Heated: Long Day At Star Speedway Leaves Matt Hirschman Perturbed With Officiating At SBM 125

Matt Hirschman(Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

EPPING, N.H. –  When it comes to the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series SBM 125 at Star Speedway, it’s fair to say Matt Hirschman is typically the odds-on favorite to win before teams even arrive for the event. 

Hirschman has long shined at the tight Epping, N.H. bullring. In the last five SBM 125 events at Star before Saturday’s event Hirschman had three wins, a third place and a fourth place. 

It’s clear Hirschman knows his way around the Star quarter-mile. Unfortunately for Hirschman in Saturday’s SBM 125 it wasn’t getting around the track that hurt him, but getting around the tight confines of the Star pitting area that was his demise.

Frustrations building up through the steamy afternoon and into feature time Saturday for Hirschman reached a crescendo when he was penalized for speeding in the pits under caution during the feature.

The penalty put him Hirschman, a six-time Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series champion, down one lap and removed him from eligibility for the lucky dog free pass for the remainder of the event. Hirschman ended up 21st in the 29-car field at Star. 

After the event Hirschman insisted he wasn’t speeding. Hirschman said he feels like series officials have been searching for reasons to penalize him through the first four events of the 2022 season. 

“I kind of feel since the beginning of the season there’s been things that have happened and I feel like they’ve been trying to get me on something,” Hirschman said. “It’s a judgment call, so anytime you have a judgment call you can get somebody.” 

Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series rules state that the times from tire scrub set the lineup for heat races. Because of a timing issue with the track on Saturday the heat lineups were set by practice times. Hirschman was fastest in practice which put him starting fourth in the third heat race. 

Hirschman said he thinks the rule is unfair and ultimately was what set his issues in motion on Saturday. 

Early in the the third heat Hirschman got driven high up the track by Sam Rameau. After getting out of the groove Hirschman fell back and finished last in the 9-car heat. 

“I’m not complaining about the series or anything. but the format they have now puts the fastest car in fourth place,” Hirschman said. “Which, you’re already out of the potential invert. To me that’s too severe of a handicap. But, A, there was an issue with the [timing], and that might be a track issue and not the series. That’s legit, whatever, it’s fine. Then when they realized that the scoring wasn’t going to work, then they went by practice speed, which I was first. So I got that fourth place penalty, and so didn’t the second and third place [in practice]. We all started fourth in our heats and ended up getting washed out and sent backwards. To me that wasn’t fair to the racer. You penalized those cars for going fast in practice? What are you supposed to do? Because of the scoring issue, if they wanted to go heads up, fine. Even if they had inverted three and put the fastest three cars in [starting position] three in each heat, then you’re already in the invert and you’ve still go to maintain or move forward. To me that would have been fair. But I don’t see what happened as fair.” 

It left Hirschman starting 28th in the feature. From the start it was clear Hirschman’s plan was to back off and save tire from the start. Hirschman rode around at or near the back of the field for most of the early going.

By lap 40 then race leader Chase Dowling was closing quickly on Hirschman at the rear of the field and at that point Hirschman started passing cars. Eventual race winner Jake Johnson went to the lead on lap 52 and quickly began working traffic at the tail end of the lead lap. In front of him Hirschman was frantically trying to pick up spots. 

The first caution of the race flew on lap 74 with Hirschman running 19th. The majority of the field went to the pits. When the cars arrived back out on the track Hirschman was 10th in the running order, having picked up nine spots during the pit stop. 

Under caution though Hirschman was deemed to have violated the speeding in the pits rule and was assessed a one-lap penalty. 

Monaco Modified rules state that along with the one-lap penalty for speeding, offenders are not eligible for the Lucky Dog free pass for the remainder of the event. 

Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series managing partner Ed Bennett said series official Greg Felton made the definitive judgment to call Hirschman for speeding. Bennett said the speeding rule is not judged simply by speed, but also by the effort to not put other drivers, crew members or officials in danger in the tight confines of the pit area.

Hirschman was seen by multiple officials making what were deemed unsafe maneuvers to get around other cars and crews to get back to the track. He also hit the car of Dylan Izzo in the pit area. 

