Double Up: Matt Hirschman Gets Richie Evans Memorial Win, Tour Type Mod World Series Title

Matt Hirschman celebrates victory in the Tour Type Modified division Richie Evans Memorial 100 Friday at New Smyrna Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

It’s been a week of dramatic show after dramatic shows in Tour Type Modified action at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway. 

Friday night in the closing event of the World Series it was Matt Hirschman putting a sleeper hold on all the drama. 

Hirschman, of Northampton, Pa., chased a win all week and finally got it in the Richie Evans Memorial 100 Friday at New Smyrna Speedway. 

The dominating victory for the Northampton, Pa. driver clinched the 2020 Tour Type Modified division World Series championship. It was the second consecutive year that Hirschman has won the Richie Evans Memorial 100. 

“I wish they called them all Richie Evans races because I think it brings out the best in me,” Hirschman said. “… Winning any race in honor of Richie Evans is extra special. I want to make sure I’m here tonight for this. This is the one you want to win. … You come down here, I would have liked to have gotten a few more, or one more, but getting this one is the one. And the cherry on top is the championship.” 

Tyler Rypkema of Owego, N.Y. was second and Craig Lutz of Miller Place, N.Y. third. 

Hirschman had three consecutive second place finishes to start the week and then finished third in Thursday’s 35-lap event. 

On Monday Anthony Nocella held off Hirschman in a side-by-side battle to the checkered flag to get his first career New Smyrna victory in the 50-lap opener for the division. On Tuesday it was Craig Lutz scoring his first World Series win in a 35-lapper. Wednesday saw the drama of Monday’s finish ramped up with Nocella and Hirschman finishing in a virtual dead heat at the checkered. Track officials deemed Nocella the victory of the John Blewett III Memorial 76. Patrick Emerling scored the victory in Thursday’s 35-lap feature. 

Hirschman came into Friday’s finale with six-point lead over Nocella in the standings. Nocella had mechanical issues in Friday’s feature and ended up retiring from the event with about 10 laps remaining. Nocella ended up scored 16th in the 20-car field Friday. 

“A little mini-series championship up North it would be like good, but it’s just a little series,” Hirschman said. “But when you come down here and come to this race track six days in a row and five straight nights with this group of guys here and all your hard work and sweat and sometimes lack of sleep. But I kept it clean for them this year so we were able to come in every day positive and just drive for a win that night. We had all good finishes.”

Hirschman started on the pole Friday and led until the bulk of the field pitted under caution on lap 54. Jimmy Blewett stayed out and inherited the lead, but it took Hirschman only until lap 61 to regain the lead. From there Hirschman went unchallenged the rest of the way. 

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  1. Might be time to add another night of mods next year. Curious what next Feb will look like. The Daytona 500 is moving up another week to Feb 14th, a week after the Super Bowl. Word is Nascar may ditch “speed weeks”for a one weekend event. I can’t see New Smyrna racing on Super Bowl Sunday. Lots of unanswered questions regarding 2021 already.

  2. To Shawn and the Duponts; THANK-YOU!! Thanks for the great coverage of the events down south!

  3. Hey racedayct, thanks for the great coverage. I never found myself thinking I wish they did anything differently. It was all right there.

    Thanks!!!!! 🙏 😊

  4. I too would like to thank Shawn, Denise and everyone at RacedayCT for the great coverage of this past week. It takes allot of time and effort to do, so; THANKS. I’m not in a position to be able to subscribe to the NBC app and the great play by play you guys provided was much appreciated. And although I’m a bit jealous that you guys and gals are in sunny Florida as the temperature here approaches zero, all is forgiven due to the great job done. Have fun and stay cool.

  5. Just a terrific start to the 2020 modified facing season.
    Hirschman was at his best the last night on the track but at his best in victory lane saying all the right things that reflected well on the series seen nationwide after both of the big races.. Nocella did have a banner week with a unicorn chassis and emerged as Hirschman eluded to as someone to watch in 2020. We Preece fans got to see our hero do well if not spectacularly. Four winners in 5 nights is good I haven’t seen one complaint about having to pay for the streaming service as opposed to last year and what is there to complain about. The camera work and announcing were first rate. Combined with live updates and live timing there have never been more tools to enjoy racing action. Good crowds most nights, good social media reactions. And THE race. One of the most dramatic modified races ever and textbook lesson in clean competitive racing……..just a wonderful week.And just the start.

  6. WELL I think A HUGE PLUS to Modified racing, 5 great nights, a finish people will talk about for many years, great side by side racing, No meltdowns, allll very classy Interviews after the races each night, CONGRATS to the 60 team and MATT HIRSCHMAN, he deserved the Championship, seemed good crowds each night, LETS hope for great 2020 in all series and tracks in Modifieds!!!!!

