2007 World of Outlaws Season Review: Randy Hannagan
Randy Hannagan has been racing sprint cars for well over a decade and has been part of some of the most competitive seasons in sprint car racing both regionally on the West Coast when he was cutting his teeth in the sport, as well as nationally with the World of Outlaws, and he ranks the 2007 World of Outlaws as the toughest campaign he has ever been a part of.
The 1995 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year earned 11 Top-10 finishes and was 15th in championship points after the demanding 78-race campaign was completed. It was the fifth time in his career he finished 15th or better in points with the series.
"By far this has was the most competitive season with the World of Outlaws since I have been doing it," said Hannagan, driver of the Penthouse Magazine Maxim. "I've been doing it since 1995 on and off. I have always followed sprint car racing even before I started in it and it has been the most competitive season ever. Just to be a part of it and to be able to run with this group of people was an honor."
Hannagan led several laps this season at Knoxville Raceway in the opener of the "SuperClean Summer of Money" on ESPN2 after winning the Crane Cams Dash to earn the pole position. He would finish second in the event to earn his best finish of the season. He also earned Top-Five finishes at Red River Valley Speedway in North Dakota where he finished fourth with the cameras from ESPN2 rolling again, and he was fifth at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas in the series first visit to the 3/8-mile since 2002.
"Any time you run in the Top-10 with the World of Outlaws is worth it," he said of all the travel and hard work involved in competing with the series. "We just try to do the best we can. This is how we make our living and this is what we do. Some nights are better than others. Any bad night of sprint car racing is better than any good day at a regular job."
Making the long days and nights on the road more manageable was the fact that Hannagan was accompanied all season by his fiancee Angie and their son Mason. They traveled to most of the races in their motorhome and the veteran driver always looked forward to returning to see them after a hard night of racing.
"If they weren't able to be out here with me, I don't think I would do it," said Hannagan. "Having them out here is definitely an emotional upkeep for me. There are nights when you get out of the race car and are so disgusted or mad or upset, and having them there helps. There are times when they are not there and I miss them immensely."
Again in 2007, Hannagan had Chris Stillwell and Steve Moulton as crew members. The pair has been with the veteran driver for a number of seasons and they put in countless hours making sure he had a fast and safe car each time he hits the track. They opened the season with a win during the annual Winternationals at East Bay Raceway in Florida.
"Chris (Stillwell) and Steve (Moulton) work very hard," Hannagan noted. "Any crew person on a World of Outlaws team works hard. That is a testament. It's neat when you go to places like Charlotte and go in the shops and you know some of the guys, because they used to work in sprint car racing. It's a good testament to how their work ethics are. It makes you proud to know that you helped train them and now you can see them progress in their lines of work."
With nearly 30 cars starting the 2007 season full-time with the World of Outlaws and 21 completing the entire season, Hannagan was very pleased with what he and his team accomplished, including two quick time honors in time trials, one at his home track Calistoga Speedway in California and the other at Skagit Speedway in Washington. Hannagan credits his strong qualifying runs to his crew and their endless dedication to the team.
"My guys work their butts off," he said. "They drive up and down the road and it's just the two of them. If we had the sponsorship to have more of them I would. They do me good and I am really proud of what they have done and accomplished this year. I am proud of the team we have."
Hannagan wrapped up the 2007 season by winning the finale of the 14th annual Trophy Cup at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California, where the World of Outlaws competed three times this season and also will race three times in 2008. Following his final winged sprint car race of the season, the California native who now calls Indiana home remained in the Golden State for Thanksgiving and competed in the non-wing sprint car portion of the famed Turkey Nite Grand Prix on the asphalt at Irwindale Speedway. After visiting some family and friends, he will return to the Hoosier state to begin preparing for 2008.
"There won't be too much time to relax," Hannagan stated. "I raced a couple of times in California and now we'll be off for about a month and we will go to the Chili Bowl."