After graduating college in 2017 with an engineering degree, Matt Guiffre was looking for a class to go auto racing. Rather than make a hasty decision, Guiffre put his analytic brain to the test.

He created a program to compile the number of competitors racing in each class from NASA and other amateur auto racing organizations in the Michigan area. From there, Guiffre researched how much the cars would cost on everything from buying to racing it.

“The whole goal was to define the maximum amount of competition for the minimum amount of budget,” said Guiffre, who races the NASA Great Lakes Region. “Through that analysis, I came up with what I thought was the biggest bang for the buck, and that ended up being 944 Spec.”

Any analysis that includes “affordable” and “Porsche” in the same sentence might raise eyebrows, but Guiffre has experience wrenching and working on his own cars, which weighed into his decision. “The class size was relatively large, but the investment or amount of money to get into it was relatively low,” he said.

Guiffre decided he wanted to race cars after visiting Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. He was at the track with his high school club, which built an electric car for an Electrathon event, but found himself watching the big track.

“I was up against the chain-link fence watching the cars go around. It was real and that’s when I figured I had to do that,” Guiffre said. “But, yeah, parents didn’t necessarily agree.”

Guiffre attended the Rochester Institute of Technology for mechanical engineering with the goal of going into the automotive industry and getting paid to drive a car. He didn’t have the money to race while he was in college, but he bought and sold cars to earn money to race post-graduation.

“My plan was always to get into racing and that was my goal the entire time I went through college,” Guiffre said. “I wasn’t able to afford it, so I was positioning myself to get after it as soon as possible.”

Guiffre believed that racing in 944 Spec would give him a better chance to be a professional driver, and his theory paid dividends, helping him land a job as a senior engineer for Toyota, where he’s on a track pushing a car’s brakes and electronic controls to the limit.

To go into racing, Guiffre bought a crashed 944 with a rebuilt engine for $6,000 from a Porsche Club of America competitor. He repaired the powertrain, did bodywork and upgraded the chassis to run in HPDE events.

By the third or fourth HPDE event, Guiffre was running down the backstraight of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course when the engine blew up. “It hurt,” he said. “I barely had enough money to do this in the first place and my engine just blew.”

Guiffre bought a spare engine from a friend, and ran the junkyard engine for two seasons in the NASA class.

Derrek Morehead, who started in the HPDE program around the same time as Guiffre, remembers Guiffre making the most out of the underpowered Porsche.

“He had to drive it a lot harder and learn how to drive that car to its full potential early on just so he could keep pace,” Morehead said. “He was very fast right out of the gate, especially after he upgraded to a better spec car. Then he’s just meticulously testing something and his progress in the car just kept getting faster and faster.”

With his engineering background, data is a big part of Guiffre’s racing program. Guiffre has a VBOX Video data logger, an integrated data and video system used by many automotive engineers. Guiffre is using data to continually improve, but he admits it’s easy to go into the weeds.

“I am firmly in the data-video camp, probably so much so that it’s almost a detriment,” Guiffre said. “I’ve actually heard of other engineers that race that kind of get this analysis paralysis, it’s called, where you just overanalyze and you get stuck. I think I’ve done a fairly good job of not falling into that trap.”

The results on track speak for themselves. Guiffre won the Great Lakes 944 Spec regional championships in 2021 and 2023. He would go on to win the 2023 NASA National Championships in 944 Spec at Pittsburgh International Race Complex, but Guiffre believes his best driving was at the 2021 Championships at Daytona International Speedway, where he finished third.

Guiffre had unintentional contact with driver Marcelo Vine, who won that year, during a qualifying race, so Guiffre started at the back of the field for the championship race. “The reason that race was so cool to me is that I raced from dead last in a 17-car field to third at the end,” he said.

Guiffre won’t be defending his National Championship this year. He reluctantly sold his 944 Spec because the class has been shrinking in the Great Lakes Region. Many people he started out in the paddock with have moved on to other classes.

“The whole point of this was to compete and improve,” Guiffre said. “How am I going to improve when I’m not being pushed? So that was really the decision to move on.”

Guiffre is shopping for a new class within NASA, and there’s a good chance he could be running a Toyota-backed GR86 in the Super Touring 5 class. For now, he’s still involved with the organization through NASA and Toyota’s GR Experience program. Toyota customers who buy a Supra, Corolla or 86 GR package receive a complimentary NASA membership that includes a free High Performance Driving Event.

Guiffre, 29, believes that racing helps him do a better job testing electronic controls on Toyota vehicles, where he works in the vehicle mobility and engineering division.

“You definitely have to be over the limit of the vehicle because that’s when those electronic controls come in,” he said. “Being able to drive any car and be comfortable driving it at the limit, such that you can evaluate the performance of electronic controls, came from racing.”

He’s also involved with a Toyota North America after-work program that is endurance racing a Toyota Supra. In between, Guiffre is set to get married to his fiancé Keira Higgins in August back in Connecticut, where he grew up riding dirt bikes and ATVs. The wedding location is coincidentally down the street from Lime Rock Park.

“OK, it wasn’t a coincidence at all,” Guiffre said with a laugh.

It’s all part of the plan.

Name: Matt Giuffre
Age: 29
Region: NASA Great Lakes
Hometown: Woodbury, Conn.
Racing Class: 944 Spec
Sponsors: Puröl Lubricants, Hawk Performance
Day Job: Automotive engineer
Favorite Food: Thai curry
Favorite TV show: “Friends”
Favorite Movie: “Ironman”
Favorite Track: Lime Rock Park
Dream Racecar: Corvette C7.R


Images courtesy of Michael Durkan, Brett Becker and MotorImages


  1. You want bang for the buck with the most competition it’s Spec Miata.
    I’ll take a C6R(GT1 class car with 700hp) over a C7R.
    Congratulations on finding a great job for a car enthusiast and the wedding. All the best!!!!

  2. A great article and a great competitor. It was a lot fun racing with you in 944 Spec. Good luck and enjoy your new racing endeavors.
    See you in the iRacing sim world.

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