Hirschman Riding the Wave – Wins ROC Tour Event at Shangri-la II; Coyle Ends Winless Streak

August 4, 2013

by Carol Houssock


(Tioga Center, NY)     Shangri-la II Motor Speedway had to postpone by one week their second of three Race of Champions Modified Tour events. That postponement kept some of the top cars away as a few of the competitors were on vacation. Matt Hirschman didn’t take a vacation, even though he said ‘wave riding’ was involved. The all-time leader in ROC race wins grabbed yet another with his methodical driving style. Billy Coyle ended a 5-year winless streak at the Concrete Castle and claimed the Street Stock feature, while Brandon Ameigh went 2-for-2 in the 4 Cylinder


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Matt Hirschman had to work for this one. But a little hard work never hurt anyone, especially a young man who’s on top of his game. The second generation driver from Northampton, PA prevailed in the 75-lap Race of Champions Modified Tour event, the 2nd of 3 this season at Shangri-la II Motor Speedway.

The top 4 finishers from the 3 heat races (Brian Defebo, Daren Scherer and Bobby Holmes) drew for starting positions 1-12. Hirschman wasn’t among them. Tommy Cloce drew the pole and Defebo started beside him. Based on his finishing position in qualifying, Hirschman started 15th.

Defebo got a good run off turn 2 and led the field into turn 3. Cloce had his hands full with Holmes, who took over 2nd early on. On the 19th lap Hirschman made an inside pass on Jim Storace and an outside pass on Austin Kochenash and he was up to 7th. The first caution came out for a tangle involving Matt Kurzejewski, Dean Rypkema and TJ Potrzebowski in turn 3. Top 4 on the restart were Defebo, Holmes, Scherer and Cloce, but 2 laps later the caution came out again when Storace slid into the infield on the back stretch.

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On the lap 22 restart Defebo led the way while Holmes lost 2nd to Scherer. Three laps later Hirschman, who was running 6th, got to the inside of Patrick Emerling’s #07 and the #69 of Cloce and he was up to 4th. While Defebo pulled away from those behind him, Hirschman wasn’t done. On lap 34 he took over 3rd with an inside move on Holmes; 3 laps later he passed Scherer on the outside for 2nd.


For the next 8 laps Defebo’s lead was shrinking until Hirschman had it down to less than a car length. On lap 46 Hirschman got inside the #53 and took over the top spot. Once in front it was never a runaway, as the Berwick, PA hotshoe stayed right with him.

The best battle on the track for was 4th, among Holmes, Mike Leaty and Kochenash. Kochenash got around Leaty and set his sights on Holmes. On lap 73 Kochenash had a run on Holmes and they made contact. Holmes spun into the pit wall, and the #22 sustained heavy damage to the front end. For his part in the incident, Kochenash restarted at the rear.

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Troubles continued for Storace, who tagged the turn 2 wall on the restart. When the final green/white/checkered took place Defebo had one more shot at Hirschman. It wasn’t to be, as the #60 pulled into a familiar place – victory lane in an ROC event. Defebo finished 2nd, ahead of Scherer, Leaty and Nick Pecko.

“We came up short in qualifying and thought that might prevent a win today,” Hirschman told the crowd. Despite a tough start to the day Hirschman remains focused on the big picture, which includes defending his ROC title. “It’s very impressive to be doing what we’re doing. I’m riding a wave right now but I know it won’t last forever,” he added. The competition, however, hopes it’s a tidal wave he encounters one of these days. He and the others running the ROC Tour will return to Shangri-la II in late September as part of the Fall Brawl, the 3rd ROC event on Shangri-la II’s 2013 schedule. Drivers should consider themselves warned: “I’ll be back for the Brawl to see if we can sweep the season here.”

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Back on July 13th teammates Bill Frisbie, Jr. and Billy Coyle celebrated their 1-2 finish in the Street Stock division. Sunday afternoon the same two pulled into victory lane, but this time it was Coyle’s #94 that scored the win. Frisbie’s win came in his first time out in the car, while Coyle had waited over 5 years for his first Shangri-la II win.

