Think of Judson Massingill as an OE supplier. While the big-name car manufacturers get all the credit for innovations like electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes, it's actually behind-the-scenes suppliers like Bosch who invent them. Things aren't too different in the world of high-end racing, whether it's NASCAR, IRL, NHRA Top Fuel, or CART. Although the guys back at the engine shop get all the praise for powering their high-profile drivers to victory, it's actually Judson who taught many of them everything they know. In other words, Judson is quite possibly the biggest sleeper in the racing industry today.
Judson, along with his wife, Linda, runs the School of Automotive Machinists (SAM) in Houston, Texas. The school's unique curriculum focuses on one thing only: building engines that compete in the most elite forms of racing. That encompasses teaching students how to machine blocks, port cylinder heads, spec out camshafts, and a whole bunch of stuff in between. Such a program would fail miserably if not for quality instruction, and the success of the school's graduates are a testament to that fact. Judson's disciples work for industry stalwarts such as Roush Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, John Force Racing, Warren Johnson Enterprises, Reher-Morrison, and Penske Racing.
Oblivious to the impact he'd make one day on the industry, Judson started out as a kid who just loved to race. He bought a brand-new '69 Camaro Z/28, which served as his accomplice in hustling quite a few street racers to cough up their lunch money. So successful were his exploits that his wanton earnings were enough to pay for an education at the University of Houston. Hours upon hours of research went into his early engines, and consequently, they mopped up on the street racing scene. Word got around about this kid who built killer motors out of his garage, and soon some serious drag and circle track racers started bringing him work.
Judson's first big break came in 1977, when an oil tycoon named Curtis Payne hired him to build motors for his ARCA and Winston Cup cars. With Curtis' on-track success, Judson quickly established a name for himself. In 1980, Curtis decided to spend more time with his family, and handed over the reigns of his shop to Judson. Now building engines for racers across the country, he ran into a big roadblock. Qualified machinists were hard to come by, and after he spent years training employees, they left to start up their own shops. Judson and Linda decided to make a business out of what they had been doing for free, and the School of Automotive Machinists was born in 1985.
Perhaps the biggest factor contributing to Judson's overwhelming success is the fact that he's a racer to the core. After getting bored with setting national track records with his Z/28, Judson went circle track racing, where he set more records and took home local championships. With prolific accomplishments at the dragstrip and circle track under his belt, it was time to go road racing in SCCA's GT1 class. Again, he set track records all over Houston, and won the Rookie of the Year title. Even today, racing is a significant portion of the curriculum at SAM. Running 9.17 at 154 mph, the school's '99 Camaro SS is one the fastest naturally aspirated LS1-powered vehicles in the country. Likewise, SAM's '95 Mustang (8.80 at 152 mph) is a front-runner in NMRA's Hot Street class.
When he's not in class, Judson enjoys playing golf and spending time with his wife, Linda; son, Brian; daughter, Kim; and his granddaughter. He still has his '69 Z/28 that-with less than 12,000 original miles-is currently being restored. It will most certainly have a wicked engine under the hood, so don't be surprised if it ends up in the pages of PHR.