"Pedal to the metal" is a euphemism embraced by many but truly lived by few. For Matthew Sisson, it's more than a motto to live by. It's an instruction, shouted through an earpiece by a familiar voice, urging him to keep pushing as his speedometer climbs well into the triple digits.

Most parents of children a certain age will hear this phrase at least once, wedged between professed aspirations to be an astronaut or a firefighter. And like most, Matthew Sisson's parents entertained the idea as a fleeting desire that would be replaced shortly by another equally grand career plan. But much to his mother's despair, he meant every
word.

"The moment I first laid eyes on a sports car calendar at the first grade Scholastic Book Fair, I knew I was hooked for life. I was immediately convinced that, despite barely knowing how to ride a bicycle, I would be piloting a Dodge Viper if I just saved my pocket money until I was 16," Sisson says. "But somewhere around the time that I was borrowing my older brother's car to take my driving test, I realized I needed a much more solid path to professional success in order to make that dream a reality."

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"There is an incredible amount of talent rising through the junior ranks of racing in the United States at the moment," Sisson explains, "but these kids typically have a lot of money behind them, providing them the opportunity to prove themselves and climb the ranks. While my family has been incredibly supportive in every aspect of life, the financial realities of racing are staggering, so I knew I had to make it happen on my own."

Now 28, Sisson is well along that path. After attending Oxford University and the University of Colorado, he returned to his mother's home in New York to take an entry-level investment banking position. While admittedly envious of his friends moving into questionable East Village apartments with countless roommates, he remained home and saved every penny he could to chase the dream. A few short years later, he made that dream a reality.

"It's not as straightforward as other disciplines to become a successful racing driver," he reminds me, "it's not like basketball where you can hit the gym every day and practice until you've out-worked the competition. I put in hundreds of hours on a home-built simulator, but every day on track costs thousands of dollars, and a single mistake can cost you more than money."

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The resources required to go racing fueled Sisson to chase professional success, and four years after graduating from college, he spends more time in a suit and tie as VP of Sales for an investment data firm in Manhattan than he does donning fireproof racing gear at the track. Having reached a place where he could budget for one year of racing, he put together the money to rent a race car from Mark Gregory at RosMar Racing, and it was clear he was immediately at home. With encouragement and track-side support from Gregory, he abandoned the thought of a 401k, poured his life savings into a truck, trailer, and race car, and set out to make a name for himself on the amateur racing circuit.

While confident in his ability, Sisson knew he was operating on a shoestring budget compared to the big teams and was well aware that he jumped straight into the deep end and needed to learn how to swim, fast. The first weekend in his new (to him) car, and competing in the North East Divisional Championship with only a novice racing permit, he found himself celebrating a podium finish alongside vastly more experienced drivers. Then he did it again. And again. And again. Podium finishes turned into wins, and when the points were tallied up at the end of his rookie season, the moment he had worked towards for two decades arrived: he was crowned champion.

While he credits this hunger for career progression to his unyielding desire to go racing, he found the two to be more closely aligned than he had anticipated. "The mentality and sacrifices required to be successful in racing mirrors that of any success story. I was sleeping in the back of my truck the entire first season," he says. "The idea that you can plan for every eventuality is the same as well; you plan as best as you can, but have to learn and adapt when you come across the unexpected. Most importantly, you need to surround yourself with an incredible team that is invested in your mutual success, while knowing in the back of your head that your individual effort is what will separate you from the pack at the end of the day."

Stay tuned: Sisson is currently planning to campaign a GT4 car in next years' IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, airing on NBC Sports.

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How Success Happened for Race Car Driver Matthew Sisson

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17.10.2022

"Pedal to the metal" is a euphemism embraced by many but truly lived by few. For Matthew Sisson, it's more than a motto to live by. It's an instruction, shouted through an earpiece by a familiar voice, urging him to keep pushing as his speedometer climbs well into the triple digits.

Most parents of children a certain age will hear this phrase at least once, wedged between professed aspirations to be an astronaut or a firefighter. And like most, Matthew Sisson's parents entertained the idea as a fleeting desire that would be replaced shortly by another equally grand career plan. But much to his mother's despair, he meant every
word.

"The moment I first laid eyes on a sports car calendar at the first grade Scholastic Book Fair, I knew I was hooked for life. I was immediately convinced that, despite barely knowing how to ride a bicycle, I would be piloting a Dodge Viper if I just saved my pocket money until I was 16," Sisson says. "But somewhere around the time that I was borrowing my older brother's car to take my driving test, I realized I needed a much more solid path to professional success in order to make that dream a reality."

Related: Hernan Lopez, Founder of Wondery, on Elevating the........

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