Matt Hagan is too young to have a bucket list. However, when he does begin compiling one, licensing in a drag boat won’t be an item.
Hagan procured his Lucas Oil Drag Boat Association Pro Mod license during the LakeFest Dragboat Races in Marble Falls, Texas this past weekend.
“It was an awesome experience and the people were really great,” said Hagan, the excitement of the adventure clearly in his voice. “Just like drag racing on land is a big family, the drag boat community is the same. There are a lot of good people involved in it. Driving a drag boat took me out of my comfort zone. I was extra careful to pay attention to my instruction, it was a neat deal.”
And, according to Hagan, the drag boat experience was a challenging one.
“I had shift lights going on … all kinds of things happening,” Hagan explained, his voice still twinging with excitement. “There was a lot of toggle switches in front of me, something I’m definitely not used to. It was a great experience … the boat … it just hopped up out of the water. It went left and right. It was a totally different feel than asphalt.
“I never got scared but I definitely had my adrenaline going. It’s one of those deals where you want to pay extra attention and not hurt anyone’s stuff. You want to make sure he can hop in it and go have fun too.”
Hagan gave himself a passing grade for the weekend and admits he’d like another crack at piloting a boat in the future.
“I think I did a pretty good job for someone who sat in the boat only a handle of times,” Hagan said.
Hagan never competed in final eliminations due to a few reasons, the biggest of which was team owner Randy Benson was second in points with a legit chance to challenge for the top spot. Plus, being a novice driver and having choppy waters, didn’t make for ideal conditions.
“I got my license on Friday and we had every intention of racing the deal,” explained Hagan. “What had happened after we made the deal was [Randy] ended up winning the race before and it put him in second place in points. There were a few races left and I was never there to mess up anybody’s championship hopes. I know if I was second in Funny Car, you couldn’t pry me out of it.”
Hagan made it clear to Benson he wanted to step out of the way and let him chase the title; and if time permitted on Sunday, he’d be glad to make some exhibition passes.
Sunday dawned with windy conditions and choppy waters, confirming Hagan had made the right decision.
Hagan pointed out other drag boat team owners stepped to the plate in order to keep their distinguished guest in competition.
“I had four other team owners offer up their boats for me to drive, and that was pretty neat,” said Hagan. “We’re working on some deals maybe somewhere down the road.”
For now, Hagan gladly puts the Marble Falls event on his resume.
“This was a great career experience,” said Hagan. “I’m grateful to the Bensons for providing this opportunity. Just letting me go out there and do this is a huge trust deal. When a guy is racing for a championship and lets you drive his ride, (it) says a lot.”
The trust shown by Randy Benson and his team in a drag racing driver, who by his own admission had never been in a row boat, says a lot too.
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