Winsome Week: Matt Hirschman Victorious In Monaco Modified Series Season Opener At Monadnock

Matt Hirschman celebrates victory in the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series season opening event Saturday at Monadnock Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

Matt Hirschman started the week by scoring a historic victory at a track he had never won at before. He ended the week by returning to a throne he has long held.

Six-time and reigning Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series champion began defense of his 2021 series title by winning the 100-lap 2022 season opener for the series Saturday at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H.

Hirschman was carrying the momentum to the Granite State bullring from winning the 50th NAPA Spring Sizzler at Stafford Speedway on Sunday to start the week.

It was the 15th career Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series victory for Hirschman, of Northampton, Pa. and his first at Monadnock since June 2015.

“You can win many different ways here,” said Hirschman, who started 18th in the field. I’ve seen it done. This place has been a bit of an Achilles heal for me recently. … In recent years we haven’t found victory lane. We’ve been close, but not as good as we are in a lot of places. So it’s good to get a win here tonight.”

Pole-sitter Sam Rameu of Westminster, Mass. was second and Brian Robie of Sunapee, N.H. third.

Hirschman overtook Matt Kimball for the lead on lap 84 and never trailed again.

“Good racing. [Matt Kimball] is a good racer,” Hirschman said. “He just, without pitting, I think it finally caught up to him. [Rameau] runs real good here. He’s won a couple in recent years. And then Brian Robie jumped up there at the end. I didn’t know where he came from.”

Rameau led the first 48 laps before pitting and fighting back from the rear.

“I gave it all I could,” Rameau said. “Coming from the back like that with just a little bit of time left, it’s a really hard task to overcome. [Matt Hirschman] is just about the best there is. So it’s like a win for this team, our first race of the year to come second to him.”

Robie made a charge to the podium through a rash of late cautions.

“We were stuck back there in 10th or 12th or whatever,” Robie said. “I felt the car come to me. It felt pretty good there toward the end.”

Rameau held the lead virtually unchallenged over the first third of the event. On lap 37 a spin by Dylan Izzo brought out the first caution of the race.

With the caution flying the bulk of the leaders went to pit road with Rameau staying on track. The race restarted with Rameau out front and Robie to his outside with Jake Johnson in third and Matt Swanson in fourth. Rameau continued his stranglehold on the top spot.

Kimball moved past Robie for second on lap 47 and a lap later the caution flew once again for the spinning car of Max Zachem.

Under caution Rameau went to the pits, handing the lead to Kimball, with Johnson in second, Ronnie Williams third and Swanson fourth.

Kimball controlled on the lap 48 restart, but on the next lap it was then fourth place running Derek Robbie going off track in turn two to bring the caution out once again.

On the lap 49 restart it was Kimball continuing in control while behind Williams and Hirschman became embroiled in a feisty side-by-side battle for second place for five laps. Hirschman cleared Williams to take control of second place on lap 54.

Caution flew for the fourth time on lap 61 with Kimball leading Hirschman and Williams sitting third. On the ensuing restart it was Kimball in control in the lead with Williams moving past Hirschman to retake second place. Two laps later Hirschman rallied back by Williams to move into second again.

After stalking the bumper of Kimball for five laps, Hirschman got under him through turn two on lap 84 and came off the corner in the lead.

Hirschman quickly checked out from Kimball over the next eight laps with Rameau fighting his way back to third place, but the caution flew on lap 60 after Richard Savary spun during a battle for fifth with Johnson.

Hirschman was able to check out from Rameau on the lap 96 restart but it was a short-lived fury. Cory Plummer spun on the frontstretch to bring out the caution on lap 99.

On the final restart it was Hirschman checking out to leave Rameau and Robie to battle for the runner-up spot.

Kimball, of Bennington, N.H., ended up fourth and Chase Dowling of Roxbury was fifth.

The race was the first in series history to employ the “choose rule” for restarts and featured the introduction of the Call Before You Dig 811 Cone to set the starting order before restarts.


