Some racers go their whole life without ever winning a championship. When your last name is Hirschman, championships are expected. Winning championships is a way of life.
Tony Hirschman, Jr. started it all off by winning five NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championships during a 10-year period from 1995 to 2005. His son, Matt, is an eight-time RoC Asphalt Modified Tour champion.
Tony Hirschman’s other son, also named Tony, doesn’t have any on-track championships of his own, but he’s contributed plenty to the family name from the spotter’s stand. This weekend, the 41-year-old is heading to Homestead-Miami Speedway with a chance to add even more to the Hirschman family legacy as he has a chance to bring hardware from all three of NASCAR’s national divisions home to “Mud Lane” in Northampton, Pennsylvania.
“You start the year off and that’s the goal is to win races and you know that if you do everything right and the situation plays out right then you should have the opportunity to race for three championships at the end of the year,” Hirschman said. “Going into Phoenix last week you aren’t sure if you’ll even be going for one much less three of them, but all of the races played out the way they were supposed to and it’s worked out and we won when we needed to and got the right points when we needed to so here we are this week.”
Tony Hirschman III’s story begins as a kid in Pennsylvania, watching his father race. Amazingly, he never got the chance to do any racing of his own from the driver’s seat like his dad and younger brother.
“As a kid growing up in elementary school in all of my papers I always said I wanted to be a race car driver. That skipped me by a little bit, but I worked for my dad and then Matt came along.”
Hirschman began spotting for his father when he was a teenager in 1994. His dad was racing for legendary Modified car owner, Mario Fiore. He eventually started to spot for as many people as possible, but his main gigs were with his dad and eventually with his younger brother, Matt, as well.
Those days taught him how to become the spotter that he is today and helped put him in the position he’s in this weekend with a chance to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title with Kyle Busch, the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship with Christopher Bell, and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship with Noah Gragson.
“My dad and my brother are about as cool, calm and collected as you can get, no matter what’s on the line. The Modified championships that we went into racing Steve Park in 1995 and 1996, it was one spot one way or the other. It doesn’t get any more nail-biting than that. That was as good of preparation for me to be in the position I’m in this week as any.”
When race fans hear the Hirschman name, they immediately think about his father’s five titles, as well as all of the championships and high-paying races that his brother “Big Money Matt” has won. Some might think that Tony’s accomplishments have been overshadowed because he never got the chance to achieve on-track success of his own, but within the Hirschman family that is far from the case.
“I talk to my dad every week after every race,” he explained. “There’s some weeks when he questions what we did or why we sped on pit lane and stuff like that. He’s in tune with what’s going on. I could tell he was really excited, not just for the wins last weekend, but I could tell he’s pretty pumped up for me to come down here with a shot to win and be a part of all three championships.”
Even though his dad is “pumped up,” Hirschman himself downplays his excitement just a bit because for Hirschman, who still lives in Northampton instead of down in the Charlotte area with the rest of the NASCAR community, his overall excitement comes from seeing good things happen for the entire family.
“I never really thought about it where I want the glory for myself. I get as much enjoyment when I was going with my dad and he was winning races and championships,” he said. “This year we’ve won a bunch in Cup and a bunch in Xfinity. Probably my favorite win all year long was Matt’s win at Chemung to be able to go help him out. My dad and mom were there and my two daughters were there, so to be able to do it as a family means a lot.”
But when pressed a little bit more, Hirschman does admit that he knows he has the chance to do something cool and unique this weekend. Joe Gibbs is heading to Homestead with a chance to win two championships. Kyle Busch is headed there with a chance to win two championships, one as a driver and one as an owner. Tony Hirschman has the chance to win all three championships, and they’re very good chances too.
“It would be cool to win all three. I know the odds are probably against that. In 2015 when we came in, I won the Truck championship with Erik Jones and won the Cup championship with Kyle. I’ve already done two out of the three in the same weekend. If I do my job and study up like I have been and the race plays out like it’s supposed to go, I don’t see any reason why we can’t. The odds are probably not in my favor to get three championships, but why not?”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Speed51.com