“I don’t feel I was speeding,” Hirschman said. “I did weave my way through. Meaning, if a car pulled out or tried to pull out or stalled, I didn’t break my momentum. I just weaved my way through. I don’t feel I was speeding.” 

Said Bennett: “Greg [Felton] made the call. I mean, he jumped wheels with Izzo’s car. I witnessed that. He blew by me and I was waving for him to slow down.” 

After the penalty Hirschman rode near the rear of the field for the remainder of the event. There were seven cautions following the penalty. 

“The penalty is so severe you basically can’t get [your lap] back,” Hirschman said. “Obviously in today’s racing lead lap cars go to the front so anytime a caution comes out you’re automatically going to go backwards. So you’re never going to get there. It’s such a severe penalty that if you want to get somebody on it, they got me.” 

Ultimately, Hirschman seemed to regret pushing the limit and putting himself in a position to be called for speeding. 

“If I would have stopped – whatever – and just let people go – even if five cars got out ahead of me – I just needed to go beat them on the track,” Hirschman said. “I guess I allowed myself to be subject for a judgment call. … Basically, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. I’ll make sure that it doesn’t happen again.” 

Fast Learner: Jake Johnson Wins Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series SBM 125 At Star 

RaceDayCT Rant – The Disturbing Fallout From The Matt Hirschman Controversy 


  1. if you won”t allow a driver to recover a lap,, then you should black-flag him..

  2. Does any of this seem comical to anyone here??? So you ride around the race track for 75 laps as slow as humanly possible, but you’re in such a hurry to get out of the pits that you’re willing to smash into other competitors! What a joke!

  3. Tired Guy says

    I’m a crew member who was in the pits last night and saw the whole thing with Matt. I usually don’t comment on anything but this deserves it. I’ve been reading the comments all over today from the Hirschman fans crying about how he got screwed. They need to shut up. What Matt did was dangerous and put the safety of people in the pit area at risk. He nearly hit two crew members while weaving to avoid other cars and he hit another car trying to speed by it. And the whole time officials were signaling at him to slow down. I respect Matt as one of the best racers ever but his fans are the worst around and think he could never do any wrong. He screwed up himself.

  4. Isn’t there two issues.
    The first the judgement call he seems to be a peace with if not expressing any contrition. It’s like when he took Silk out in a MMTTS race. He’ll think about it, realize he was in the wrong and move on.
    The severity of the penalty the other given him virtually no chance to climb back into contention. Does that make sense? He’s the biggest name in the series. Is a race death penalty in the best interest of the series?

  5. Doug,
    I’ll offer this response just speaking generally of punishments, whether in racing or anything else. It would seem to me the penalizing someone for anything is as much about establishing a deterrent for others who might commit the same infraction. It’s not just about penalizing the action, but sending the message to others not to do it.

  6. Joe Kossie says

    Safety is a big concern, don’t cry because you didn’t abide by the rules….

  7. Someone wrote, “The severity of the penalty the other given him virtually no chance to climb back into contention. Does that make sense? He’s the biggest name in the series. Is a race death penalty in the best interest of the series?”

    So the big names are exempt from the rules? If anyone can do it, everyone can do it. Does that make sense?

  8. cut the krap.. if you want to make a statement.. then sit a man down for the night… otherwise… let him race..

  9. Suitcase Jake says

    When you have a small pit area…. Have the field lineup frozen …. Enter the pits for 5 min service time … Return to the Track in the position you entered… If you stay out you are ahead of all the cars that pitted… This way their is no rushing around and US crew guys don’t get injured while volunteering their time … When you rush you make mistakes and people get hurt…. I have seen some horrible stuff on pit road…. Driven crew members to the Hospital for stitches from the jack handle shot into the face…Crew members getting run over and all other kinds of stuff when the car falls off the jack…. If there is no room go to the Cold pitstop … You return to the spot you were running…. No Hurry … No injuries…

  10. The article states he picked up 9 spots on the pitstop and hit another car in the pits. Those facts has me thinking maybe he was driving a little fast and reckless in the pits probably warranted a penalty. Its a judgement call so it will be questioned depending on who you root for. Learn from your mistakes be more carefull driving thru a tight pit area.

