Few individuals in the sport of drag racing today wear as many hats as Matt Plotkin. The 29-year-old is deeply involved in everything from grassroots no-prep racing to NHRA national events. But his immersion in the sport is nothing new – it’s simply part of the family tradition.
[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #185, the 30 Under 30 Issue, in Nov/Dec of 2023.]
“I’ve been involved in drag racing my whole life,” says Plotkin. “I have my dad to thank for that – he’s been drag racing since the ‘70s. I grew up 10 minutes from Englishtown, New Jersey, and we always found ourselves at the track. That’s what really garnered my attention toward NHRA and drag racing as a whole. Then I moved to Texas and got involved in the grudge and no-prep side of the sport.”
In 2015, Plotkin formed Project X Promotions with Jason Flores, and the following year they hosted their very first event. Since then, they have held multiple no-prep events every year, including the highly popular Bounty Hunters and Winter Meltdown races.
“We were one of the pioneers of the no-prep movement almost 10 years ago,” Plotkin says. “We’ve prided ourselves on consistency and giving the customer the best product and experience possible. Though we’ve moved to different tracks, our racers and fans have followed us wherever we’ve gone. It’s about having fun, and I think the no-prep atmosphere that our races provide is more enjoyable than anything else.”
In addition to being a promoter, Plotkin branched out in 2021, working full-time with the NHRA. He now juggles a multitude of roles, including being both the Regional Tech Director and Division Services Coordinator for Division 4, and Chairman of the Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle Committee.
He was also heavily involved in forming the brand-new NHRA Factory X class, an accomplishment he’s especially proud of. Plotkin still recalls sitting with a few others in a Bowling Green, Kentucky, IHOP two years ago, drawing up ideas on a napkin.
“It’s taken a little while, but now we’re in a position to have a really strong category,” says Plotkin. “It takes a lot of those grassroots elements from a no-prep or grudge race, and brings that relatability to the forefront of a professional category. Factory X does a great job of having cars that look like cars, and it’s really going to take off.”
Plotkin takes a lot of pride in being firmly planted on both spectrums of the drag racing world, and believes bridging that gap will benefit everyone in the long run. He emphasizes that both sides can learn a lot from each other.
“I think there’s been somewhat of a divide between your core racers that visit local tracks, and professional teams that almost forget the other stuff exists,” Plotkin says. “And really, it goes both ways. It’s not just showing NHRA that grassroots stuff works too, but taking some of the things that make NHRA work – like safety and event efficiency – to help make other programs better. It all goes hand in hand.”
When he’s not hosting one of his own events or traveling across the country for national and divisional races, Plotkin lives in Denton, Texas, with his wife Mady – the NHRA Division 4 Director and a 2018 Drag Illustrated 30 Under 30 honoree. Plotkin jokes that after five years, it’s nice to finally be on a level playing field with her.
“I can finally go a year that she’s not holding it over my head,” laughs Plotkin. “It was definitely a motivator for me. A lot of people don’t realize that our relationship started when she got her 30 Under 30 award at PRI. We’ve been side by side ever since.”
Where Plotkin goes from here is yet to be determined. But regardless of what role he takes on or which type of drag racing he’s involved with, rest assured he will dive in headfirst.
“The future doesn’t have any names on it,” says Plotkin. “I look forward to growing the sport in whatever capacity I feel is best, and making sure I have a positive role in that growth. No matter what, I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure the sport is strong and healthy.”