  1. Surprised only 23 car might be a all time low for tri track

  2. getserious says

    Impressive reporting and write-up. The race only ended an hour ago.
    You didn’t mention the “cone” restart alignments. Was this the first time TriTrack used them?
    It did shuffle things up a few times. Good race, worth waiting through the dragged-out rest of the night’s show. Five hours! Imagine taking a friend to introduce them to racing and have them sit through that? They’d never return.

  3. It was a pretty good race; surprised Rameau pitted so early. Matt is currently the best Asphalt driver in the country, and not much of an argument. From Monadnock to New Smyrna he is winning up and down the East Coast!

  4. wmass01013 says

    i am surprised the 9 Dodge/Dowling car has been so average the 1st few races this year

  5. Bill Realist says

    Getserious- The dragging out of that show by monadnock is nothing compared to what Claremont is capable of. Went up there opening day. Advertised 2pm start. First heat actually rolled at 2:18. 5-6 minute delay from one heat leaving the track to the next one on. It just seemed like there was a good amount of confusion between track management and track officials themselves.

  6. Suitcase Jake says

    Great Race …. Ben Dodge did a GREAT JOB…. Kept His call straight and was on top of what was on the Screen & the Racetrack….Chris , Rameau pitted 10 laps AFTER most of the Field pitted on lap 37 . Rameau pitted at lap 47 …Interesting on the Pick’em . If you had Big Money in your TOP 5 but not picked to Win you get 1 point instead of 0 ZERO for picking Him to Win…I am sure Doug will post Results soon.. It was Fun Pool … Lots of good picks by those who jumped in thank you for helping US out to test out the system..

  7. Ok can we please now give Money Matt his due put big money on the line and Matt is going to get up on the Wheelits April and he is over $40k already he can make this a $100k year if he goes to specific shows he picks and chooses races that he feels he can win. Money Matt deserves to be mentioned in The likes of Evans Stefanik and others like that.

  8. I appreciate Matt’s approach to his schedule, hit the events that make the most sense and opportunity to make cash. His record over the last decade is nothing short of amazing, in that 60 car, forget about it, podium all day long and typically the winner. Wind back the clock some 50+ years and Matt would fit right in as an “Eastern Bandit”… nothing but respect for this man.. Happy and fitting to see him in Sizzler victory lane as well..

  9. getserious says

    Hey Bill, Claremont, yes it’s always been a poorly run event. In the old days they’d have to shut down at midnight (way back when they ran on Sat night) because they couldn’t race on “Sunday.” There were a few times it dragged out that long. Same thing happened at Waterford when I was there once. Pitiful.
    It really must be a hard job to wrangle a show properly, because no one can do it! Look at Stafford’s 7+ hour cluster last week. The only place that does it well is Thunder Road, and they are phenomenal; just so well-run. I think it goes back to to their no-nonsense benevolent dictator Tom Curley. He knew how to run that show. They could have three 24-car divisions, heat, consis and features, plus a dedicated “intermission’ AND driver introductions and victory lanes, and be out of there in 3-1/2 hours.

  10. Hirschman is a good shoe and I respect his ability.

    However, when he can win nine NASCAR National Modified Championships, including eight in a row from 1978 to 1985 like Evans did while engineering, building, maintaining and racing his own RE chassis will he get my full respect.

  11. Rafter fan says

    The Monadnock Tri-Track event looked a lot like an MRS race, but with a much higher purse and Matt H. In the field.

  12. You’re not far off rafter.

    The opportunist strikes again!

  13. If you’re including Pee Dee between 6 races at New Smyrna, four Smart races, Sizzler weekend, Monadnock and Evergreen today you can double that $40,000 estimate and you’d be closer to correct.
    Whoa there Nelly. Evans, Stefanik and the like. That’s debatable. Each of those racers routinely showed up a events loaded to the gills with the top modified teams in the glory years and won. Years that unlike now had the best teams concentrated in the NWMT.
    Is Hirschman the greatest driver in the current era I don’t even know that there are a lot of really good drivers these days. Is he the greatest racer in the current era of that there is little doubt. Racer combining all elements or racing from fabrication to setup to event selection to race strategy and driving.
    Jerry Cook, Richie Evans, Mike Stefanik and Matt Hirschman??? If you say so but for me you’re getting caught up in the moment.

