Story By: KYLE SOUZA / STAN MERTZ RACING – WHITINSVILLE, MA – Stan Mertz Racing announced on Tuesday plans for what will be a busy 2022 season for the Massachusetts based team in Tour-Type Modified competition.
The team will operate with two different drivers – led by Matt Galko – who will join the team for nine of 10 scheduled events. Woody Pitkat, who has been with Stan Mertz Racing and produced a championship and wins for the team since 2015, will also continue to drive the car for one special event.
Pitkat and Mertz have come to a mutual agreement to separate from working together full-time for 2022. Pitkat has the opportunity to work with Doug Dunleavy on a new Modified team that is going to rapidly grow, with the anticipation of racing for a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship down the road. Mertz, who is looking to wind down his career in the next few years, is looking to give someone a chance to race at a high-level who deserves an opportunity.
Pitkat will drive the No. 6 Modified at Claremont Motorsports Park in the Memorial Day weekend special worth $10,000 to win on Friday, May 27, 2022. Galko will drive the car in all remaining races – a total of nine – as the team prepares for another rigorous season of racing against stout competition in the Northeast Modified scene.
Pitkat and Mertz have many moments to remember – including winning the Thompson Speedway Sunoco Modified championship and a win in Stafford Motor Speedway’s Twisted Tea Open Modified race. But their friendship and relationship off the track will continue for years to come.
“Nothing changes in our relationship, the only thing that will change is when we go to the track he will have a different driver in his car and I’ll be in a different car,” Pitkat said. “I told him if you need help in the shop, help loading up and I’m available… I’ll be there if I can be. Life is too short to mess up a friendship over racing. I wish nothing but the best to Stan and his team and I appreciate everything he has done for me. I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without having him as a car owner. At the time he started having me drive for him, I hadn’t really proved myself to a Tour-Type Modified car owner.”
“When I won the Modified Racing Series championship, Stan called me when he realized I didn’t have a ride at the end of the year and I was in contention and just told me, let’s go to the race. We went to Lee and I won the first of twin races before it rained and that was Stan’s first really big Modified win. It just showed me how much he cared about me to try and help me win the championship. I won that championship because of Stan. I had nothing and he was right there to help me.”
“Woody has a true opportunity to build a great group and I’m happy to see him do that with Doug Dunleavy,” team owner Stan Mertz said. “Woody has been a crucial part of our success and together, we have many accomplishments to look back on and feel thankful for together. Off the track, our friendship will continue to grow for years to come. We look forward to having him race with us at Claremont in what should be a great event at a tough track.”
Galko, a former two-time SK Light Modified champion at Stafford Motor Speedway, will join the team and pilot the Mertz Racing entry for all of Stafford Motor Speedway’s Open Modified events and three Tri Track Open Modified Series races. The partnership will begin with Galko wheeling the No. 6 machine in the 50th annual NAPA Spring Sizzler at Stafford on April 23-24, 2022.
“Matt is going to fit-in well with our team and his skill-set will allow us to compete at a high-level to strive for Victory Lane every time we hit the track in 2022,” Mertz continued. “When we go to the track, we are ready to race for the win. When you look at our schedule and see all of the Stafford races we are planning on running, if it wasn’t Woody, my obvious choice would be Matt to race my car at such a historic track. Matt has plenty of proven success at Stafford and I’ve watched him for many years. We’re excited to bring him to the team for 2022.”
Galko is no stranger to success behind the wheel of a Modified. The 28-year-old Mechanical Engineer by trade began his racing career in Quarter Midgets, winning numerous races and championships. He continued his racing career on dirt at Whip City Speedway, before moving to the Modifieds at Stafford. He was awarded the 2010 Rookie of the Year in the SK Light Modifieds, and also won the track championship. One year later, he was at the top of the division once again – capturing a second straight title, where he stands as the only driver to win back-to-back championships in the competitive class.
Matt also finished third in the 2011 NASCAR Division III National Championship battle, won the 2012 SK Modified Rookie of the Year at Stafford, and has been competitive in Tour Open Modified events at Stafford and other tracks in the Northeast region. He also won the NASCAR “Rookie of the Race” award in the 2019 NAPA Fall Final at Stafford.
On top of the five planned Stafford Open Modified races, Mertz racing will compete with the Tri Track Open Modified Series in three events – led by the 11th annual Star Speedway SBM Classic at Star Speedway on July 23, 2022. Events will also include the Tri Track Classic at Stafford on September 24 and the Haunted Hundred event at Seekonk Speedway on October 22, 2022.
One race remains as a TBA on the schedule, as Mertz Racing plans to run 10 total events in 2022 and will announce another race date when available.
“I can’t thank Stan enough for believing in me and giving me this opportunity,” Galko said. “He has built a successful race team and established themselves as contenders and I’m excited to be the lucky one holding the wheel. Woody is one of the best drivers around, so I know I will have big shoes to fill, but I’m looking forward to competing for wins and having some fun with the Mertz Racing team. I really can’t thank Stan and all of our marketing partners enough for making the deal possible for 2022.”
Stan Mertz Racing 2022 Racing Schedule:
April 23-24, 2022 – Stafford Motor Speedway – NAPA Spring Sizzler
May 20, 2022 – Stafford Motor Speedway – Call Before You Dig Open Modified 81
May 27, 2022 – Claremont Motorsports Park – $10,000 to win, 100-lap special
June 10, 2022 – Stafford Motor Speedway – Bud Light Open Modified 80
July 1, 2022 – Stafford Motor Speedway – GAF Roofing Open Modified 80
July 23, 2022 – Star Speedway – 11th annual SBM Classic
August 19, 2022 – Stafford Motor Speedway – Lincoln Tech Open Modified 80
September 24, 2022 – Stafford Motor Speedway – Tri Track Modified Classic
October 22, 2022 – Seekonk Speedway Tri Track Haunted Hundred
One race during the season will be announced a later date to make a 10-race schedule