December 15, 2017
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Life in the fast lane: Belfast High graduates find a home in auto racing

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff
Updated:

When Belfast High School graduates Matt Benjamin and Trevor Pollard drove to South Boston, Virginia, to help out on Matt’s cousin Travis Benjamin’s Super Late Model car for a race that weekend, they had no idea what the future held for them.

They were 18 years old at the time. It was 10 years ago. They had wanted to relocate.

“We didn’t have a lot going on around town so we just packed our bags, jumped into our trucks and moved down south,” said Matt Benjamin. “We didn’t have a whole lot of options. We didn’t have any jobs or anything.”

“We didn’t have a pot to piss in,” said Pollard. “We didn’t know anyone.”

They had hoped to land jobs in racing.

“After the race, a buddy of mine, Seth Holbrook, introduced them to Freddy Query. He was a Super Late Model legend,” recalled Travis Benjamin.

Query had stepped out of his race car to form his own Super Late Model team and develop drivers such as Brian Scott, who retired a year ago after a career that included 53 Monster Energy (formerly Sprint Cup) Series, 208 Xfinity Series and 62 Camping World Truck Series races.

Query hired them to be part of his team.

Fast-forward 10 years and Morrill native Matt Benjamin is now a mechanic for Kyle Larson’s Monster Energy Series team that has already picked up a win and earned a berth in the Chase. Searsmont’s Pollard is a truck chief for GMS (Gallagher Motorsports) Racing.

Pollard’s No. 23 truck, driven by Monster Energy Cup driver Chase Elliott, won the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 Camping World Truck series race at Martinsville Speedway last Saturday.

“That was a lot of fun. It was a pretty cool experience,” said Pollard, who oversees the maintenance of the trucks.

“If you had told me 10 years ago this is where I would be right now, I would have told you that you were a little bit on the crazy side,” said Pollard. “We’ve come a long ways to make it where we are. When we first moved down here, my job was to wash the hauler that we took to the racetrack for Fred Query and Brian Scott.

“I had to clean it inside or out,” said Pollard. “That’s what they paid me to do and I had to do it. Nothing has come easy.”

Travis Benjamin said Pollard and Matt Benjamin’s tireless work ethic and willingness to do any job enabled them to climb the ladder quickly.

“They are workers,” stressed Travis Benjamin. “No matter what they’ve been told to do, they’ve done it.”

“It’s a team sport. Everybody has to do their part,” said Pollard.

Larson is leading the Monster Energy Series standings thanks to his victory at Auto Club Speedway of California, which followed three straight second-place finishes.

Elliott is second in points in the Monster Energy Cup Series.

Matt Benjamin has been with Larson since 2013.

And he isn’t the only Maine native on the team. Windham’s Derek Kneeland is Larson’s spotter.

“Things are good right now. But we need to keep the momentum up. We can’t let up at all,” said Matt Benjamin, who handles anything having to do with the suspension and brakes on Larson’s Chevy. He accompanies the team to the races.

“I love it. There is nothing else I want to do. I love everything about it. I grew up racing, following Travis,” said Matt Benjamin, who worked on his cousin’s race cars growing up and has been involved in the Camping World Truck and Xfinity Series along with the Monster Energy Cup Series.

“Travis set the pace for me and Trevor. We grew up going to short tracks. We learned a lot just working out of my family garage,” said Matt Benjamin.

“We’re living the dream,” said Pollard, who has previously worked for the Tommy Baldwin Racing team and for Camping World Truck driver Joey Coulter. “It has been quite the experience. It’s a whole new world.”

Two of the drivers for the Tommy Baldwin Racing team were Dave Blaney and J.J. Yeley.

Best friends Benjamin and Pollard live together in Davidson, North Carolina, but they say Maine will always be home.

And Pollard said they are indebted to Travis Benjamin’s father, Ron, and Matt’s dad, Bruce, for all their support throughout the years.

Their Morrill General Store had been one of Travis Benjamin’s primary sponsors over the years.

 


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