  14. Matt Hirschman is having a stellar season (no doubt),, I hope he finishes the way he started,, however,, he cherry picks the races he competes in.. Until he competes with drivers who run day-in and day-out on tracks and with schedules and rules that they have no control over (and wins on a consistent basis) I can not show him the respect that those drivers have earned..

  15. BobbyGee says

    I was surprised by the many missing cars for the first race for the series. The crowd was good but not huge- considering the great weather and the opportunity to see two days of racing if you wanted to spend the weekend. I loved the new bleachers in turn 3 & 4. Hard to choose where to watch the race from. The best part of Monadnock is the prices for their food. Much better than last week

  16. BobbyGee says

    I forgot to applaud the racers that did show up. Good clean racing up front (for the most part). Good to see Matt happy about his drive to Evergreen Speedway from NH today.

  17. Maybe organizers should start mailing Matt the check ahead of time, save everyone some trouble.

    Cherry picking doesn’t bother me at all… Plenty of drivers don’t run every race in every series, but not very many of them can show a record like Matt. Many, if not most open mod races include home track drivers who know the place like the back of their hand. I would see that as an advantage to the regulars, not Matt.

  18. The car count has to be a little concerning. Having 23 mods at Monadnock which runs a division of modifieds and is a relatively easy travel for the CT teams makes me wonder what they will get up in VT. For the Monadnock opener last year, I believe they started 28 cars including Silk Bonsignoe, Pitkat, and Nocella all missing this year. That is a lot of talented drivers that fell off the tour. MRS is all but done, they had 13 cars at NHMS are down to 6 races, 4 of which are under their traditional 100 laps. I was thinking Tri track would benefit from MRS downturn and Nascar teams not wanting to do all that costly traveling. It appears as though that thought process was incorrect. I am wondering if inflation is going to greatly affect local racing this year. I thought we would start off good and start seeing driver participation fall off mid to late summer due to part shortages and money spent but it appears we are down from last season right out the gate. Perhaps 4 to 5 dollar hauler fuel. Over 10 dollar a gallon race fuel and 190 dollar tires may be the tipping point. Hopefully the Tri track car count can build from here. I certainly hope they can at least maintain at these levels going forward. But being realistic, I think we are going to see some short fields this summer. Its getting more and more expensive to race these days.

  19. “Maybe organizers should start mailing Matt the check ahead of time, save everyone some trouble.”

    I’ll bet Matt would sure love that, wouldn’t he!

    How about they just make him show up and race for the money rather than just handing it to him.

  20. Jimmy King says

    In dirt track racing guys who run a true “outlaw“ schedule are celebrated. Brandon Overton in dirt late models for example. Why is this not the case in asphalt modified racing? Regardless of spec or open motor, the different tire compounds for the various modified tours and open shows, or the various race formats Hirschman is a contender everywhere he unloads…with the PeeDee team or his family car. If what he is accomplishing doesn’t impress you must be know more than Ryan Preece and others who have given Matt his due recently in interviews. I appreciate watching the excellence while actually rooting for another driver/team. Wake up! If others could do what he is doing, they would!

  21. Chase Dowling was dominant at times last year winning at a number of different race tracks. Unloaded for the Sizzler and the magic was gone. That or everyone else got better. He’ll figure it out but it illustrates one thing which is how difficult it is to be consistently excellent. Yet the Pee Dee and Hirschman versions of the 60 don’t seem to be affected by the off season. Teams change things over the winter, get better or worse. The Pee Dee 60 unloads at New Smyrna in February or the red 60 unloads in April and nothing changes. Black or red they pretty much look the same and inevitably are the fastest of near fastest car on the track. It races, wins or comes close to winning and never seems to have an equipment failure. We take if for granted something that isn’t really fair to the 60’s seeing as how difficult it is to be so good year in and year out.
    For the first time ever was a full on Hirschman fan in the Sizzler mainly because he was an underdog and the stakes for him winning historically couldn’t have been greater. Awash in a warm glow in excess of the beer consumed as the checkers flew then again when his dad came running out to meet him. A very rare poignant moment in racing encompassing every element of a good story even bigger then the amount of money won.
    I’ll be a fan once again as Hirschman represents modified racing in the SRX race at Stafford but otherwise it’s back to admiring the 60’s but rooting like heck for anyone that can knock the big dog off his game. Like when Rameau did it in the first MMTTS race at Monadnock last year blowing past Hirschman then Silk as the laps wore down for the win. Or that magical week Anthony Nocella had at New Smyrna in 2020 the high point nipping Hirschman at the line in the John Blewett III Memorial 76.
    It’s important to have an Evans or Stefanik or Christopher or Hirschman for some of us to root against.

