50 Greatest Modified Drivers – Tony Hirschman
“Quiet but Aggressive”
Tony Hirschman, a mainstay on the NASCAR Modified Tour, notched 6 of his 35 career Modified Tour wins at Stafford, including the 2005 NAPA Spring Sizzler®, and was considered to be one of the Fifty Greatest Modified Drivers of All-time as voted by the public. Hirschman’s 35 career Modified Tour victories currently ranks him in 4th place on the All-Time Tour winners list.
Hirshman got his start in racing during 1974 in the Late Model division at Mahoning Valley Speedway in Pennsylvania. His first feature win came in only his third race in competition. During his formative years, he broadened his experiences by branching out to tracks at Dorney Park and Evergreen, also in Pennsylvania. Throughout the 1970s, Hirshman began to make a name for himself and in 1979 won the track Championship at Evergreen. The quiet but aggressive driver moved up to the open wheel Modifieds at Wall Stadium in Belmar, New Jersey during 1980 and in that first year on the tough oval recorded his first Modified win.
It was during the 1980s that he teamed up with New York State car owner Tony Vecchio and became a consistent winner. In fact, a bounty was placed on him at Tioga (formally Shangri-La) Speedway where he won seven in a row. In addition to the Tioga wins, Hirshman had also won at Oswego, plus had numerous top finishes in the annual Race of Champions at Pocono.
When Hirschman teamed up with the legendary Len Boehler from 1995-1998, the chemistry was perfect as they won back-to-back championships in ’95 and ’96. Hirshman and Vecchio still remained friends and from time to time teamed up for Busch Grand National events where, although winless, they had impressive runs with top finishes. Following his success with Boehler, Hirschman teamed with car owners Bob & Tom Kehley from 2001-2007 and together they won 15 races and 2 more Modified Tour championships. Hirschman also won a championship driving for Gary Cretty in 1999. Hirschman’s ability is without question and now so is his recognition as he joins the Fifty Greatest Modified Drivers of All-Time list as voted by the public, part of the Stafford Salutes NASCAR at 50 program.
By: Phil Smith