 2022. FOX6's Tim Van Vooren drops the green flag with a NASCAR standout who went from teenaged phenom to Winston Cup champion.
FOX6's Tim Van Vooren: "You've accomplished so much in your career. The age of 50 is kind of a reflective point for a lot of people. How do you reflect on what you've done to this point, knowing that a lot of life is ahead of you?"
"Yeah, I mean, turning 50 sucked," said Matt Kenseth. Turning 30 was tough for me. Forty wasn't bad, but 50 was really bad, so I am still trying to get over that. I am only a few months into that, so there is something about hitting that number that was psychologically damaging to see. I am trying to get past that, but certainly, I do look back a lot more than I used to."
FOX6's Tim Van Vooren: "I have always loved your candor, never more so than right there. Great answer. As a guy who always just kind of focuses on what's next, is it difficult to reflect on all you've done and your body of work?"
"You know, I am always a guy who dwells more on my mistakes than celebrates my successes, which is a bad thing, especially when you're done racing because there's no, why dwell on that now; however, I will say getting older and not being a full-time driver, it's taken me a few years to really accept the fact that that part of my life is over, and that ship has sailed and I'm never going to be a professional race car driver again," said Kenseth. "With that being said, I am in a much better place than I was maybe two years ago or maybe three years ago. Certainly, being elected into the Hall of Fame has brought a little more reflection. Heard from a lot of people and thought about all the people that have helped me and all the fun stories, fun times we had racing and different people you've met, different places you've been, all that kind of stuff."
FOX6's Tim Van Vooren: "So where do you get your camaraderie fix now, Matt?"
"I think drop-off line at school," said Kenseth. "I have a buddy down here. We like to race to school a little bit. Actually, he doesn't like to race. Whenever I see him, I make sure I beat him to school. I don't really have any emptiness right now like I need to be racing, or I need to be doing something else. I know something else is going to come along professionally that I will end up doing sooner or later."
FOX6's Tim Van Vooren: "How about physically? I know you've done a lot of physical competitions since racing, has that been an outlet for you?"
"It really has," said Kenseth. "That's been really good for me. I do need some structure and some competition in my life. So yeah, training for marathons is very time-consuming, very taxing. There's a lot that goes with it. You don't have a car, but there's still a ton of research to do about what makes you faster, what makes you more efficient – diet, and sleep, and different training regiments and researching all this stuff, so that's been fun. It's been fun for me to have kind of a schedule. I did the Boston Marathon in April, and right now, I am a few weeks into training. I plan on running the London Marathon in October, so yeah, that's been keeping me busy. That kind of fulfills the competitive part for me at the moment. It's always working to not just run 26.2 miles but to do it to the best of my ability and to have nothing left when I am done."
FOX6's Tim Van Vooren: "I have seen you race as a kid. I remember seeing you at Columbus 151. I saw you racing over there, a young buck on the way up. How much better did you get, as a driver, just doing it?"
You know, it's funny," said Kenseth. "I ran my first race at Columbus 151 Speedway. Everybody starts at different times, so I think things move around. When I started racing, I never drove a car at all until I was 16, where now, it's like people are starting at 5, running quarter midgets and stuff. I mean, when you're young, you have tons of raw talent, but typically, you don't have tons of discipline. You don't do all the rest of the things right when it comes to eating, or fitness, or sleeping, or studying, or testing or whatever it is, right? You're pretty carefree."
FOX6's Tim Van Vooren: "What do you miss most about driving every week and being at that top level?"
"I would say mostly the camaraderie – going to work with your crew chief, and your engineers, and your team guys, and going to lunch, and winning races and seeing their faces in victory lane," said Kenseth. "I mean, the driving wasn't even really my favorite part. It was all the rest of it – trying to figure out how to get your car faster than everybody else's, trying to figure out how to have a better strategy than everybody else, how not to make mistakes. All those things, that was kind of my favorite."
FOX6's Tim Van Vooren: "Are you a speech guy? What are you going to do Hall of Fame night?"
"My least favorite honestly, is giving a speech, for sure, and I think it's like that for everybody, even the people that are good at it, so I don't necessarily look forward to that," said Kenseth. "I mean, you kind of do, but you don't. I think the biggest thing I am looking forward to is just for my family to be able to experience it all. Like, my kids, they don't really remember it much, especially my youngest ones. They weren't really at the track very much, and when they were, they don't remember anything about it, so I think that'll be the neatest part – for them to kind of come, and share that and kind of see me up there."
Matt's induction night is Jan. 20, 2023, in Charlotte. That's a long way from his early days for the native of Cambridge, Wisconsin.