Florida Modified Speedweeks Notebook: Matt Hirschman Seals the Deal At Bronson Speedway

Craig Lutz (46) and Matt Hirschman (60) battle for the lead Saturday at Bronson Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont)

By Denise DuPont 

ARCHER, Fla. – Tour Type Modifieds came to Bronson Speedway to start 2018 race year while taking a winter break. Making the trip to warm and sunny Florida weather, fourteen teams came to be the victor.

The first day of action on the track brought with it a lot of excitement as teams shook cars out. During afternoon practice Ryan Preece of Berlin, CT became the first one out when the #6 TS Haulers modified’s throttle stuck going into turn one. As the videos captured by spectators show, the car launch over the first turn cement barriers jetted in the air and came to rest in the grassy field outside the track. Preece was able to get out of the car unscathed after the “Dukes of Hazards” type ride. The crew worked on the #6 evaluating the damage and after close examination they packed the car in the hauler to head back to New Smyrna area. With a bent frame, the modified needs extensive work if it can be repaired. The team’s primary car stayed at New Smyrna ready for New Smyrna Speedway Speedweek racing.

Eric Goodale of Riverhead, NY through the luck of the draw started the race on the pole. When the green flag flew he found himself out powered as Craig Lutz of Miller Place, NY who rocketed the #46 modified to the lead position. Goodale lost his momentum and was back in fifth by lap 5. Matt Hirschman from Northampton, PA set fast time and after the redraw he found himself in third on race start. Hirschman took advantage of the situation and slid into second.

Lutz led the field for thirty-nine circuits holding off Hirschman’s persistent threats. Then on lap 40, Hirschman got way under Lutz in turn four to pass him for the top position. Once in the lead, there was no stopping Hirschman. “It is a fun track to drive. Last year was the first time that I came here. Last year I came close to a win but I did not close the deal. This year I was in the same kind of position. The laps were winding down so I ran Craig as hard as I could there to see if he would slip up. Then finally I was able to get up underneath him and get by. So it was kind of a little redemption to close the deal here.”

Making the most of his late race crash in 2017, Hirschman took his notes and improved. “I learned a lot last year. We were pretty much where we needed to be today,” confessed Hirschman. “It is great to start the week off with a win. We still have some much work and racing ahead of us. But we will enjoy the win here a little bit and then get back to work. Hopefully there are more wins that come this week”

Hirschman is known as “Big Money Matt” when it comes to short track racing and once again he showed us why. “It is good to get a win at a new track, it is definitely my bread and butter.” Stated Hirschman living up to his nick name. “It is just great to be down here and the weather is excellent. Bronson is a fun track to race on. Short tracks are my strength and when the tires go away and get slick on a short track that it is my real strength.”

“On this track it is all about the car and driver and their ability to hook things up.” Hirschman explained. “For his first time here, Craig did real well. If he comes back here next year he will become more of a threat then he was tonight.”

Twenty-three year old Lutz beat out Goodale for the lead on the race start. He defended his territory until slick Hirschman made a very strong move under him with ten to go. It was Lutz’s first time racing at Bronson Speedway and he ran it like a pro. “First time here it was an awesome night for us,” exclaimed Lutz. “I missed it a little on the time trials but got lucky with the redraw to start on the outside of the front row. I had good restarts all day to try to get out there with quick pace but they call him ”Big Money Matt” for a reason. All in all it was an awesome day for our team. Hopefully we can carry the momentum in to New Smyrna.”

Hirschman had tried his move under Lutz in turn four several times before he finally got the car to stick. Lutz’s held his own and made Hirschman work for the position. Lutz described the race action: “Matt and I bumped a little bit which was just good hard racing. I was trying to keep my line and he was trying to get by me. Matt is a good clean driver so you do not have to worry getting wrecked by him.” Lutz had a solid second in the end.

Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, NY went from third in time trials to sixth to start the race. On a fast slick track that was not where he wanted to be.  “The race was not too bad. I just did not have the race position from beginning. We started sixth the starts just did not really help us.” acknowledged Emerling. “All in all it was a decent race but I just did not have the track position that I wanted. I just ran my own line for a while but we could have used a caution that would have really helped us out. We ran on the bottom for two or three laps and caught up to second. But who knows if we would have had anything for the #60. Matt had a pretty good run. For the first night and finishing up in the top three is good. It is our first time here and we tried new stuff was positive for us. We will take our stuff and go to New Smyrna.”

Ronnie Williams finished fourth, and Eric Goodale fifth. Ken Barry, Chuck Hossfeld, Jeff Gallup, Chris Young and Kyle Trayner round off the top ten finishers.

Drivers will now make the ride southeast to New Smyrna Speedway for five nights of modified racing. Join us back for live updates all week as we take you through the action both on and off the track.

Jim DuPont Photo Gallery From Brunson Speedway action 

Notes from Bronson Speedway

Bronson is an Abrasive Track that is rough on tire wear. Your thoughts:

Matt Hirschman in victory lane Saturday at Bronson Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont)

Matt Hirschman
“That is normal for tires and tracks like this. Many of the tracks up north have not been paved recently so they are comparable. Bronson is not extreme. It is not at all like Myrtle Beach which is very abrasive. This track is not abrasive like that.”

“To be honest the weather almost feels like I am in New Hampshire in July. That is the kind of track it is. Race tracks that we go to for the Tri-Track series like Monadnock and Star Speedway that is what the track reminds me of. Very comparable.”

Craig Lutz (Photo: Jim DuPont)

Craig Lutz
Running nose to nose and then side by side the track’s abrasive surface played a factor in Lutz’s finish.

“Abrasive was the issue, It was real hard on our right rear, We were driving upfront most of the time. I just tried to conserve as much as I could and keep ahead enough as he tried to run me down but I just came out one spot short.”

Patrick Emerling (Photo: Jim DuPont)

Patrick Emerling
“The track was rough on tires but it was not the worst track. It is one of those tracks that you are going to be hanging on no matter what car kind of car you have. And even if you have a good setup under you. I believe I had a top two car out here and I was hanging on and you had to be careful. It was a really fun track and it is pretty racy and tight.”

Check Out Our RaceDayCT Live Updates Replay From Saturday At Bronson Speedway


  1. Glad Ryan is all right after the wild ride. Tigor switches should be mandated in all Modified divisions.
    Matt on a short track is tough to beat whether it’s the Pee Dee entry or his own 60. Best tire guy in Mod racing I think.

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