Frisbie and Coyle sat on the front row for the start of the 25-lap feature, and Frisbie led the way. The first caution, with 4 laps complete, was costly for title contender Charlie Sharpsteen. His #34 lost a wheel assembly when he got together with Brad Knapp. Following the lap 5 restart Gary Noe, Chris Zacharias and Jason Duke went 3-wide down the front stretch for 3rd, a position Zacharias claimed. Lap after lap Zacharias chased Coyle around the 1/2-mile oval, searching for an opportunity to take over 2nd. He got around him on the outside with 4 laps to go.

The yellow came out with 2 laps to go for a spin involving Knapp, Bob Ripley and Tom Sunderland. The restart was a game-changer for the top 2 cars. Frisbie and Zacharias were side by side through turns 1 and 2. Zacharias got loose coming off 2, spun into Frisbie and then tagged the back stretch wall and brought out the red flag. Zacharias was done and Frisbie had cosmetic damage to the right front. During the red Coyle pulled up alongside Frisbie and did a visual of his damage.

Coyle beat Frisbie to turn 1 and the race had a new leader. He held on for the win, his first at Shangri-la II after running in both the Street Stock and Late Model divisions on a fairly regular basis. “During that red I pulled up beside him and saw the damage,” Coyle said from victory lane. “I knew I could pass him and I did.” Ironically, Coyle and his brother Scott built the car Frisbie is piloting.

Jason Duke went on to finish 3rd, with Jeff Goodwin and Noe rounding out the top 5. Noe and Duke won their respective heats.  

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Nick Morich and Jeremiah Clonch brought the 4 Cylinder field to the green for their 10-lap feature. Brandon Ameigh swept around both of them at the drop of the green, just as he had done earlier in his heat race. Once in front he checked out and built up a comfortable advantage over Gene Purvis. When Ameigh sailed off turn 4 with 9 laps completed he saw the white flag. Everyone else saw a ton of white smoke pouring from his car over the final lap. Ameigh’s car coasted in to victory lane. Purvis finished 2nd, followed by Nick Morich, Jeremiah Clonch and Alan Blackwell. Ameigh and Purvis won the 2 heats.

Racing returns this Saturday for the Night of Thunder featuring the Sportsman Modifieds, Pudgies Pizza Street Stocks and the 4 Cylinders. Pit gates open at 4:30, with grandstand gates open and practice getting underway at 5:30. The first race hits the track at 7:00. Fans in attendance on Sunday are reminded to bring their wristband for a $2 discount on admission this Saturday.

ASA and Shangri-La II Motor Speedway - We Build Champions!!!



ROC Sunoco Modifieds (75 Laps)   MATT HIRSCHMAN, Brian Defebo, Daren Scherer, Mike Leaty, Nick Pecko, Matt Kurzejewski, Tommy Cloce, Austin Kochenash, Doug Reaume, Dean Rypkema, Billy Putney, TJ Potrzebowski, Brandon Oltra, Bobby Holmes, Patrick Emerling, Jim Storace, Dave Korolewski, Ken Canestrari, Paul Hartwig, Jr., Matt Clemens, Nick Straw (DNS)

Heats: Defebo, Scherer, Holmes

Pudgies Pizza Street Stocks (25 Laps)   BILLY COYLE, Bill Frisbie, Jr., Jason Duke, Jeff Goodwin, Gary Noe, Bob Ripley, Jeff Frisbie, Tom Sunderland, Chris Zacharias, Brad Knapp, Hank Buchanan, Charlie Sharpsteen

Heats: Noe, Duke

4 Cylinders (10 Laps)   BRANDON AMEIGH, Gene Purvis, Nick Morich, Jeremiah Clonch, Alan Blackwell, Devon Bailey, Klem Underwood, Jeff Noe (DNS)

Heats: Purvis, Ameigh