    A penalty like this is meant to deter the action. It probably should be severe and ruin your night. We dont want anyone hurt in the pits trying to change a tire. Its good to see the big names penalized by a tour or sanctioning body. There shouldnt be favorites. everyone should be subjected to the same rules and penalties.

  11. What I find interesting is he would have went just slow enuff to not be fastest in the time session to his own benefit, and basically saying I only go as fast as I want. Nobody wants to admit it but that car has so much more than everyone else in the field, hes just toying with the times to not make it too obvious. He ran fastest lap of the race way later than entire field once again and by almost 2 tenths, at that point in time it was almost 4 tenths faster than the top 3, how is that possible on equal tires? And by the way he did that in traffic, he coulda ran even faster if needed.


    My problem with all this is why have a lucky dog?. 1/4 mile track, drive through the field and get on the lead lap and wait for a caution (or create your own). Dump the dog and while they are at it get rid of the cone, paint it like a fire hydrant. Just race, let the leader pick outside or inside, the racing will take care of itself. What next stage racing, like SMART, caution after 30. NASCAR poison keeps trickling down to short track series which is a shame. Tri track was a good series, the new regime tried to fix what was not broken in the first place, which is a shame, mainly cuz the officiating is lame.

  13. I heard an Italian satellite took control of the car once it was off the racing surface.

    You said: “Tri track was a good series, the new regime tried to fix what was not broken in the first place, which is a shame, mainly cuz the officiating is lame.”
    You couldn’t be further off base with this comment. You can’t even compare the officiating crew that is in place now to what was in place when the series was controlled and operated by Jim Schaefer and Dick Williams from 2014-2016. The officiating crew in place since 2017 is galaxies better than what was in place from 2014-2016. The officiating crew that is in place now with the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series is hands down one of the best in the business.
    To say they tried to fix what was not broken is ludicrous. Since 2017 the operating group has created a far more diverse schedule and taken the series to new and better facilities all the while continuing to increase purses and go above and beyond for participants. This was a series that from 2014-2016 had no chance to compete at tracks like Stafford or Thunder Road because of the struggles within management. And most importantly, this is a series that is now run fairly. From 2014-2016 this was a series where one of the operators of the series was literally in the grandstands during their own events openly cheering on one of the drivers competing in the events. How could any competitor in a series think they’re being treated equally or fairly when one of the people operating the series literally doesn’t even hide that he has a rooting interest and favorite to see win the events he is putting on? The foundation that was laid by Williams and Schaefer from 2014 to 2016 was a good base to work from, but to say the series was run better or more fairly during that span than it has been in last six years is simply laughable on so many levels.

  15. Fast Eddie says

    When you are as quick, fast, and skilled as the 60 is, getting the lap back in my eyes was not insurmountable challenge. I think running over another car’s wheel in the pits is a significant safety issue worthy of a penalty. I’ve seen him go through the field at that track before, a definite possibility for him to get to the front and hope for a caution. I don’t think there are many that could do it, but I would bet he could.

  16. wmass01013 says

    MH always has a race plan, i think the normal save the car the 1st half of the race, pit, and race the 2nd half of the race was thrown off with the 74 green flag laps to start, he did not gain any spots from others pitting on previous cautions so when the yellow flew on lap 74 and almost the entire field pitted on that caution, he knew he had to gain some spots maybe normally gained thru previous cautions and only 50 laps left, so the UNEXPECTED rush not to still be 20th when the green flew again.

  17. “It would seem to me the penalizing someone for anything is as much about establishing a deterrent for others who might commit the same infraction.”

