How Matt Campbell is taking on the world of motorsport

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Some families are united by a passion across generations.

For some, it's a love of music or art. For others, it's volunteering in the community or supporting a particular sports team.

For Matt Campbell and his family, it's motor racing.

matt campbell porsche le mans

Motorsport as a family business

Growing up in the country town of Warwick, two hours south-west of Brisbane near the Queensland-NSW border, motorsport was a big part of his life. Thankfully for Campbell, that wasn't a bad thing.

"Fortunately enough, my family had a large involvement with my local racetrack, Morgan Park Raceway. They didn't own it, but it was run by the Warwick District Sporting Car Club, which they were heavily involved in.

"My grandfather was the president for many years, my aunt was the treasurer and my mum and my grandmother were also involved. It was a big family thing, that's for sure. So that's how I got the bug and got into racing."

Even early on it was clear that Campbell was blessed with a healthy dose of passion and skill for racing.

The cost of going racing

But, like cracking the big time in any sport, the journey to becoming a professional driver is not an easy one. Perhaps even more so in motorsport because of the additional hurdle involved: the cost.

This reality wasn't lost on Campbell. In fact, he says it's part of the reason why it took so long for him to come to terms with the idea that he really might be able to forge a career in motorsport.

"When I was younger, I was quite realistic about the time and the financial cost that would be required to make it to the professional level.

"So, I was just doing it because I loved the sport and obviously seeing what I could do and where I could end up.

"It wasn't until about 2016, when I was around 21, that it really become clear I could make something of it."

It can easily take hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to fund the travel, competition, training and other needs required of budding drivers. That's why many Formula 1 drivers, for instance, come from affluent families.

How to fund a career in motorsport

Though they provided an incredible amount of support during the early stages of his career, Campbell's family weren't among the ultra-wealthy. So, he needed to think outside the box when it came to funding his dream.

"Basically, in Australia you've got a couple of different routes to go down, like Super2 or the Carrera Cup, but to do either of those championships the financial costs are quite high.

"So, we had to try and do something a little different to be able to raise the budget, while also thinking about the years ahead. So, essentially, Andy McElrea from McElrea Racing - the team I was with at the time - came up with the idea of an equity program."

That idea became a reality in the form of Matt Campbell Racing - Campbell's own company in which a number of initial supporters purchased a small stake.

As Campbell explains, they were essentially helping to fund his career in exchange for a return on his future earnings.

"The idea was that I would use the money from the units purchased to be able to fund my racing. And then, if and when I was able to make a living through motorsport, my partners would obviously get a return on the investment they had made.

"So, a little bit of a different structure, and something that hadn't been done for a very long time in motorsports."

From Carrera Cup to the World Endurance Championship

For Campbell and his investors, the strategy seems to have paid off.

After tasting success in the Carrera Cup in Australia, Campbell moved to Stuttgart, Germany, in 2017 to become a factory driver for Porsche.

Simply put, that means he's sponsored by Porsche to drive competitively using its cars.

In the years since, he has made a name for himself while moving up the ladder from a junior to a works driver at Porsche, amassing outright victories in numerous races as well as some major class wins in the World Endurance Championship.

So far, though, 2024 is proving to be a special year in Campbell's career. Not that he sells it. For someone who makes a living racing cars that would turn heads anywhere, he's infinitely modest.

matt campbell wins the 2024 bathurst 12 hour
Matt Campbell (centre) and co-drivers Ayhancan Güven and Laurens Vanthoor piloted the #912 Porsche to victory at the 2024 Bathurst 12 Hour in February. Source: Porsche AG.

Special victories - and prizes

"The start of this year has been a big highlight. I really hit the ground running with a win at Daytona in January and then took out the Bathurst 12 Hour back home in February.

"It's also been a strong start in the World Endurance Championship with a couple of pole positions now."

Both wins are a big deal. Putting aside the satisfaction of a home victory at the Bathurst 12 Hour, an overall win at the Daytona 24 Hour is one of the biggest coups in endurance racing. And one that comes with a special memento.

