Big Money Looking To Sizzle: Matt Hirschman Files Entry For 50th NAPA Spring Sizzler At Stafford

Matt Hirschman (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

In the landscape of the top talent in Tour Type Modified racing in the Northeast, there are just a few name names not currently on the entry list for the 50th NAPA Spring Sizzler on April 24.

Monday one of those names went from off the list to on it.

Matt Hirschman confirmed to RaceDayCT Monday that he will be chasing the big money and more on Sizzler weekend at Stafford April 23-24.

The allure of a big purse and loads of lap money had already made the event an attractive possibility for Hirschman. The addition of the winner of the event getting a starting spot in the SRX Series field at Stafford on July 2 was the final piece needed for drawing Hirschman.

“It puts it over the top,” Hirschman told RaceDayCT Monday. “It’s just too hard to pass up with that in there. It’s going to be a competitive field and it’s going to be no easy race for whoever wins for sure with the level of competition with the opportunity that is there.”

Hirschman is the 42nd driver on the entry list for the event. Hirschman, one of the most successful Tour Type Modified drivers in recent years adds to the significance of an entry list that already includes a former NASCAR Cup Series champion and four former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champions.

Hirschman has 14 Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series victories and and has won the division’s championship in six of eight years. He also has five career Whelen Modified Tour victories, including a win this year’s season opening event at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway on Feb. 12.

The Spring Sizzler will be contested as a Stafford track sanctioned Open Modified event with qualifying heat races scheduled for April 23 and the 100-lap feature scheduled for April 24.

Before this year the Spring Sizzler weekend main event was a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour every year but one from 1985 to 2021. The Whelen Modified Tour did not compete at Stafford in 1988 and the Spring Sizzler main event was contested in SK Modifieds.

Hirschman said returning the race back to an Open show raises the level of distinction for the event.

“It was always known as ‘The Greatest Race in the History of Spring’ and I believe the potential is there for it to be that this year,” Hirschman said. “And not to say that it wasn’t special when it was a part of the Whelen Modified Tour, but, I almost feel like it was just another race on the tour. You were just getting what you were going to get, it didn’t matter if it was a Friday night [Whelen Modified Tour] race in August, or the Fall Final, you were pretty much getting that field for those events, it didn’t matter if it was the Spring Sizzler or not. … It was kind of just another race on the schedule, whereas this year I really believe they’re doing an excellent job with this race. It was too hard to pass up not being there.”

Between the purse money available and lap money available the winner of Sunday’s 100-lap feature could walk away with a payday of more than $30,000. And the winner of the Spring Sizzler will also earn a starting spot in the SRX Series feature at Stafford Speedway on July 2.

Hirschman has earned the moniker “Money Matt” for his success over the last decade in chasing down big money purses in Modified races. But, Hirschman has never won at Stafford Speedway. In 22 career Whelen Modified Tour starts at Stafford dating back to 2005, Hirschman has four top-five finishes and 16 top-10’s. He made his last series start at the track in 2014.

He finished third in the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series Call Before You Dig Connecticut Classic 150 at Stafford on Oct. 24, 2020. That was his last start at the historic half-mile.

“It is a track that I’ve not won at, but, at the same time, I haven’t really competed there much recently,” Hirschman said. “Not that I didn’t have success … from [2006] to [2014]. Not that I wasn’t successful or competitive then, but obviously I’ve been more successful recently. The Tri-Track race [in 2020 at Stafford], although we didn’t win, I know there were comments made that people didn’t think I’d be competitive. I don’t know someone would think that, but I think we proved them wrong. We didn’t win, so I’m certainly not bragging about our performance, but we ran a good portion of the race in second and ended up losing second at the end and finishing third. Chase [Dowling] had everyone covered that day, but we were right in contention.”


  1. This is going to be an *EPIC* event, perhaps one of the biggest Modified racing events in modern history.

  2. Bingo!

  3. nice get for Stafford. I am looking forward to this one.

  4. The only holdouts are Bonsignore and Fifield.

  5. Fast Eddie says

    I figured there was just too much $$ on the line for him to not show up for this; surprised it took this long for him to commit. Let’s just see exactly who is the baddest Modified driver out there, shall we? Dareal, not “perhaps one of”… It is THE biggest!

  6. Who was saying that Hirschman was ducking this race??

  7. Suitcase Jake says

    Doug, Congratulation’s those 2 MILLION key strokes paid off… LOL…..
    BIG MONEY IS IN ….. ONLY a fool wouldn’t have him in the TOP 5 PICK’EM POOL…. Wow we can have a PICK’em POOL with an entry list …. Excellent !!!!

  8. Doug, hope you’re not pitching a tent with this announcement 😂.

    Question is which car? PeeDee or his own red 60?

  9. My early favorites are Chase Dowling and Bobby Santos with Coby a close third.

  10. Talk about a loaded field. Right now the only hold out is Bonsignore, and I’ve got a feeling that before too long we’ll see his name up too. This is shaping up to be one of the most epic modified races of all time NASCAR, we don’t need no stinking NASCAR.

