DI 30 UNDER 30 2017: Matt Bynum
In a matter of a month, Matt Bynum experienced enough highs to last a lifetime. With his life seemingly moving at the speed of a Funny Car, Bynum ran a career-best and advanced to the final round of the California Hot Rod Reunion in Nostalgia Funny Car, following that up a week later by getting his NHRA Funny Car license in Las Vegas.
Both might have been the icing on the cake to the job promotion he received just days prior to the Hot Rod Reunion. Working as a crew member on J.R. Todd’s Funny Car in 2017, Bynum received word he would be the car chief for Shawn Langdon’s Funny Car in 2018 just as the former Top Fuel world champ announced the class change.
While still trying to process the unforgettable string of events, Bynum received one last bit of good news – being named to the DRAG ILLUSTRATED 30 Under 30 Class of 2017. The 26-year-old Bynum knows he’s not dreaming, but all of it is certainly surreal.
“It’s been really crazy, and I never would have thought a year ago that this would all happen. It’s been insane,” Bynum says. “It’s been a lot of fun and (the 30 Under 30) is definitely an honor and something cool to be a part of.”
The Southern California native joined Kalitta Motorsports in 2012 after working full-time with Gary Densham’s Funny Car operation and helping on Jason Rupert’s Nostalgia Funny Car. Densham jokingly told Bynum that Kalitta Motorsports was the only place he would let him go, and Bynum has thrived with the close-knit group. He was an important cog to Todd’s successful first-year transition to Funny Car, something Bynum will be part of again next year with the talented Langdon. But being part of a U.S. Nationals win with Todd was just another highlight in what has been a thoroughly enjoyable run with Kalitta Motorsports.
“It’s a big family here,” Bynum explains. “Not that racing is second, but we all have each other’s back and that’s really cool. It’s a great place and a great working environment. It’s a good group of hard-working people.”
Bynum fits that mold, getting the chance to race the Nostalgia Funny Car a couple times this year, and squeezing in getting licensed for Funny Car while driving Del Worsham’s car. The nostalgia season ended well for Bynum, who ran 5.744 at 258.62 mph in a final-round appearance and went as quick as 4.17 at 295 when getting licensed in Worsham’s big-show car.
That’s a thrill he hopes to continue as much as possible in 2018, eager to maintain what will undoubtedly be an extremely busy schedule. Ideally, he would race the Nostalgia Funny Car 3-5 times, perhaps testing Worsham’s car the day after some NHRA national events. Coupled with working full-time with Langdon, and Bynum will have a lot on his plate – just the way he likes it.
“Obviously, I would love to drive the (Funny Car) more, and I’ll try to make as many runs as I can,” Bynum expresses. “It keeps your name out there, and we’ll keep running the nostalgia car. I’m going to just keep working hard. Working with Shawn is going to be great. He’s a great driver, a championship driver and he’ll learn things quickly. I’m really looking forward to it.”
This story originally appeared in DI #127, the 30 Under 30 Issue, in December of 2017.