The sun beats down and glares against the surface of freshly polished cars as pro surfer Matt Keenan stands in front of his mom’s house in a remote part of New Jersey. He seems unaffected by the heat or mosquitoes. Maybe it’s because he’s too excited about his 2002 BMW 745i that’s fresh out of the shop with a new set of Asanti AF132 22x9.5-inch front and 22x11-inch rear wheels with Pirelli PZero Nero 265/30R22 front and 305/25R22 rear tires.
Matt actually resides in an apartment in Ocean City, New Jersey located right on the beach and about 15 minutes from his childhood home. He shares his homey abode with his friend and business partner, Randy Frank, with whom he co-owns Elation (a clothing boutique). Never being too far from his favorite place (the ocean) for too long has made him a champion surfer with a number of sponsors backing his talent.
“I travel the world for photo [and surfing] contests, so I have the opportunity to get paid to go to the beach,” he said. “I have a good group of friends worldwide that I travel with.” Despite taking a few winter months off to mend an ankle injury, he’s back up on the waves. This summer he’s slated for a domestic tour that includes the U.S. Surfing Open in July. Then it’s off to France, Spain and Portugal.
Matt is visiting his parents for the day. As a born-and-raised East Coast surfer, Matt prefers the intimacy of his hometown when he’s not traveling the world for surfing competitions, teaching surfing to kids or running a surf camp during the summer.
“I love living here. It’s a slow, mellow town on the water,” he said. One of his fondest memories growing up in New Jersey is riding in the back of his dad’s old Pontiac. “The vinyl seats were so hot in the summer time,” he reminisced as he took his shades off to reveal eyes that squinted in the sun, his hands absent-mindedly running through his freshly cut spiky hair. As for jewelry, he wore a simple (silver) ring on his right hand, a Nixon Rotolog watch and nothing else… he’s not that kind of guy.
Naturally, Keenan knows a good ride in the ocean, but he’s also great at riding the pavement. He’s content to move at a steady yet easy pace, soaking up each and every moment in the water. “When it comes to surfing, people tell me I’m really smooth, super-polished and incredibly fast,” he said as he gazed over at his car. “Everyone surfs differently, and driving cars is the same. My best friend drives crazy, which makes me get sweaty palms; he drives the way he surfs.”
Although Matt prefers the smooth and steady route, he’s not passive when talking about his love of cars. “I always thought cars were cool. I was a Matchbox and a G.I. Joe kind of guy,” he said. “The first car my parents gave me was such a beater; they gave me an old Subaru with 150,000 miles on it and, when it rained, the floorboards got wet. It was just a junker.”
His next car was an Acura Integra—the car that sparked his fancy for customization—and immediately decided it needed a set of fresh aftermarket wheels. “After that it was all downhill,” he joked. Soon, his passion for surfing was paying the bills and he bought a Mercedes-Benz C 230 coupe hatchback. “My dad just drove it today,” he said. “I forgot about that thing.” Driving the Mercedes hatchback for about a year, he opted for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and added a flashy Lorinser kit, flip monitors and headrest monitors.