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Hirschman Pockets $15,000 Payout In Racers Honoring Racers 100

With nothing on the line but pride and purse money, “Big Money Matt” swept both in one of the richest nights in Claremont Motorsports Park’s history.

Matt Hirschman spent most of Friday's Racers Honoring Racers 100 in second place, but he was waiting for the opportunity to go, making the pass for the lead with nine laps left. (STS/Jeff Brown)

For ninety-one circuits around Claremont Motorsports Park, there seemed to be a slim possibility that Matt Hirschman might fall short of a $15,000 payday.

But possibility is tempered with inevitability. And in Modified racing, inevitability wears red and a white #60.

“Big Money Matt” surged past Sammy Rameau to win Friday night’s Racers Honoring Racers 100 at the historic western New Hampshire short track, keeping true to his moniker and taking home yet another colossal check.

Ron Silk kept within a few car-lengths of Hirschman all night, en route to a runner-up finish. (STS/Jeff Brown)

“I’m real appreciative of a night like this,” Hirschman said in victory lane. “This goes a long way for a team.”

A collaborative effort between Claremont promoter Mike Parks and promotional team The Racing Guys, the high-stakes open-competition show was originally planned for Memorial Day weekend. After rain squelched back-to-back race dates, the event was rebooked in conjunction with Claremont’s planned Granite State Pro Stock Series appearance, putting two big-dollar races on the same racing card.

Since the original race date, Hirschman had picked up a Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series win at Seekonk Speedway, a SMART Modified Tour win at the legendary North Wilkesboro Speedway, made his Superstar Racing Experience debut at Stafford Motor Speedway, and earned the three-race Whelen Granite State Short Track Cup in a three-race miniseries of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour dates.

Buoyed by back-to-back top tens in Tri-Track competition, Zachem led all the way through the lap-79 caution. (STS/Jeff Brown)

The Granite State Short Track Cup concluded at Claremont, giving Hirschman 150 recent laps on the unique third-mile.

But for the first 79 laps Friday night, the Northampton, Penn. racer was content to ride in second. Outside polesitter Max Zachem, buoyed by a podium finish at Star Speedway in Tri-Track competition, took the point and took command, with Hirschman at a safe distance. Ron Silk settled into third.

Hirschman’s patience was unsurprising, but as the race neared the finish line, and with the margin for the lead unchanging, the crowd had to wonder when Hirschman was going to press “go.”

At last, a spin by veteran Dwight Jarvis collected Les Hinckley III in turn four and brought out the yellow flag. Most of the field peeled off for the pit area for adjustments and a tire change, with only Rameau, Joey Jarvis and Kirk Alexander remaining on the track.

After pitting with the field on lap 79 and rejoining the race in sixth, Zachem could only get back to third. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Silk exited the pits first, lining up fourth with Hirschman and the dominant Zachem on his tail. On the restart, Silk and Hirschman cleared Jarvis in a hurry. But Alexander, the multi-time Modified Racing Series and Monadnock Speedway champion, proved harder to crack. Silk looked high and low, but Alexander was able to keep the former NASCAR Tour titlist at bay on old rubber.

Silk finally got the high line to stick, slipping past Alexander with Hirschman in tow. The two quickly closed the gap on Rameau, but Rameau had the inside line covered.

Kirk Alexander (#76) stayed on track and dug in deep to remain on the podium, but faded to fifth at the finish. (STS/Jeff Brown)

With ten laps to go, Hirschman made his move on Silk, darting inside to take second. Rameau faded high exiting turn four, and Hirschman shot to the inside, easily taking the lead.

Silk worked over Rameau to take second, but by then, Hirschman was in control.

With clear track ahead, Hirschman easily cruised to victory, picking up the biggest winner’s purse in track history.

Silk, who finished second in July’s NASCAR Tour event at Claremont, held on for another runner-up finish. Zachem got around Rameau as well in the closing laps, but after dominating the race, he had to settle for third.

Rameau and Alexander rounded out the top five, with fellow late-race gambler Joey Jarvis finishing sixth. Todd Patnode was seventh in the final rundown, followed by Woody Pitkat and recent Tour Modified winner Jake Johnson. Andy Jankowiak drove from the rear of the field to finish tenth.

Friday’s race was contested in honor of retiring promoter Dick Williams, who co-founded the Tri-Track Open Modified Series with Modified superfan Jim Schaefer in 2014. Williams and Schaefer, the “Long Island Mod Maniac,” are no longer involved with the series but continue to support Modified racing throughout New England.

Hirschman celebrates his latest high-stakes Modified win. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Also honored in name was Bob Summers, founder of tire supplier Hoosier Tire East, who passed away in 2020. Pacing the field before the green flag were two vintage Modifieds, one paying tribute to local hero Howard “Punky” Caron, a nine-time Claremont track champion.

Hirschman’s car is hardly vintage, but his performance certainly was.

The victor of Claremont’s $10,000-to-win Maurice Enterprises 100 open in 2020, Hirschman has wins this season with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series, and the SMART Modified Tour, as well as in New Smyrna Speedway’s World Series in February. Hirschman won the 50th running of Stafford’s Spring Sizzler, punching his ticket to SRX.

But the ever-analytical Hirschman sees the business side of his success as well.

“Two years ago, when it was basically the pandemic-shortened season, they had a $10,000-to-win event here that we won,” Hirschman recalled. “And that sure helped a lot, because that year there weren’t as many big races out there. Now, you know $10,000 and $15,000 races are becoming a little bit more of the norm, and that’s really a positive thing for Modified racing.”

Racing may be Hirschman’s business, but winning is at the center of his enterprise.

And this season, business has been booming.

Unofficial Results, Racers Honoring Racers 100 Modified Open at Claremont Motorsports Park:
1. (60) Matt Hirschman
2. (16) Ron Silk
3. (20) Max Zachem
4. (06) Sam Rameau
5. (76) Kirk Alexander
6. (04) Joey Jarvis
7. (24NH) Todd Patnode
8. (6) Woody Pitkat
9. (3) Jake Johnson
10. (76J) Andy Jankowiak
11. (50) Dylan Izzo
12. (25NH) Brian Robie
13. (50) Carl Medeiros, Jr.
14. (50NH) Matthew Kimball
15. (17) Donnie Lashua
16. (55) Ryan Doucette
17. (12) Cory Plummer
18. (28) Dwight Jarvis
19. (0) Les Hinckley III
20. (47) Jacob Perry
21. (58) Kurt Vigeant
22. (3) Jeff Murray

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Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. A native of New Hampshire and a long-time fan of New England racing, Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional Late Model touring series.

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