(6/22/2022 – Alex Nieten) Redding, CA… Back in April when the NARC Fujitsu General Sprint Car campaign began, Max Mittry had only one race in a 410ci sprint car, but that hasn’t slowed him down in his first campaign.
The teenager has made an immediate impact competing against the best drivers the West Coast has to offer in 2022. Earlier this year at Silver Dollar Speedway he earned Quick Time honors in just his second ever series appearance. Throughout the season so far he’s tallied four top-10s with a best result of sixth.
For Mittry, the route to racing began before he was even born as his father and now car owner, Demo Mittry, was a heavy fixture on the outlaw kart scene as the now popular sprint car stepping stone was in its earliest stages. Demo both raced and built the small but powerful machines, and shortly after Max was born, he quickly developed a passion for the sport, one that led to the young racer collecting many checkered flags as he laid the foundations of a racing career.
“I just fell in love with it,” Max Mittry said. “He (Demo) built me a kart, and I started racing and had some pretty good success, got a championship and won a lot of races.”
The quick success in the karting ranks opened the door for Mittry to give 360ci sprint cars a shot, and Mittry also wasted no time finding speed, even grabbing a podium against a loaded ASCS field at a race in Arizona at one point.
“After the kart championship, my dad said, ‘hey do you want to try a sprint car?’ And I said sure, why not,” Mittry explained. “Then I moved up to a sprint car and have been having a lot of success, a lot of consistency in them.”
Next up for Mittry came the natural progression to a 410ci sprinter when he was old enough. One of California’s best drivers, Justin Sanders, played an instrumental role in helping Mittry get started in a 410 and still plays a major role to this day.
“I wasn’t old enough the last few years to even try out a 410,” Mittry said. “As soon as I turned 16 that was the first thing that came to mind is when am I going to hope in the 410. Luckily, Justin, who is a part of our team now, he got us the hook up on a motor.”
The connection between the Mittry family and Sanders strengthened last year as they spent more time around each other and also helped each other out at times. Eventually, the Mittry crew rolled out a second car for Sanders late last year, and they remain Mittry Racing teammates today.
“We used to pit next to each other a few times,” Mittry said of how their friendship began. “He actually asked my dad to help him out when we went up to Skagit last year, and my dad ended up helping him out. Then they started talking, started getting close, and then we decided we were going to put Justin in a car at the Copper Classic in Arizona.”
Sanders, who owns 11 career NARC victories, may best be known for his exploits behind the wheel of a sprint car. However, in the pit area, he’s also known as one of the better mechanical minds, capable of making a car go fast via not only the wheel and pedals but also the wrenches. Mittry points to having Sanders’ help in this area as well as his willingness to offer driving tips as a couple key catalysts to his early speed in a 410.
“He (Sanders) knows stuff that I wouldn’t even think about in a sprint car,” Mittry said. “Last year we were pretty good. We were consistently fast but didn’t have much when it came to the main event. He’s just been helping us out, getting us dialed in on both the 360 and 410.
“Also, as a driver coach, he’s running the same tracks I am on the same nights,” Mittry added. “So, he knows what the track and the car is going to do, and he relays info to me to make me better as a driver and make me faster on the track.”
Even with having Sanders’ help and producing some strong results, Mittry’s adjustment to a 410 has been anything but easy. While the power of the two cars may not be visually evident to a fan sitting in the stands, the Redding native notes that it’s easy to feel it in the seat when the accelerator is pressed.
“It’s a completely different ballgame,” Mittry said of switching to the 410. “The 360s, don’t get me wrong, they have a lot of power. They can get around the tracks pretty good, but when you get behind the wheel of a 410 it’s a different beast under the hood of that thing… You just have that main power source that’s about 150 or 200 more horsepower.”
While taming that amount of power can be difficult, Mittry has found that it does offer some benefits when it comes to keeping the car under control.
“I honestly do think it’s a little bit more comfortable to be in a 410 since you have all that power you don’t have to worry about getting balled up,” Mittry noted. “Usually, you can power out of it.”
Moving forward in the short term, Mittry is keeping realistic expectations. Even though he’s ran up front early in his NARC career, the 16-year-old remains aware that he’s competing against the best drivers the West Coast has to offer and wins are extremely hard to come by. Mittry hopes to improve but isn’t expecting to take the world by storm.
“I do want to have a few NARC podiums this year,” Mittry said. “I definitely think I can do it, just got to better myself as a driver and put myself in a better spot.”
Looking even further along, Mittry does hope to elevate his performance after he has more experience under his belt and one day add his name to the historic list of NARC champions along with battling against the country’s best drivers when he can.
“Long term goals include trying to get a championship or two and maybe run with the World of Outlaws here and there, but that’s just stuff down the road. I’ve still got to better myself as a driver before I get to that point.”