For Mattila, the fun is ‘Anything that goes fast’

Super Stock race car driver Dean Mattila of Iron is shown with his car and pit crew members Ricky Helms, Paul Nelson and Jimmer Gunderson.

IRON — Besides being a Super Stock race car driver in Hibbing and Grand Rapids, Dean Mattila is known for working on cars and his other motorized vehicles.

Mattila, 48, of Iron also has a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a four-wheeler and a side-by-side.

“I got all them toys,’’ he said Wednesday night at his neighbor’s garage. “Anything that goes fast.’’

Mattila took at break from stock car racing about seven years ago and just got back into it for the 2019 season.

Crew chief “Paul (Nelson) talked me into it,’’ Mattila said of his return. “The car was sitting just rusting away (in those seven years). They (his crew) wanted to put it back together and start racing again so we did.’’

The issue of his desire to be in the sport was never a concern.

“I’ve always loved to do it. He pushed me hard enough to get me to do it again.’’

The Super Stock with a turbine chassis has been driving “fairly well’’ this season after Mattila and the gang recalled how to set it up again. “It’s running pretty good.’’

While the car runs well, Mattila said it lacks some power. With that in mind, Mattila, Paul Nelson (his neighbor) Jimmer Gunderson, Ricky Helms and JoJo Udovich put a bigger motor back in hoping to get some more power somewhere.

As of Wednesday, Mattila said he was in sixth out of 26 cars in the points at the Hibbing Raceway. His best performance that helped lead to that standing was a fifth place finish in one of the features.

“Everything went right that day. It doesn’t always happen that way, though.’’


Mattila has been in the sport for nearly 20 years.

“We got started racing enduros and caught the fever from there,’’ he said. He went on to race a

street stock for someone else before buying his own Super Stock and hitting the track.

His love for the sport, though, was born as a youngster when he went to races with has father.

“My dad used to take me all the time to the Hibbing Raceway.’’

Once Mattila made that initial leap into the cockpit, it felt “pretty natural’’ to be behind the wheel of a race car. “It’s just fun for me.’’

Mattila can be a little aggressive when he needs to be, but also lays back when the car might be a little off. That way he can try some different lines, while also getting seat time.

The crew is now looking forward to the Labor Day Shootout at the Hibbing track. Drivers come from all over the area to compete for the championship, which closes out the Hibbing season.

“They put on a good show,’’ according to Mattila, who plans to stay over in his camper for the two-day event.

The race car driver from Iron will be extending his season a bit after the Shootout. The crew is heading to Ogilvie, Minn., to experience a different track.

“Everybody says it’s nice, so we’re gonna go try it.’’

Once the season concludes, Mattila has his sights set on getting a new, more modern race car.

“If we do it again next year, we’re going to upgrade to a newer car. That one is a 2000. It’s kind of outdated.’’

He added that a new car is needed to be more competitive and get with the times and all of the new technology.

This season has still been a thrill, however.

“It’s still fun. Everybody’s having a blast doing it. That’s what counts. If we weren’t having fun, we wouldn’t be doing it anymore.’’


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