  7. there used to be more events at the big track during the week like the Daytona Dash 4 cyl cars, IROC race, etc then there is now. Hard to imagine them cutting back so much though. Impact would be questionable for New Smyrna in that less people in general would be in the area to attend their track at night. I’d have to guess the overall impact would be negative to NSS if speedweeks got reduced in scale.
    In other news, Matt Hirshman raced all week exactly how I see him, very smart, hard racer that takes what he can when he needs to. Very cerebral and calculating ends up winning the biggest race and prize in the championship. Great week overall for the modifieds in general with what sounds like the best racing of the week at NSS. Only one disappointed maybe is Ryan Preece with underwhelming results overall. Wishing him luck in the 500 again this year!

  8. Doug,
    Please explain to me how Nocella is running a unicorn chassis.

  9. It was merely indicating an appreciation for using a chassis by an old and respected chassis builder that is not considered main stream in tour type modifieds. Not insulting in any way but a wonderful thing to see. And how about the story line of Nocella’s Raceworks based car vs what I believe is Hirschmans Troyer that at this stage is pretty much a special breed of it’s own. Beating the latest and greatest from the chassis du jour big boys it would appear. Am I wrong on that?

  10. Matt Hirschman realizes he is racing against tires. It’s all about managing the tires. Gone are the days of all the tires you can eat. With the cost controls in place to reduce tire consumption and the related costs, the driver must now save and ration out when to use the tire, and get the car in position for go-time. He’s a master at saving his tires and has the most tire left at go-time. He would have had more wins this week if he started his go-time a couple laps earlier.

    If you want to have a real old school open event, do a long distance race with no tire limits.

    RaceDayCT ROCKS!!!!!

  11. Doug can respond, but think he’s referring to a Raceworks, of which there are not many, especially front running.

  12. Thanks to all the staff at racedayct.
    I do not have the nbc trackpads either, and i am grateful to be able to follow the action on this site. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  13. Is the RE 100 race too long? Seems like it is always uncompetitive at the end. Yes, I said it. How about 50 laps? 61 laps?

  14. JD, it is a trade or compromise with the tire rationing. The shorter races had the cars pretty close together, they didn’t have to worry about tires as much or at all. The longer races, with the long runs, lets the cars spread out. And they spread out per who did a better job saving tires. It’s not that the race was too long, it was that they didn’t have the tires to race with no concern for tires at go time.

    And then figuring out when to take on the fresh tires. Some take them early, some wait as long as possible and get burned when a yellow does not happen and they are stuck on tires with lots of laps and no grip.

    I’ve often posted that there should be a couple races where they are allowed all the tires they can eat. It’s one thing to be fast with no regard for tires, another to be as fast as one dare while saving tires for 20 to 30+ laps ahead.

    I was thinking 61 laps with tires.

  15. Ed J, great question. Raceworks has been around for close to 30 years, maybe more under Ed Flemke Jr. Matter of fact I believe Reggie was involved for a while as well.

  16. Wow, once again on the rare occasion I find myself agreeing with Dareal. Once or twice a season there should be a long distance event with unlimited tires, so the drivers can let it all hang out. I understand the reasoning for restrictions on the number of tires used, and believe being a good driver should include the ability to manage your tires, that’s all good. But once or twice a year it would be nice to see the guys run knowing they don’t have to worry about tires. Just my opinion.

  17. Dareal, I have always wondered why the JBJ race is 76 laps (for obvious reasons) and the RE race was 100 when Richies number was 61. Does not make any sense but I agree, 61 laps, no tire limit and turn them loose since it is the final night.

    Another scary thought, if there were to be races in remembrance of TC or MS how many laps would they be given the car number they made their claim to fame in? Both could be very short affairs.

  18. I vote for a 200 lap champions memorial race. Big money, open format, winner takes all. Track rotates year to year. Maybe make it an invitational race with a last chance qualifying race. Get the best of the best from all the different geographic areas, and series. Would have to pay big big money to win, and be an annual event. Just imagine, the best teams all in one place at the same time, it would be great. Just my opinion.

  19. Earl, more like 40 years, it’s always been Eddies shop and yes Reg was involved for many years. While the RW car count out there are dwarfed by the competition, I’m thrilled to see them nailing the set up and running up front and winning. While I’m a RW supporter, I’d feel the same way for Spafco cars or the BRE car.

