Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Hagan Qualifies for Pro Modified License
MARBLE FALLS, Texas -- Now I know many of you are thinking, “What? How can the reigning NHRA Funny Car champion, and former Pro Modified driver, need to be certified?”
In the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series, Matt Hagan is still considered, just a rookie.
After a grueling NHRA ‘Western Swing’ you would think that, barring personal appearances, drivers would be kicked back on a beach somewhere sipping on an adult beverage or two. Instead Hagan decided to take in the 21st Annual Lakefest on Lake Marble Falls, featuring the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series.
During his visit Hagan, who just signed a multi-year contract with Don Schumacher Racing, was offered the chance to give Randy Benson’s, Texas Bounty Hunter Pro Modified a try. Two successful license runs later, Hagan was given his credentials card.
“The Benson’s are just phenomenal folks to just put me in their boat,” said Hagan. “There are not too many offers and opportunities where people will do that for you. Everyone over here with the Lucas Oil Series has welcomed me and took me in like I was family. I had to do a lot of asking and get permission to do this. Don (Schumacher) and my sponsors were gracious enough to let me try something new.
“The first thing we did was capsule orientation. They throw you off(the boat), you hit the bottom and it’s pretty dark down there. You can’t see the divers, but you’re giving them the ‘thumbs up’ and checking your regulator to make sure you’re not breathing too fast. Once we got through that I felt really good about everything. I talked to some of the divers and they have their act together and made me feel confident.”
“The biggest thing to me, was not knowing what to expect. I know what to look for and feel for in a Funny Car going 300mph on asphalt, but I’ve never even been in a boat on the water. You just don’t know until you get in it. I was looking for someone on a Jet-Ski to back me up.”
“The hardest part was the rope procedure. Trying get the boat lined up right, hang on to the rope and get the capsule shut. It took me out of my comfort zone. You had to really pay attention. There are probably five or six switches you have to flip just to start it. There’s a lot of stuff going on. In my Funny Car there’s no dash, you just grab it, stab it and steer it.”
“We had good calm water and after I got through all the switches and procedures, it was a neat deal. As far as driving the boat, I felt real comfortable. It was an awesome experience and really gets your heart going.”
“We may work out something in the future over here, but I’ll still have to make sure it’s alright with everybody. I made friends with Bryan Sanders, a young upcoming guy with a good head on his shoulders. He offered me his boat, not the nitro ride, but a Pro Modified that he has sitting in his shop. They said they’d haul it somewhere and let me have some fun with it.”
“Talking to all the ‘fueler’ guys over here has been great. After watching it, it is pretty crazy. There are so many variables, as far as the water goes, then you add a nitro motor to that, it’s pretty wild. I’m just grateful to be over here hanging out and maybe get some cross promotion out of this. Hopefully it will be good for the Lucas Oil Series and NHRA. I’m just here having fun and taking advantage of the opportunity.”