Matt Sheppard: His Crew Chief, Randy Kisacky

Matt Sheppard: His Crew Chief, Randy Kisacky

After winning this past weekend’s Short Track Super Series feature at Port Royal Speedway, Matt Sheppard fist-pumped his crew chief Randy Kisacky. Ever since connecting in 2014, the two have collected five $50,000 paychecks and won an incredible 45% of the races they have entered.

“Randy is the kind of person you need in your corner,” Sheppard, of Savannah, New York, said. “He knows our cars inside out.”

This isn’t the first instance of Kisacky’s success. He was inducted into the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame in 2003. Kisacky drove dirt late models in the 1970s and owned cars up to 1997. Then, he began working on other people’s equipment. Kisacky won Super DIRTcar Series championships with Alan Johnson in 2002 and 2003, and then with Gary Tomkins in 2004. To put things in perspective, Sheppard won the series’ rookie of the year award in 2003.

“Randy is definitely a big deal in the Northeast,” said Sheppard. “Not only is he our crew chief, but he helps a lot of other racers with shocks, questions on a car’s performance, or racing questions in general.”

Kisacky started working with Sheppard when he raced with Heinke-Baldwin Racing in 2014. When Sheppard left the team to start his own in 2016, Kisacky came with him.

Kisacky had worked as an engineer for IBM for 40 years. Sheppard’s also a degreed engineer.

“We are both of the same mindset — we are both engineers,” Kisacky said. “We can bounce a lot of ideas off of each other. Many times, our thoughts are completely different.”

Despite differences of opinion, the two have obviously worked well together.

“We have our debates, and we both realize there is not necessarily a right or a wrong,” said Kisacky. “I feel Matt always has the right to make the final decision on an idea — he has to drive the car.”

While both clearly have a track record of success, Kisacky recognizes one factor that they both cannot control — luck.

“Stuff still has to go your way on the track,” Kisacky said. “You can’t control what the other drivers in the feature are doing. Matt and I realize there are ups and downs. Luckily, we had more ups than downs over the past 10 years.”

Likewise, when they’re on a winning streak, both Sheppard and Kisacky don’t get comfortable.

“Both of us are never satisfied — even when we win,” said Kisacky. “We always go back over what we did to see what can be done better. You can win tonight and next week this track will be completely different. The cars are very quirky, too. A winning setup this week can produce horrible results next week. The key to success is to build a big notebook.”

Matt Sheppard recently eclipsed the 500-win milestone, putting him in a category with some of the greats in all of short-track racing.

“Everyone wants to know if we can keep up this rate of success,” Kisacky said. “It’s possible. We are off to a good start. You don’t win $50,000 every day.”