Matt Furtek, 18, of South Holland, Illinois has signed a contract with Team Hammer, Inc. to ride a Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki GSX-R750 in the 2003 AMA Superstock Series. The contract includes multi-year options beyond 2003.
Furtek attracted the team’s attention in WERA National Challenge Series, WERA Sportsman and AMA Supersport races, winning and running well at a variety of racetracks during the 2002 season while traveling on his own.
In a sort of working interview, Furtek rode Valvoline EMGO Suzuki racebikes at three events late in the 2002 season, including a CMRA/CCS race at Texas World, the CCS Race of Champions at Daytona, and the WERA Grand National Finals/Suzuki Cup Finals. He was forced to withdraw from the Suzuki Cup Finals after a surgical screw backed out of his wrist during practice, but had impressed the team with his riding ability, his desire and willingness to learn, and the ease with which he fit in and worked with crew members.
The team was also impressed with the non-intrusive support Matt Furtek and his racing activities received from his father and mother, Mike and Debbie Furtek.
Furtek underwent wrist surgery in November and was recently released by his surgeon to resume riding. He is making his 2003 debut with the team during tests at California Speedway Wednesday and Thursday, February 5-6.
Valvoline EMGO Suzuki Team Manager and Crew Chief Keith Perry said, “We wanted to work with Matt based on what we saw in our outings with him last year. He was progressing every single time he was on the bike, he’s steady, and he ran very competitive times with the guys at the Cup Finals. We regret that he was unable to compete in the Suzuki Cup Finals and we’re sure he would have been somewhat of a surprise there, and we’re looking forward to his development. This year, ’03, will be a learning year for Matt with the tracks and with our procedures, getting up to speed, but we look forward to doing some serious business with him in the future.”
Furtek will be teamed with veteran mechanic Michael Tjon during the 2003 season.
The team’s 2002-season experience with Furtek contributed to the creation of the Team Hammer Talent Search Presented By Alpinestars.