    Don’t just agree with that it’s music to my ears. And I’m thinking that should extend to current events beyond racing as well but not appropriate here so moving on.
    Just wondering how often this specific penalty has been used. I can’t recall it being enforced before but it could have with a less prominent driver that went under the radar. Or are we talking about a once in a blue moon type of deal?
    Having watched the early SMART races the safer, structured way they pit with the scheduled break did not lessen the excitement factor as far as I was concerned. Some cars stay out and the ones that pit get better or worse depending on the changes they make so there is drama as opposed to the MRS not pitting. Safety has to be the priority so perhaps they could take a harder look at that.
    Just to clarify were the 60 to have his 9 spot gain erased and put back to the tail end of the lead lap that is a penalty. In his case you can perceive it as minor because he is who he is but it’s still hard coming back that far with only about a 50 lap sprint to go.
    If this was a once in a blue moon type of deal you could interpret a strict penalty as a message in search of an audience that doesn’t exist. With regard Hirschman he’s a smart guy and certainly would have learned as much from being put back to last on the lead lap as receiving the one race death penalty. Admittedly a self serving position on my part mainly because the excitement factor of the 60 rallying from scratch to get to the kid that had the field covered would have been off the charts.
    As deprived as I feel in being deprived of seeing the 60 go electric you have to go with the call. Clearly they saw something that alarmed them. A first hand account rendered in this thread making the urgency more vivid and Mr. Courchesne who has the best insights is seemingly backing them up to the limit.
    Put another way they went up to the biggest, baddest, most intimidating guy in the school yard, punched him in the mouth to make a point.
    Message received!

  18. In this day and age of tire rationing, there is no way a car can come back from being a lap down. Also, the car would need many laps to do so. MH is good at saving tires, but using the tires up to get a lap back and then be in contention is simply impossible given the number of laps available and tire rationing.

  19. Well when they piss off Matt enough and doesn’t participate in the whole series then we will have a glorified MRS series,Silk was not there,McKennedy jumped ship.

  20. Muddbus,
    Just for the sake of clarity here, are you aware that on Saturday at Star – besides Matt – there were five other former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winners in the field, including the guy who won the most recent series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? Insulting every other driver competing with the series just to put Matt on a pedestal is a weird way to go about things.

  21. Fast Eddie says

    Mudbus, can’t believe you’d think that. No comparison between TriTrack and MRS, with or without Hirschman. Lately that analogy equivalent would be NFL compared to a high school game without enough players for the teams.

  22. having live pitstops is just an accident waiting to happen…. Freeze the field.

  23. Glen Chartier says

    When I go to any modified race I want to see racers racing not sandbagging like M.H. does just to save his tires for a later run. I’ve seen this act many times with M.H.Most of the times his strategy works. If you dealt a bad hand that day just deal with it .The way I see it M.H as one of the best should always be racing on the track not riding around like I saw at Star.If everyone near the back did that no one would go to watch this. Also maybe M.H. Can use the same tires he raced on at Star for his next race since he really never raced this Saturday. Just saying

  24. Richard RADUCHA says

    It’s been a weekend of stricter rules finally being enforced. Kyle Busch Denny Hamlin Matt Hirschman all receiving penalties that several seasons ago would never have been administered…or given.

  25. The Star SBM used to be a PREMIER event. That Silk, McKennedy, Goodale, and even Coby weren’t there makes one think 🤔. The SBM used to attract the big names of the NWMT… this SBM event, not so. The SBM & TTOMS didn’t have all that mojo this time. This was a normal TTOMS event, nothing special.

    Live pit stops are a part of racing. Doing them safely is a part of racing.

    I would not miss MH at all. He paces for the first half of the RACE, saving his tires to sandbag at the end. MH joins the race in the second half. Same old story every time.

    I heard an owner say that modified racing has become a series that races tires, not cars. That is so very true.

  26. Suitcase Jake says

    Good fella couldn’t AGREE more… Tires are the hot commodity …..They hold the tires so
    know-one can add tire softener …. Depending on the amount of laps 100 – 125 it’s tire
    conservation … Everyone saw at Seekonk big Money did like 2 laps in the heat race … pulled in the pits . Did 2 laps or less in the consi… He knew the rules played the game
    perfectly .. got the provisional and drove to the front with the FRESH tires …. He plays
    Chess … Others play checkers… You gotta hand it to HIM.. He’s smart and uses the RULES to His ADVANTAGE…. He got the penalty… So just ride around and gather as many points as possible…He is Talented and Smart with Strategy.. If you can change tires
    you don’t have to Sandbag as much..With limited or no tire changes allowed you have to
    go into tire Conservation MODE or get Crushed in the last 25 laps of the Feature…. I was
    also one of the ones wishing Big Money got sent to the Rear and we were able to see HIM charge to the Front and Challenge for the WIN … But without the LUCKY DOG it would have been almost impossible to drive to the FRONT TWICE… I AGREE….I think
    many of the FANS kinda felt a little short changed when Big Money got the death penalty..
    it just wasn’t the SBM 125 with a lame duck 60 riding shotgun ….But rules are rules … I
    know this.. Big Money won’t let it happen again… Jake Johnson did a FANTASTIC JOB !!
    Now everyone knows what us fans in Southern Ma, already knew…. This KID can really
    wheel a RACECAR.. SLM or Legends or Modifieds he has a Super Smooth style and
    can also jump into a spot in a FLASH like he did in traffic to take the lead back…. Great
    heads up move … Congratulations Jake !!!!