  20. Rob p., there’s hope for you yet. If you are lucky, you will be agreeing with me more and more. 😉

    I like the idea of a champions memorial race. One BIG race. Perhaps make that the last race of the season at Thompson. Make it a race that celebrates all of the great drivers and owners that made Modified racing. Let them have all the tires they want. Let’s be real, only the cream of the crop will be in play, they can afford all the tires they want. The rest of the field will complain that they can’t compete without tires, but then, even if they were given the best equipment, they still can’t compete with the TALENT of the handful of top competitive teams.

    Bring back the Thompson 300!!!!

  21. Earl and Goldy, thanks for understanding my point. Goldy, I know you have been around for a while and are a Raceworks supporter like myself. Goldy is correct about the longevity of RW. In my opinion, RW actually started in 1977 with the “prototype” Manchester Sand car that Ed Sr. won the Thompson 300 and Stafford 200 with. After MSG got out of racing the Flemke’s were on their own and then started building care under the Raceworks name. Those cars were based on that 1977 car. That would be 43 years. Not a bad run for a “unicorn” is it Doug? Mazda J, I agree there are not many RW cars out there. You have to realize RW is a small shop, I don’t know how many people are currently there. Eddie may be working by himself. If you would like a list of a few of the front running RW cars over the years I would be glad to post some. Doug, if you would like a list of the “unicorn” drivers that have been behind the wheel of a RW car, I would be glad to give that to you. Mazda J, you missed my point, but Doug didn’t. I felt Doug was disrespecting RW by calling it a “unicorn” chassis. He knew right away because in his next post he said he wasn’ trying to be insulting. Doug thinks he is “folksy” or “funny” or something using his cute expressions. I think he is just being “Dougie”.

  22. DaReal, I would be good with a 61 lap RE event with between 1-3 tire maximum change. Tire change not mandatory though. If the caution comes out with twenty left and your tenth maybe you put on three and make a show out of it. I think a few race tweaks here and there could make this a fun race.

    It was only a few short years ago where I thought the mods might be done in NSS. Kudos to the track and drivers for the huge resurgence these last couple of seasons.

  23. Yup Dareal, we can co-excist. I love the idea of bringing the 300 back,maybe breathe new life into Thompson. What I envision is a true open comp race. If someone wants to run a carb with bores the size of beer cans, so be it. The distance if the race will equal everything out. Of course unlimited tires are a must. The biggest thing though is the money. I’m talking obsene, like 20 grand to win, at least 1500 to start kind of money with a 28 car field. An invitational race, where the best of the best are invited to race, the rest would have to win 1 of 2 last chance races. The race would also rotate between tracks of all sizes year to year. Maybe throw some qualifying races throughout the year, where the winner earns an invite. The hardest part is the money, but dirt guys have high dollar races all the time so it can be done. Modified racing needs a race like this to complete the picture, and tie everyone together just my opinion.

  24. Goldy and Ed J, I guess Rollie Lindblad built a “unicorn” chassis as well? You are right, Doug is Doug and we aren’t going to change that. Maybe since by his own admission he was a late model guy he is not as well versed on modifieds like others are.

  25. We all talk about great drivers both past and present. What about the great car owners like Lenny boehler, Rollie lindblad, Art Barry ECT… This is why we need a true champions race to honor great drivers, car owners, and builders like Triyer and Flemke. The sport is full of such great names who have gone away. Many of these guys made significant contributions to the sport. They deserve a “special” race, an annual event to show they are not forgotten.

  26. While we allll would like a Big Race like we have at Pocono ROC, I don’t think ever will happen again, when there was talk of bringing back the Thompson 300, Don Hoenig who was still in charge insisted that pole/outside pole were winners on summer races at Thompson which we all know NASCAR has set pole rules and sponsors to take care of so that would never happen, open comp would be ok but Thompson has never done even before allllll the financial issues of the oval.
    I thought maybe the MUSKET 250 paying 25k to win and 25k lap money 1st year would bring many more cars but only 31 CARS showed up, Tri track which has the most diverse entries from all series has been getting lower in car counts the last few years, unfortunately ROC teams stay in NY/PENN, southern teams stay at BOWMAN gray, WMT teams stay on WMT mostly, Pocono was the most centrally LOCATED track for all teams but will never happen again.
    As far as the Richie Evans race, I agree that 61 laps might be good when u run the race last night of 5 nights, as the field of cars went down as the week went along due to mechanical issues and accidents. and as far as JB III while the BLEWETT family number is 76 he ran the 66 mostly along with the 77 for Curt Chase and the 8 Sheba and 44 Fiore cars for 1 yr.

