Day Motor Sports Driver Profile: R.C. Hagan back on top in Limited Modified

GLENMORA, Louisiana — In the past four of five years, Factory Stock has dominated the headlines within Louisiana’s talent-rich short track scene. Yet while the Ark-La-Tex region may be home to the south’s best short track stock car pilots, there are big-time skills within the open-wheel ranks, as well. 

For 26-year-old Limited Modified veteran R.C. Hagan, the 2023 season has brought back that spring in his step. After a tough two-year struggle, he’s back up to speed. Hagan has two wins, six top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 16 starts, and credits a number of factors responsible for his team’s rebound. 

“It has been a really good year,” he said. “We had two really good years in 2019 and 2020, then we slipped into a two-year drought in 2021 and again last season. It seemed like nothing would go our way, we just couldn’t catch a break. 

“This year, I just told my family that I wanted to go back to the basics. We bought the car we’re in now last year and ran it about half a season. So starting out this year, we went back to what we knew worked for us in the past. And man, it’s been great. The draw has been kind to us, I’m really enjoying this year.”

Hagan’s race schedule was affected this year when a track close to his hometown closed its gates. 

“It was a bummer for us to see Thunder Valley close down, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s only about 10 minutes from our shop. It was really nice, because I work near Many, so I was right there to go run at Sabine on Friday nights, then come home, and be right here to run Thunder Valley on Saturday nights.

“So we’ve been running in Greenwood (Boothill) a little bit more this year; it’s just hard to go every weekend with the price of everything and how much I’ve been working lately. I’m a lineman for SWEPCO, so the storms that hit Longview and Shreveport meant lots of overtime.”  

Now in his 10th year of Limited Modified competition, Hagan paid his dues in a steady progression. 

“We started out in the Rookie Limited class at Leesville when they ran that deal,” he explained. “Once we got that figured out, we stepped up to regular Limiteds and continue to learn in them to this day. I think in 10 years of it now we’re gaining ground, but so are lots of other well-funded race teams.” 

Along the path, there have been numerous highlights, some even evoking emotions for the right reason. 

“We won two points championships in a row at Thunder Valley, so I’m very proud to have earn those. As far as an individual career highlight, we won the Jackie Thacker Memorial a few years ago. It was kind of crazy, one of my really good friends who liked to come to the races with us died of cancer. 

“We did a wrap on the car for him that year for Ewing Sarcoma Awareness, and I invited his family to come down for that race. I told them this race was for him, and we were able to win that deal. That was no doubt the most memorable win of my career, one that I’ll never forget.” 

Hagan’s career nearly came to an abrupt halt not too long ago. It was a scary time for the young racer. 

“I really didn’t expect to still be racing to this day, honestly,” he said with great candor. “I got in a bad accident on a water slide, and broke my neck. I shattered my C2 vertebrae. I had to have extensive surgery and still have some hardware left from that. So I didn’t think I was ever going to race again. 

“That was a pretty depressing time for me. This was about all I ever knew, having grown up around racing my whole life. I didn’t play sports or anything, I was just into racing. To think that would be taken away from me was earth-shattering. The fact I can race now makes me appreciate it even more.” 

 As we mentioned earlier, the big guns inside this region aren’t confined to the Factory Stock pit area.

“The amount of talent we have in this class now is unreal,” Hagan explained. “Today, you can go to any track, from central Louisiana north, and the competition is always stiff. A lot of people will say, well, you only have 20 cars. What they don’t realize is that 18 of them can win the feature that night. 

“It makes it more rewarding though, because when you do win one, you’ve really had to earn it. My Dad always preached to me that if you wanted to be the best, you had to race against the best. There are a lot of us who’ll travel off to Ark-La-Tex, and this year, we didn’t make the show. It’s very tough.”    

When Hagan puts on his safety suit and gets ready to race, he straps in to an older yet capable machine.

“I’m not 100 percent sure of the exact year, but I believe we have a 2012 Express chassis here,” Hagan said. “It was Charley Morrow’s car, and it’s had all the updates from Shane Hebert. It’s a great car, and is plenty fast when we get it dialed in to my driving style. I was in a Larry Shaw car my first nine years.

“As for horsepower, we run a motor from R&R Race Engines. We had a minor issue with our own engine, and I need to thank Jamie Crayon for loaning me one when I needed some help. So this has been kind of a piece-meal deal with an older car and a borrowed engine, but it’s all working out for us.” 

Along with his wealth of knowledge and top-notch ride, Hagan also has good people in his corner. 

“I need to thank our great sponsors, including Sideline Sports and Screenings; Hagan Farms, Club 20 Suspension, Express Racecars, D&K Forestry, G2 Services, and The Crayon Family. I also want to thank my girlfriend and pit crew, Abby Grace. I couldn’t do this without all of their support. 

“I have a lot of family members and friends who support this team. Many of them can’t always make it out to the tracks, so I’ll thank RaceON for the great coverage of Louisiana tracks. My family loves being able to see our races. I feel they’ve really done a lot to grow our sport these last few years.” 

As this year’s sizzling summer heat continues to scorch, Hagan knows what he wants to accomplish.

“We started this year off pretty strong, and I really wanted to run for USRA National points,” he added. “That was our goal, but my work schedule has put a huge damper on that. I’m not saying we’re done, because I think they only use your best 16 finishes. Now, we’ll just race for wins whenever we get time.

“That first win on opening night at Sabine this year just set a great tone. It boosts team morale, and gets thing rolling with a positive vibe. It’s made racing fun for us again this year. I think as long as you have a decent quality car that will stay together for you and can enjoy time with family, this sport is a blast.”

By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer
Photo by Abby Grace