  27. The biggest issue I have is Tri Track has live pit stops with tire changes at tracks where those type of pit stops cannot really be done safely. Other series that have these tracks don’t permit tire changes unless they are flat. So with that you really only have people pitting to fix damage or make major adjustments. But with the Tri Track format you end up with nearly 30 cars trying to change tires at tracks with cramped pits like Star


    well if simply laughable laugh, simply though please, to many levels of laughing may cause lasting damage. Thanks for the reply

  29. Hillary 2024 says

    Looks like Star is canceling their next event to re evaluate their season. Whatever that means. You would think the tri track should have been a big money maker event. Not an event that puts the tracks season in jeopardy.

  30. Patrick Tetreault says

    Does anyone else think Shawn should STFU cause he clearly does not have a clue if he thinks this series is better than it was in 2016 and he clearly is lost if he wants to compare anyone else to being on Matts level it just makes him look bad if all these 5 previous Whelen tour winners are so great then why do they get beat consistently by him any fan watching knows besides a far off one off Dowling Silk or McKennedy are the only legit threats to consistently have a chance to beat him! This series needs Matt more than he needs it we all go trying to see if our favorite driver can beat him! The series is not as good as it use to be for several reasons they use to have a competition caution for the simple reason to prevent Nascar type teams beating the little guy on pit road it worked but they changed it! This whole scuff session time trial is stupid draw out of a hat for your heat go out and race and get your spot it is very simple. The worst thing this series ever did was bring this series to Stafford we don’t need follow the leader racing at a pathetic 1/2 mile if we want to see that crap we can turn the tv on Nascar has it every week!

  31. Shawn you say

    “How could any competitor in a series think they’re being treated equally or fairly when one of the people operating the series literally doesn’t even hide that he has a rooting interest and favorite to see win the events he is putting on? ”

    Couldn’t you make the same argument with the Arutes competing at Stafford? Or Ben dodges car? Or Krause at wall? or Preece at Riverhead? or Preece at any track that Tapley runs? I could name a ton more. If I’m a competitor, it would certainly be in my head if I am racing around them. They don’t have to be openly rooting for them for me to get that idea in my head. Rooting for a car is fine as long as you make decisions neutrally. Racing is full of conflicts of interest.

    And I want to be clear, I am not accusing the Arutes/Stafford/Dodge, Krause/Wall, or Preece/Riverhead/Tapley of any sort of favoritism. They manage their conflict very, very fairly.

    But I also think it’s a bit unfair to call into question Schaefer and tri track back then. I can’t recall any major issues with them during that time.

  32. To Patrick Tetreault. No, I do not think Shawn should STFU. I think he is spot on. If MH isn’t happy with what happened Saturday, then stay home. If there is a Tri track race or another mod race on the same week I will skip tri track because I am tired of what I feel has been obvious favoritism towards MH. And you have it totally backwards. TT was very bad when Schaefer ran it. No one is that lucky. My friends would say are you going to the TT race and I would say no. They would say why? I would reply I don’t need to be there to see the 60 start on the pole in his heat and then start on the pole in the feature. Then just basically run 100 practice laps. They would laugh. Then at the end of the night , they would say wow, you were right! And it is a shame that a race team that has won over 40% of this series races is basically spitting in the face of management because they are not happy with one call against them in 39 races. And one final thing Patrick, try a little punctuation in your sentences so they will be easier to understand!

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing