Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – NEW SMYRNA, FL – Matt Hirschman’s victory Wednesday night came under foggy conditions and for Hirschman, a heavy heart.
With his crew member sidelined at Halifax Hospital after sustaining a broken leg earlier in the week and several losses in the Northeast Modified family, Hirschman put it all on the table in the first long distance race for the Mod Squad of the week.
“One of my guys broke his leg earlier this week.” Hirschman said during his victory lane interview. “He’s watching from Halifax Hospital. Hopefully he’s out tomorrow and he can be here for the end Friday night.”
Boasting the largest field of Modifieds in World Series of Asphalt competition at New Smyrna Speedway since 1993, the competition was stout with drivers like Ryan Preece, Timothy Solomito and Ron Silk standing between himself and victory lane. Methodically making his way through the strong field of competitors, Hirschman settled into his 7th starting spot for the early portion of the event.
Almost like clockwork Hirschman patiently picked off one car after another as the long 76 lap distance shrank down. Keeping the car straight and the tires underneath him, Hirschman moved his way into second place with less than 20 laps remaining.
A late race restart gave him the shot he needed as he made his way past the ever-strong Modified competitor Ryan Preece and easily drove on to his first victory in the John Blewett III Memorial 76.
“I’ve never won this race. Always wanted to win one.” Hirschman said. “Sometimes you don’t realize how young John was when he died and what he would have accomplished still in his career as good as he was. I was just getting to the point where we were probably going to battle for a lot of wins.”
Blewett wasn’t the only loss on Hirschman’s mind as his good friend Ed McGuire passed away, along with Cliff Krause from Wall Stadium and Bob Webber from Star Speedway all within one week during the off season.
“I know there’s a lot of people from the Northeast watching tonight and those guys were very close to some of those people so tonight is for all of those guys and nothing else matters more than that.”
The World Series of Asphalt from New Smyrna Speedway continues on. With two more races scheduled for the Tour Type Modified competitors, the week will culminate in the running of the Richie Evans Memorial 100 on Friday, February 16th.