  27. Anti unicorn crowd aye. That’s fine. But the reference was apt and most without delicate sensibilities knew exactly what it meant. As well as being accurate in so far as it is an exception in tour modifieds that also most are aware of. An exception that has been an exception for quite some time that all of a sudden made a huge jump in performance with exceptional performance on the inside grove on an outside grove track at speed.
    It was early 1980 something I had just finished my first Street Stock, was nervous as all get out and thought taking it to Raceworks would be a really smart thing to do. As I recall it was in a small industrial park over by Magarita’s Mexican Restaurant in East Hartford near Pratt. Long story short they weighed it up, didn’t change a thing, didn’t recommend a thing and it stunk even for a novice driver. That’s another story. What I did get a full dose of was THE Ed Flemke. After he explained the deal on the car he spent what seemed to be a long time advising me on driving style. Patient and smooth were the themes and whatever happens don’t lose your cool. Junior was there but never said a word that I thought was odd since I believe it was his operation at the time but I digress. I only had the one conversation with him that was more of a listening then anything else but my recollection was he was simply a wonderfully gracious person. He stuck his head in the car as I’d go out for practice or a race every now and then but gave up on that after a while no doubt concluding this guy has no future as a driver at all.
    So Ed J when you pin the folksy label on me thinking there is some fault to it I see the opposite. Ed Flemke was the epitome of folksy as far as I could tell and it served him pretty well.

  28. JD, yeah, I think a 61 lap RE race would be good. The way it was, there was no racing at go-time. Everyone was spent, nothing left.

    Rob p., I’m liking all your ideas, but it takes sponsors to put up the 💰, and lots of it. Really like the idea of moving the race around.

    💰 💰 💰 💰 💰 💰 💰 💰 💰

    Perhaps it would be a safe start to do it at Loudon, where there are good crowds which would attract 💰 💰 💰 💰 💰 💰.

    If you purse it, they will show up.

  29. Anybody know what happened to the 07?

    Anyways, it was a pretty good week of preseason ground pounding Modified racing. I know I’m all geared up and ready for the regular season.

  30. I thought John Styger was part of building the original Manchester sand and gravel car

  31. I am wondering why take a street stock to a modified guy to have the set up done? I could be wrong but wouldn’t Jay Stewart, Phil Rondeau, or a Stafford top runner have been a more appropriate choice? That’s like taking a Ford to a Chevy dealer when you have an issue.

    If I remember didn’t Ed Jr also work for Cunio for a while at CD? I wadded up my CD car and I swear when I took it up to the CD shop up in the New Britain area he was the one who repaired it. I was also at Ed’s shop (when it was he and the Reg) off the Berlin Pike I believe, to have a body hung on it once. Super nice guy, very helpful and always came by the car to see if there was anything we needed and provided advise. He always impressed me as a hard working guy that would go above and beyond to get the job done for his customers. Again, that was my experience with him and we were not a force to be reckoned with.

  32. That is a good question actually. It was Stafford not the Speedbowl with different setup characteristics, tires and more. It was before Stuart and Rondeau were Stuart and Rondeau. I knew Raceworks had a moderately successful Stafford Street Stock guy working there who’s name escapes me but for some reason I remember was sponsored by Hour Glass Cleaners. Who clearly knew that the secret to handling started with massive motor home springs in the front but didn’t think it prudent to share that tid bit of information later supplied by Norm Plantier. Enhanced later with tire pyrometer help from a very young but whip smart Mike Paguette. A successful driver in the Streets at the time that was very helpful in subtle changes to stagger, toe, caster and camber adjustment he provided freely knowing I would never be a threat.
    . In retrospect the choice was clearly bad but it was an adventure, had no clue what I was doing and too dumb to aim before I fired.

  33. You hit the nail on the head Earl. That one word you used, customer. They were doing work for you and you were a paying customer. Sounds like the unicorn little Dougie just drove up to the front door and was looking for something for nothing.

  34. Actually little Dougie paid what in todays dollars would be close to a thousand dollars. That was worth twice as much for the memory of having Ed Flemke essentially give me insights into his racing philosophy one on one.

