The date of July 1, 2016, will become an anniversary date for Quinten Tifft.
In future years, he will remember that day as a life-changing experience, not only for himself, but for his son Matt. It was a day that prayers were answered while marking the start of a return to normal life.
Matt Tifft had to stop doing something he has loved doing since he was a teenager — sitting behind the wheel of a race car. On July 1, 2016, he wasn’t behind the wheel, he was lying in a hospital bed waiting for his turn to be wheeled into surgery.
The procedure he was having wasn’t something simple or normal. Tifft was having a low-grade glioma in the brain removed. In layman’s terms, Tifft had a brain tumor.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver from Hinckley, Ohio, had to hit the brakes on his driving schedule for something that came as a surprise to he and his family.
During his teenage years, Matt Tifft raced dirt late models in Ohio and asphalt late models in Wisconsin and the Midwest. While he raced at the short tracks, eventually moving up to ARCA Racing Series and NASCAR competition, Quinten Tifft was always by his son’s side.
On the day of the surgery, it was no different as Quinten Tifft and his wife, Vicki, patiently waited for their son to undergo a risky procedure. Quinten Tifft was with his son when they received the news that the younger Tifft would need surgery.
“I was pretty shocked because we knew they found something in the beginning, but we thought it was some undeveloped cells and they were pretty sure that is what it was, and it was nothing to worry about,” Quinten Tifft recalled.
“As they looked into it more and more, they took it to a tumor board and it was like 60/40 and it was getting a little scarier and they decided to do a biopsy, which means drilling a hole in your head. It was real scary at first, but then we said we need to attack it for what it is and try to figure it out.”
The surgery was delayed until late in the afternoon. But the family didn’t sit around and wait for Tifft’s turn in the operating room, they had some fun on social media while trying to not think about the risks.
“It was kind of strange because he was doing the social media thing along the way and we were kind of having fun with it,” Quinten Tifft said. “We found this vacuum hose and put it up to the side of the head and said: ‘We can’t wait any longer, we just have to suck it out.’ You just wait and wait because you don’t know. He could be paralyzed on the side of his face, or lose some eyesight, a whole bunch of things. It was a relief that he could just be as normal as he is.”
The next morning, many who follow Matt Tifft on social media woke up wondering how he was doing and were surprised to find a video message from him.
“We talked about it, just for his own healing and relating to fans and people in the same situation that it would be a great outlet for him to just put it out there,” Quinten Tifft said. “You know, maybe it could help someone or give a sense of purpose or release to do that.”
His father was surprised by the response his son received from the video.