  11. The only thing that could make this any better, would be if they, somehow, could get a true 2 groove track.

  12. Crazy Larry says

    Ken L Ducking he needs Google Maps ! For directions to get there, they have good tech there no BS. Suitcase top 5 Better chance of him getting struck by lightning !! Best of Luck No Money this time empty pockets , too much Great talent on there Lucky if he Finishes at ALL! put that in our pipe.

  13. “The Tri-Track race [in 2020 at Stafford], although we didn’t win, I know there were comments made that people didn’t think I’d be competitive. I don’t know someone would think that, but I think we proved them wrong”

    Hirschman is proud of his prominence in the modified world as well he should be and that sort of statement indicates he does pay attention to what people say.

    You’re right, I wrote too much stuff about him in relationship to the Sizzler and yes it was ridiculous. The process however involved a lot of background study about he and his dad’s career at Stafford that is now in my head and will help me appreciate his involvement even more on Sizzler weekend. Hopefully is mom and dad are part of Sizzler weekend too.

    1980 Evans blows a motor in the Sizzler and comes in 30th. 1981 in a finish for the ages Polverari nips Evans at the checkers in a photo finish. 1982 his motor expires and finishes 25th. 1983 it was a steering problem in the Sizzler and the 61 came in 21st as Greg Sacks went on to win. 1984 Jimmy Spencer won while Evans came in 13th. Most modified fans know what happened later in 1985 but at the Sizzler that year Evans would not be denied beating Brian Ross after coming from the rear not once but twice.

    Talk about ridiculous the Sizzler fields in the early 80’s were ridiculously stacked. Especially in 1985 with so many names that became modified legends in their own right including three that would go onto Cup and win Cup races.

    Evan’s didn’t win every Sizzler right before his death in fact he frequently struggled. But he was there competing and did win that last one he ran that was epic by any standard.

    Hirschman doesn’t have to win the 50th for it to be a big deal. He needed to be there and now is in the race to compete with almost all the rest of the best teams racing in this era. On the other hand if he manages somehow to beat the odds and win the race and that spot in the SRX race at that point there would be no better driver to fill that roll in my view.

    Hopefully we can have a robust Pick-em for the Sizzler. The field is so strong with so many unknowns we might want to think about expanding it to 7 or even 10 for this one. Give it some thought.

  14. Camerissa says

    NASCAR, we don’t need no stinking NASCAR.
    Stafford may not but boy I bet the folks at Thompson promoting the Icebreaker would take them about now.

  15. It all depends on the valve stem caps.

    MH is a bullring specialist… rarely runs anything larger than a large-ish bullring. His success at New Smyrna is because he can run it day after day and get good on it.

    MH spends his time cherry picking high value bullring races, or stealing candy from babies. Way too much 💵 💰 on the line at the Sizzler. Moths are drawn to fire 🔥. He’s stepping into uncharted territory. I hope Stafford Tech is up for this event.

    Stafford is flat, that might work for MH.

    Tire wear and and tire management is also another shrewd skill… if MH can get a read on tire wear at Stafford, he’ll use that as he usually does. But it will be very hard to predict cautions with this diverse field.

    Stafford is like a super speedway to MH.

    Fast Eddie, this event is a real stunner, I bet the management of Stafford is shocked at how this is shaping up. I was curious too, and am extremely pleased to see an Open event get so much attention and entries. Stafford took a shot, and they are winning. All Stafford has to do now is deliver a great event. I hope the weather is perfect. Brings back memories of Evans, Bodine, Jarzombek, Spencer, Kent, Cook and Big Block Modifieds.

    JBon has Stafford on lock, he needs to run. Maybe he’s just letting the drama build and he’ll enter at the last minute… 😝 🤣 Wait for it…

    Surprised a Catalano is not running.

    This event is steeped with Stafford experience, we’ll see how that plays out. Will it turn out to be an event of Stafford talent vs. everyone else, like the North-South combined events end up with North talent owning the show?

    I can’t wait! The aroma of racing gasoline …

    Hey Thompson… you watching this?????

  16. Hard to argue with that camerissa. Will see if this weekend will bring any more entries.

  17. Fast Eddie says

    Camerissa, know what you mean. I don’t know why the Icebreaker purse doesn’t attract at least 25-30 cars. I would also think even the mid-week shows would get 22-25.

  18. JBon is tormenting Coby.


  19. Suitcase Jake says

    Crazy Larry ….. Please put your Top 5 Picks in on this site, along with an Outsider pick . You can leave out BIG MONEY out of your picks and it’s cool with US….. We have different opinion’s of who will be in the TOP 5 POOL … that’s what makes it FUN & Happy.. Take your shot against the POOL REGULAR’S & see how you fare… With a name like Crazy Larry your a perfect fit with the rest of US…. HAVE FUN = BE HAPPY …thanks to Doug’s baiting…. BIG MONEY is coming to the SIZZLER…!!!!!! WOW just like day’s of OLD… Do you think people will leave cars on side of road again and walk in…??Super Traffic jam ??? Does History Repeat itself ????? run out of beer & food ..????

