The Chrome Horn News



      If things go well in New Hampshire this weekend, Matt Hirschman could get something his father, a five-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, never got: a break.
   The 25-year-old Hirschman, son of Tony Hirschman, doesn't want to spend the rest of his racing career stuck in modified cars with no sign of hope for the big leagues as his father did.
   His father is a celebrated modified racer, but Hirschman's dreams are to become a notable NASCAR driver.
   Hirschman's break could come this weekend as the Northampton, Pa., native will make his full-body stock-car debut in the No. 9 Gillette-Evernham Motorsports Dodge Friday night in the Heluva Good! Fall 125.
   It's an opportunity that was presented to the driver in August when GEM officials asked Hirschman to test one of the team's Camping World Series cars as part of a development program searching for young talent. The test proved successful as Hirschman posted competitive speeds after turning a couple dozen laps around New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
   "A few weeks later they asked me to run [Camping World Series East] races in New Hampshire and likely Dover," said Hirschman, who is pulling his own version of double duty this weekend by running in NASCAR's Whelen Modified Tour Saturday following his Camping World debut Friday. "My job is to race the best race I can and hope everything goes well. I'm very optimistic we'll do well and accomplish what the team is looking for."
   Hirschman, who sits third in the Whelen Modified standings with six top-10s and two wins so far this season, said sharing the stage with Sprint Cup stars in New Hampshire and Dover could give him added exposure and the break his father never had.
   "Those are two big events and big places to get an opportunity to run," he said. "Dover will be a new experience for me, and the New Hampshire race is the largest crowd we race in front of all year. A lot of people are paying attention to what is going on."
   Making his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut in 2005, Hirschman's aspirations to reach NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series got a late start.
   Hirschman has spent most of his teens and early 20s helping his father, Tony, win multiple championships in modified cars. When time allowed, Hirschman raced random modified events on the local level at 17 but not much beyond that.
   "I always went to races with my father," said Hirschman, who in 2004 and 2004 was his father's crew chief for back-to-back Whelen Modified Tour championships. "I never had the time or found anyone to spend the time racing me in quarter midgets like most young teenagers do. And once I got started racing modifieds on the local level, I still was working with my dad."
   When he was too young to enter the NASCAR pits, Hirschman spotted for his father until he was old enough to work on the crew.
   In 2006, Hirschman was asked to run full time for Ed Bennett and Wayne Darling, forcing him to walk away from his father's team. Eventually, Tony retired and now goes to most of his son's races.
   The roles have reversed, and Hirschman is happy to have his father in his corner.
   "I think he enjoys coming to my races as much as he enjoyed racing himself, especially when I do well," the younger Hirschman said. "Growing up we always had a close relationship. We were always at the track together."
   Today, the father-and-son team also manages the family business, Hirschman's Speed, which sells racecars and parts specialized for modified cars.
   Modified racing is where it all started for both men, and it's something Hirschman truly enjoys and might even be happy to settle into permanently.
   But until then, he is trying to make the most of a potential big break.


Source:  Raygan Swan /
Posted:  September 10, 2008

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