RPM Racing’s Justin Matney is currently at home in Virginia, recovering from heart surgery and a nasty case of “Valley Fever.” While the SCORE champion race team plans on returning for the 2021 season, a recent social media blast confirms that the desert trophy truck driver and the rest of the team are indeed down for the count for the remainder of 2020.
This comes as a blow, as Matney is not only the team’s co-owner but the lead driver for RPM Racing, the competitive arm of Tennessee-based aftermarket 4×4 shop, RPM Offroad. RPM Racing has consistently fielded at least five vehicles in every SCORE World Desert Championship since it began racing in 2006, thus making this hiatus the first time that the team has taken a break from the competition.
Clyde Stacy, who co-owns RPM Racing with Matney, has reported that the operation on February 5th at the Cleveland Clinic Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio was successful. SCORE International Off-Road Racing reports that Matney returned home on February 13th, where he has been recovering from surgery ever since.
Matney, 34, was undergoing mitral heart valve surgery when doctors detected a mass in one of his lungs. This lump turned out to be the result of something called “Valley Fever,” an affliction typically caused by prolonged exposure to the dust that gets kicked-up during off-road desert racing. Doctors say that since the mass in Matney’s lung was safely removed and that his heart surgery was a success, a full recovery is expected within the next six months or so.
“We are so relieved and pleased that Justin’s surgery went so well and all of us with SCORE family wish him a complete and quick recovery,” said Jose A. Grijalva, SCORE President, and Race Director. “While RPM has been an amazing and integral part of SCORE racing for over a decade, health and family always come first. Justin and Clyde have also been strong supporters of racers, providing the best equipment and team to support several promising drivers over the years that have been a part of their team at various times. We look forward to the return of RPM Racing when the timing is right.”
Meanwhile, Matney had the following to say about the outpouring of support he has received, as well as the team’s expected return to racing next year.
This isn’t the first time Matney has been benched for health issues. A back injury a few years ago required downtime for surgery, forcing the team to move on without him for the rest of that year. Injuries aside, Matney has won six SCORE class season point championships, with him landing three titles in 2011 alone, where he took home Class 8, Class 11, and Stock Mini trophies, an all-time SCORE record. 2014 was another good year, with Matney earning two race wins prior to securing the unlimited Class 1 season title.
We anticipate a return to a full schedule of SCORE desert racing in 2021, and look forward to racing for championships in several different classes next year. The thoughts and prayers of the desert racing community are greatly appreciated.
These past few seasons have placed Matney behind the wheel of the No. 4 Geiser-built Chevy Silverado, a chassis that competes in the SCORE Trophy Truck division. That said, Matney’s best season to date in SCORE Trophy Truck competition came in 2017, when he finished second in class next to RPM teammate Carlos ‘Apdaly’ Lopez. Once tallied-up, RPM Racing has won nearly 30 SCORE class season point championships since it began competing.
Down, but definitely not out, the RPM Racing team is set to return with gusto after its hiatus from the sport. Matney has even eluded that RPM Racing will be competing in the SCORE World Desert Championship for SCORE Baja 1000 peninsula run later this year, which we look forward to learning more about as the season progresses.