  22. Spot on Jimmy King! Overton has been so successful running a true ‘outlaw’ schedule that Chris Madden has followed him. Overton won $273k in four nights at Eldora last year. Madden won over $200k in four nights at Bristol a few weeks ago.

  23. Fast Eddie says

    Definitely surprising to see what for TriTrack could be considered a “short” field. Missing a couple of NY racers, maybe due to fuel costs? Also missing some of the mid-to-back of the pack teams, hope they appear at future events. Weather was nice due to sunny skies, but pretty cold with the wind coming at you in 3 & 4. It actually felt warmer when the sun went down because the wind died down with it. Like him or hate him, you gotta respect the skills of the Hirschman team. Hopefully there are some different winners to spread some of the $$ around though.

  24. Where was Silk and McKennedy, surprised they weren’t there. They are front of the pack teams.

  25. crypto racer says

    Hirschman doesn’t need any respect, he is winning and cashing the checks.. LOL .those “other guys ” could show up too. Is Matt the only one cherry picking ? . sorry he is in a great place and deserves it. doesn’t waste money. racing is a business. and business is good. stop the hate and move on ..PS what chassis is Matt running ? it a LMFAO chassis ? .

  26. Fast Eddie says

    Thanks Earl, I missed typing that in my comment, along with Nocella. No Jim Paige 00 either.

  27. Is the glow over for TriTrack?

    Decent purse, yet a light field, weak field, and big names that were regulars and expected were missing.

    Is there something going on that we don’t know about?

  28. darealgoodfella,

    I think people are rushing to doomsday scenarios and not looking at the sum of the factors in place setting up to that field on Saturday.

    – In recent years, the lowest numbers for Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series events have been at Monadnock events.

    – The race was run six days after one of the biggest events in years in Open Modified racing in New England.

    – Leading up to the race there were three consecutive weekends of Open Modified events in New England (Thompson, Loudon, Stafford) plus a Whelen Modified Tour event at South Boston on April 1. With parts shortages and increased costs for everything, I think the Monadnock race ended up losing some teams they would have typically had because of these variables mentioned and being at the end of this string of activity.

    I’m surprised to see how many people are ready to basically call it the end of the road for the Tri-Track success after one event with a lower than typical car count. If there’s 23 cars at Seekonk on June 29 maybe then the panic can begin.

  29. Fast Eddie says

    Great points Shawn, didn’t think of it being consecutive weekend #4 for open mods combined with parts supply issues, not to mention the $$ to run 4 in a row.

  30. I hope I didn’t come off too negative. I was surprised by Monadnocs car count and some of the names that weren’t there I didn’t realize it was the fourth week in a row for open mod tour events. That is a good point to take into consideration. I thought going into this year that tri track would become a bigger player in the modified division. I am not so sure about that now but its one race. No need to hit the panic button.

    I was going to watch the Spring sizzler today on Floracing and stumbled upon something called the bottom shot podcast. It had Tom Fox, Scott Tapley and an Arute talking about Stafford and Tom Fox’s racing/officiating career. It was pretty entertaining and worth a look. It was right around an hour long. Apparently, there are 3 seasons of them and this episode was season 3 episode 1 released Mar 7 2022

    Hey who won the pick 6?

  31. I don’t think it’s time to stick a fork in the MMTTOMS as it’s one of the strongest series in New England. Between parts supply issues, tire shortages, the number of tracks hosting tour type modified events and fuel prices, teams are forced to make decisions that may not be popular with the fan base. It all comes down to the almighty $$$ and what the budget will bear.

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