  35. You forgot unicorn, little Dougie.

  36. You are indeed a scamp Ed J but lets take some of that energy you have and interest in Raceworks and see if we can direct it at generating some positive waves regarding the Flemke’s and Raceworks.
    To start it wasn’t started in 1977 like you said it was started in 1980.
    “In 1980, Ed began to drive less frequently, and instead with his son Ed Jr he started “Race Works”, building Modified racing car chassis for customers. ”
    That’s from Steady Eddie Flemke
    Not sure about the whole MSG prototype car thing being accurate either but I’ll keep digging.
    Hmm, that’s interesting. Stafford isn’t showing the chassis builders anymore in it’s teams listing. Although Raceworks did apparently build the chassis for Nickki Chambrello’s SK Light, no 4 but now I don’t know if that is a Raceworks unicorn in the Lights or not.
    We also know Raceworks has been a sub contractor for LFR from at least 2015 up to at least last year when they were doing LFR modifications on the Fury cars coming north for LFR. Maybe you can fill us in on that Ed J seeing as you are the resident Raceworks expert.
    Definitely a lot of history with Ed Jr and Raceworks and to think I was one of the early customers.
    Ed Flemke dead a 53. So young. And ya know how people love singing the praises of passed well known drivers almost to the point they take on qualities they never had. Ed Flemke was so well respected as a driver, mentor and gentlemen it’s impossible to overstate what he meant to local modified racing.
    Thanks Ed J for helping us all remember both the Flemke’s.

  37. Yup there it is. 1977 won the Thompson 300 and Stafford 200. Was leading the 300 when it rained and called himself head of the Over the Hill Gang at the Stafford 200 beating the numerous young up and comers. 1978 won the Chemung Fall Fling 100 his last major race win. The amount of racing he did is staggering compared to today.
    Page 34 the Manchester Sand and Gravel No 10
    Interesting quote 1978. Rocco just said almost the same thing recently.
    “Nobody wants to use their own intelligence to fabricate things any more. Everybody would rather buy. Until I took over here, this team just went out and bought things. The people want to be competitive so they buy. It is spending foolishly.”

  38. Ed J, I just can’t figure out what the fixation is that Doug has with this “unicorn” Raceworks chassis thing? For a self proclaimed “late model guy” maybe he should stay in that lane.

    Raceworks is far from being a “unicorn”.

  39. Curious George says

    So how much did Hirschman win for the week?

  40. If I remember correctly the year Tony Membrino Jr. won three SKL championships in the same season he was driving one of those Raceworks “unicorn” chassis. I guess my next question is what defines a “unicorn” chassis?

  41. Curious,
    Looks to me like $8,000 total including $1,100 for the points title.

  42. Shawn, does that include Bronson?

  43. A unicorn is something that is considered highly desirable and very difficult to obtain.

    🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄

    🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄

  44. Earl,
    No, that’s what I added up from the posted purses from New Smyrna.

  45. Thanks Shawn.

  46. In all fairness the unicorn reference I used was apt and most sincere readers without giant chips on their shoulders knew it was far from an insult and exactly what it meant. It referred to the Raceworks chassis used by Nocella, a rarity in the tour modifieds as the announcers made mention of more then once. It wouldn’t have become a thing if a couple folks more interested in the petty more then substantive hadn’t been so aroused by it.
    And speaking of arousal a unicorn has many definitions from the literal that does not exist to the common that is a broadcast TV comedy to interpretations that are risqué and inappropriate here.
    But here we are and this article is about Hirschman after all. If you have even a hint of well intended serendipity and are not threatened by unfettered whimsy you may appreciate Hirschman as a unicorn in is his own right. With two qualities of a unicorn that refer to “hard to catch or a rare find” very apt on many occasions like last Friday.

  47. Earl, I’m a late model guy. I spent the better part of 25 years working with my brother in law Jim Peterson. Jim was the 2001, 2002 Stafford speedway Track Champion, he also won again in 2009 driving for Joe Hamm. Point being I’m also a Modified fan, and do my best to keep current on the sport. Last season, due to health problems, I only attended 4 races at Stafford. The only Tour race I attended was the fall final, and again due to my health left after only 20 laps. Does that make me any less of a fan? I think Doug’s original comments were taken out of context. His use of the word unicorn, concerning the Raceworks chassis was referring to the fact that Nocella was the only team using a Raceworks car successfuly no less. Yes Membrino ran a Raceworks car the year he won 3 SKL championships, but no one has had recent success with those cars in Tour or Tour type competition. Plain and simple. But please don’t throw insults at us old late model guys, your just lowering yourself to Dareals level. Just my opinion

  48. Just a point of clarification Rob p. I was a Street Stock guy. Big HP, no after market springs, no jacking bolts, no lead, no interior body panel removal, no fuel cell required at first. That morphed into the Late Models that were basically Street Stocks with interior panels removed, fuel cells, jacking bolts, after market springs and lead ballast. You as I understand it were of the more sophisticated generation of Late Models bearing no identity to the 1980’s version that I was building. You were Pro Stock or post Pro Stock that was a purpose built chassis having only the metric chassis to claim as stock. What we view as the Late Models of today that in sophistication is closer to a modified then a 1980’s vintage Late Model.
    Did I get that right?

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