  20. The Nobodies says

    Dareal, Thompson is where you will be wishing you were at 5 laps after they drop the green and cars are single file,follow the car in front of you Lap after Lap after Lap. Why do you think Stafford gets good car counts? Because the teams know you are rarely side by side there.

  21. Cadillac Bill says

    Just a response regarding Hirschman… He is great on the short tracks, but also great on the 1/2 and 5/8ths tracks. The red 60 car wins a lot on the 1/2 mile Lancaster Speedway track (banked), the1/2 mile Spencer Speedway track (no banks), and the 5/8th Oswego Speedway track (banked). I think aside from NH Motor Speedway, Oswego is the fastest track the mods race on, and both the red and black cars have won there.

  22. Fast Eddie says

    Nobodies, obviously you haven’t seen many races at stafford. There is plenty of 2wide and occasionally 3wide racing there. Not too many races at any track have a lot of 2wide racing 5-10 laps into a 100 lap race.

  23. This Sizzler could be epic with all the talent signed up. To date the most epic Sizzler was 1981 with small time local Bob Polverari taking the win over national champion Richie Evans. I’ve got pictures of my then 6 year old brother building beer cup pyromids with Bob that night at the club house.

  24. Actually Fast Eddie, I think The Nobodies has a point. I prefer Thompson over Stafford not just because, of the layout but, because there is a better chance for side-by-side racing throughout a run. For example, even in the 300 and the open 75 lappers last year at Thompson they were racing for the lead and other spots constantly. But, that August NASCAR Tour race at Stafford was a snooze fest. I was in the stands and was praying for a caution- it went what nearly 100+ laps straight green with Preece running away with it? Other recent Stafford Tour-Type/Open races were strung out. Maybe an SK race will have more competition within a longer race but, it seems those mid 2000s Tour races with lead changes throughout a long green flag stretch aren’t present. Maybe it is just the updated chassis and technology who knows I don’t have an Engineering degree or drove a racecar. But, it seems to me that tracks with lots of banking have the advantage over the flatter tracks for side-by-side racing with the exception of New Hampshire being a plate race. Look at how Richmond turned out last week- consistent racing for the lead and throughout the pack. But, I hope I am proven wrong in a few weeks.

  25. Doug Nov. 2021 says about the 2022 Sizzler:

    “Unlikely to attend: Emerling, Sapienza, Fortin, Silk, J. Bonsignor, Coby, McLaughlin, K. Bonsignor, Krause, McKennedy, Lutz, Solomito, Goodale, Lutz, Catalano, Rypkema and Hossfeld.
    On the bubble: Williams, Nocella, Ole Blue, Hirschman and Preece.
    If you’re saying the 2022 Sizzler tour modified event will be something special I’d respectfully disagree. I don’t see how it could be with so many top modified drivers elsewhere.”

    Who was that fool and how could he be so wrong??

    Switching gears project yourself into the future around November 2022. As you ponder the past can you say what would be the biggest, badest event featuring tour mods over the last several years? Will you say 6 races at New Smyrna, 2022 including a NWMT event. Will it be the Sizzler 2022 under fair skies and great car counts? How about the World Series 2022 with NWMT and open mod events on successive days plus the usual dizzying array of other racing divisions? Tri Track at Stafford 2022 has promise. One of the Muskets of years past perhaps, an SBM event at Star or an Open Wheeled Wednesday at Seekonk?
    I’d say none of the above. The most epic, unexpected, over the top event since the original Sizzler was the Tri Track event at Stafford in 2020. The year the pandemic gripped the world with race events never catching up to pent up demand. Virtually every team that could afford to be at the event was there including all the best drivers. The stands could not be filled because that was not allowed but the streaming audience had to make the event one of the most widely viewed tour modified events ever.
    I was clearly wrong on the 2022 Sizzler last November but that Tri Track race in 2020 will likely never be repeated in terms of popularity and focus. That said, 2022 should turn out to be the year with the most high profile, highest paying events in recent memory with an audience never bigger compliments of live event streaming.
    Zoom, zoom!

  26. the faster the cars = less side by side racing / more laps = less side by side racing

  27. Forget engines, chassis, shocks, etc. because what is really being raced is tires. Tires are limited, so they have to save the tires. That’s why the cars fall into single file a few laps into the race and just pace around until there is about 25 laps left, TO SAVE THE DAMN TIRES. And then we have ourselves a good ol’ Saturday night short track shootout. They are saving the tires for the end. There was a race a couple years ago where tires were not rationed, and cars pitted often, taking on tires… it was the good old days, all the tires they could eat.

    Moran is a master at tire management. Stone is a master at tire management.

    The allocation of tires changed everything about racing. Saving tires until the end became the crucial discipline. The cars that didn’t make it to the end never learned.

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