"Something a little bit different compared to a lot of other races is that you actually win a Rolex Daytona for class victories or the overall," says Campbell.

"I've been fortunate enough to win that race twice now - once in class in 2022 and then this year in overall.

"So, I'm pretty lucky to be able to have a couple of Rolex Daytonas hidden away because they're a very special and unique piece in the world of motorsport. It's not often you get something like that."

matt campbell wins the 24 hours of daytona
Josef Newgarden, Dane Cameron, Felipe Nasr and Matt Campbell after victory at Daytona. Source: Porsche AG.

Life on the road

Being a young, successful athlete based in Europe, travelling the world and driving Porsches for a living will sound like a dream job to many. And for Campbell it is.

That doesn't mean it isn't hard work, though. Endurance racing is a gruelling sport, mentally and physically, and requires incredible concentration from drivers over the hours and hours they spend behind the wheel.

Outside of races, there's testing, preparing for races and all the travel involved. It's a life that doesn't leave Campbell with a whole lot of downtime.

"I feel like it's always different. Being in motorsport, no two days are the same," he says.

"We spend a lot of time on the road, though. So, a lot of flights each year, a lot of events, and if you get a couple of days off in between you're quite lucky."

If his busy schedule needed ramming home any further, our interview took place while he was in the back of an Uber in London on the way to the airport for his latest flight - just one of many so far this year.

"Over the past couple of months, I started off in America then followed up in Australia. I was in Belgium last week racing, then a couple of days before that I was in Germany.

"We've had testing in Spain, testing and racing in Italy and also racing in Qatar. So, yeah, it's been a very busy start to the year."

While Campbell's globetrotting could make a travel influencer envious, it's taken years of dedication and hard work to get to the point he's now reached - a journey that has largely meant he's been a long way from home and family.

"I'm obviously used to living in Europe now, but when I left Australia in 2017 I literally had a bag and a boarding pass - that was it."

factory porsche driver matt campbell
Queensland-born Matt Campbell is a factory driver for Porsche. Source: Porsche AG.

Le Mans 24

Even with overall wins in Daytona and Bathurst already under his belt this year, Campbell's clearly not satisfied yet. Not when he's got another big race to prepare for - and not just any race.

Looming large on his schedule when we talked was a trip to north-western France to challenge for what is without a doubt endurance racing's most coveted prize: an overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

"The Le Mans 24 Hour is more or less the Super Bowl of our sport in sports car endurance racing. I think this year's race sold out in about two days, so there'll be a huge amount of people there, which will be really cool.

"I've been lucky enough to be able to be on the podium and win that event before in class, but this year will be something new for me racing overall. So, it's really exciting and it's something very special."

And among the thousands of spectators in the Le Mans crowd this year there will be a few very familiar faces cheering Campbell on.

"I'll have my mum and aunt there as well as my girlfriend, which will be really cool. It's not often that my mum is able to get over to watch me, so obviously having her here this year at Le Mans will be pretty special."

Le Mans - which took place in mid-June after Money went to the printers - may be a world away from Morgan Park Raceway in Warwick, but the presence of his mum and aunt always serves as a reminder to Campbell of how far he's come and, ultimately, just how important his family have been to his career and success.

"I'm very grateful to my family. In the end, they're the reason that I'm in this position. They risked a hell of a lot to give me the opportunity to try and see what I could do in motorsports.

"So, I'm obviously really happy that it's paid off and I'm forever grateful to them. It means a lot to have people like that around you in life."

Editors note: Matt Campbell and his co-drivers finished sixth at the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans. He's back racing with Porsche this weekend at the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium.

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Tom Watson is a senior journalist at Money magazine, and one of the hosts of the Friends With Money podcast. He's previously worked as a journalist covering everything from property and consumer banking to financial technology. Tom has a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) from the University of Technology, Sydney.