put on one heck of a show to win that race,” said Tony of the victory.

Actually, Matt Hirschman is somewhat of a master when it comes to Tour-type Modifieds even though he just debuted on the Modified Tour itself.  He hasn’t raced any other type of car actually.  At age 17, he tried out the back-up car for John Markovic and ran a few races here and there.  That grew into a longer schedule of race and from there, Hirschman joined Edelman’s team.  The cars that Matt has driven have been similar all along, but the level of competition hasn’t been the same.

“The cars are similar, it’s just a little bit of a step up,” said Matt.  “On a day like today, [Waterford], this would have been a winning RoC car.  I won last weekend in RoC and eighth place here is like a win there, as competitive as the teams are here.”
Cautious Approach Has Led to Four Championships for Tony, Top 10 in First Race for Matt
Editor’s Note – At Waterford Speedbowl, two second generation drivers made their NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debuts.  Speed51.com spent time with both Chris Pasteryak and his father Charlie, as well as Matt Hirschman and his father Tony.  We found out a little bit about each new driver, how their races went and what their experienced fathers thought after the checkered flag waved and the dust settled.

At Waterford’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race, a driver named Hirschman hopped into a good racecar, qualified respectively and stayed out of trouble throughout 150 laps of short track beating and banging.  His reward was a top 10 finish.  After the race, the driver thought that a slightly better result than eighth could have been possible, but he was playing it conservatively and looking at the big picture in the race.
After the race, Matt’s father was a proud man.

“He did good,” said Tony.  “Real good.  He kept the car nice and clean and came out of here with an eighth place finish on his first night.  That’s very good.”

Was that finish a result of any pre-race advice and coaching from Matt’s very experienced father?  Tony Hirschman dismisses that idea quickly.

“Nah, he knows what to do out there,” said Tony.  “He knows that first impressions are a big thing and that you don’t come here in front of these people and act like an idiot, act stupid and do stupid stuff.  There are car owners here and he didn’t want to make a bad name for himself.  He knew what he had to do to be smart and he did it.”
There should have been no big story in that.  After all, Tony Hirschman has been looking at the big picture for years and that approach has helped win 44 Mod Tour races and four championships.

But it wasn’t Tony Hirschman who finished eighth at Waterford.  It was his son Matt who was in his first Modified Tour event.  In this case, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree at all.

“For our first attempt at a Whelen Tour, I’m really happy with a top ten finish,” said the 22-year-old driver.  “We qualified strongly in 12th and advanced up during the race to finish eighth.  It was my first Tour race, my first race [of any kind] here and our first race together as a team.  There were a lot of firsts tonight.

“I couldn’t be happier.  The competitor in me wants to do better and I think that the potential is there and we could have done better, but I was trying to be really smart and get to the finish.  I didn’t want to be over aggressive and take anyone out or fill any holes that weren’t there.  A lot of guys follow the series for a long time before they can finish in the top 10, so I’m really happy.”
Tony was busy running his own race, but tried to keep updated on Matt’s progress during the event as well.
“There were wrecks there all night and I kept looking and he wasn’t in any of them,” said Tony.  “He was ahead of all the stuff that was happening.  That was good.”

Matt will run a limited schedule of Modified Tour events in 2005 for car owner Ed Bennett.  Hirschman also drives in a full schedule Race of Champions events for Scott Edelman.  The week before Waterford, he won an event in that series at Mahoning Valley Speedway (PA) in the RoC ranks.

“We saw last week when it was time to go he did and he
Matt (L) and Chris Pastreyak were both second generation drivers makign their debuts at Waterford. (Howie Hodge Photo)
Father and son Hirschman before the start of the Waterford race.  (51 Photo)
Role Reversal: Chris talks with Charlie before a race last season at Thompson (T), Charlie gives Chris some pointers this past week at Waterford. (B)
mentions in the Speed51 draft,” said Matt.  “It was cool to see my name on there, but I really hadn’t proven myself at this level.  Maybe I made you guys look good for even picking me to be on there.”

Speed51.com also talked to Chris and Charlie Pasteryak after the Waterford event.  For the other story in our series of second generation drivers debuting on the Modified Tour, please click here.

Matt will be back in the #59 Tour Modified this weekend at Jennerstown Speedway (PA) and he knows that the ingredients for a bright future are right there with the team.

“The car is good, the engines are good and the team is good,” said Matt.  “We can do very well together.”

Earlier this year, Speed51.com named Matt Hirschman as one of their honorable mentions in a mock short track draft of future talent in the sport.  He was very honored by that selection.

“Maybe this earns my spot among the honorable
When he's not racing, Matt helps makes the calls for his father's races.  (51 Photo)