Funny Car Champ Matt Hagan's New Lease on Life
Two time NHRA Funny Car champion Matt Hagan has had a lot to deal with this year. In early January of this year Matt's younger brother Kyle died unexpectedly in his sleep. In an interview with Auto Week Matt opened up about the loss of his brother and continuing with his career afterward. “It’s very unfortunate, very tragic, very sad. He was 32 years old, and you ask yourself why. There’s no real reason. Stuff just happens. You have to deal with it, whether you’re angry or you’re hurt. That’s the hand you’re dealt,” Hagan said. “Now I look at things a little different. Make every day count because you don’t know when it is your last. You just got to look forward and make sure every day has a purpose,” he said.
Ryan was laid to rest on Matt's 500-acre Angus cattle farm in southwest Virginia. Hagan has a history of handling tough situations, especially when it comes to family matters. Matt was the first in his family to race, and also a first-generation farmer. “I went and bought some land and put a house on it. And it’s quite a bit of acreage. I’m like, ‘I’m not mowing this every day. So let’s build a few fences and put some cows out here,’” Hagan said. “The next thing you know, you’re doing it. And if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it full-scale. If I’m going to buy tractors, let’s buy some big tractors. If I’m going to get some cows, let’s get a lot of cows. If you have an addictive personality, you do everything you do wholeheartedly. That’s similar to racing. It’s hard to turn it on and turn it off."
The balance between the hard work of a farm and the high speed of the track has made Matt a very interesting and unique racer. Losing his brother made Matt appreciate the work-life balance even more. “You crawl in the race car and you think, ‘Man, I should be home with my family,’” Hagan said, salving any guilt by saying: “You’ve got to still live. You’ve got to be you. And you’ve got to enjoy life every second that you get.”
After winning his first two races this season, Matt is still poised to continue his winning streak and possibly take the NHRA Funny Car championship again. Although we wish Matt the best and admire him for his perseverance and attitude toward life, his next on-track win will have to wait. He was eliminated in Round One of the Spring Nationals by his teammate Jack Beckman but will be in the hunt for a win at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at Charlotte Motor Speedway.