Since 1989 the world of Sprint Car racing has been under a storm warning; Randy “The Hurricane” Hannagan has definitely made his mark on this sport and after almost 25-Years behind the wheel of a sprint car he is still making waves.
Like many racers, Hannagan inherited his passion from racing from his parents, growing up just a few miles from San Jose (CA) Speedway, the Hannagan crew spent many summer weekends in the grandstands, “As a kid you get heroes and those racers became my heroes and so that is what I wanted to be like” explained Hannagan. Randy was still just a young fan when he took his first laps, “In 1982 we bought a go-kart and that escalated all the way up into Micro-Midgets in 1987 and then in 1989 we started racing sprint cars”.
That very next season Hannagan had already scored a feature win against some of the stiffest competition in the Nation. Through the 90’s California was the king of open wheel. There was a race nearly every night of the week and cars were plentiful. Just making the main was an accomplishment; but Hannagan was quickly proving even at a young age that he wanted to do more than just compete, he wanted to dominate. In 1993 Randy captured both the 360ci and 410ci points titles at San Jose Speedway and set his goals higher yet.
By the end of 2000 Hannagan was ready to take on the World…of Outlaws that is. With a series travel schedule centered around the Midwest Randy decided to make the move from West Coast to Midwest and settled down in Pittsboro, Indiana.
The career change and move was one that Hannigan certainly doesn’t regret, “I fell in love with where I am at in Indiana!” exclaimed Randy, “California taught me how to drive a Sprint Car, it is fast cowboy-up racing, but once you leave California you learn how to race. You learn how to do things in California that you don’t do anyplace else and visa-versa. I have the best of both worlds; I came from California and now I am in the Midwest and I can kinda do both.”
As for the atmosphere, Hannagan misses the California sprint heyday, but feels right at home dabbling on the dry slick Midwestern tracks and meeting the fans that have adopted him as a neighbor, “When it comes to Midwest racing fans you could put a show on at Eldora in December and you would have fans, even if there was snow on the ground we would be here and there would be fans in the stands and for that I am grateful!”
There is no doubt that Hannagan has had a stellar career thus far and a host of accomplishments to prove it, but for Randy racing is about much more than just the victories, “I’ve had a lot of great memories and each night I am able to take the checkered and go home from the racetrack is an accomplishment for me. I love to race and I try to do the best that I can and the accolades are part of what comes along with racing”.
Although Hannagan has memories the stretch for miles, one that will forever be in his bank was his first ever Sprint Car feature win, it was in 1990 at San Jose Speedway, and he can still recall everything in detail, “It just stands out” commented Hannagan before elaborating, “It was special because my whole family was there. My brother wasn’t paralyzed at the time and we all stood on the front stretch and got our picture taken together. That was priceless!”
Hannagan knows all too well how quickly life can change and how to capture every moment, “I went through some family tragedies where I lost my mom, my dad, and my brother/biggest fan within 18-months.” Recalled Randy, “It put things in perspective. I thought I had the world by the tail and when that happened I realized the world had me. After that I decided to pull back on my schedule and although I miss the road at times there are other times that I don’t care to go back”.
Although Hannagan’s schedule still contains a jaw dropping number of events, it is definitely less than it had been in the past, and with a wife and young son at home for the school year, Hannagan has no problems running a limited schedule.
Of his 7-year-old son; Mason, Hannagan said with a chuckle, “He has his own sense of how I should race. He is very into the sport and he will tell me what I do wrong before anyone else will. He is my biggest fan and my biggest critic!”
“Spending time with my wife [Angela] and my little guy is what makes life worthwhile for me, but I’ve always raced. That is what I know, it is what I do and I just hope to do the best job that I can” exclaimed Hannagan, “I know where I am in my life and with my family that my career is winding down and I am just trying to win as many races as I can before I hang up the helmet for the final time!”.
Although the “Hurricane” is getting more comfortable taking on the role of racing veteran, he is certainly not going to be weakening anytime soon. With the 2013 season already underway, Hannagan finds himself piloting the Amanti Racing no.66 J&J Chassis on the World of Outlaws tour.
After taking a hiatus from the series for a few years and subsequently capturing back-to-back NRA Sprint Invaders titles (2011 & 2012), Hannagan is ready to up his 410 schedule which will include many stops on the WoO tour, but for fans of the no.22H machine there is nothing to fear as Hannagan will still be racing for Dennis Yoakam in a multitude of 360 events.
With two NRA championships to their credit the no.22H team has been on a hot streak and although 2013 will see Hannagan steering clear of any points races, there is no doubt that the team has chemistry, “I have had a lot of fun racing for Dennis Yoakam, he has made this fun and supplied me with a good car and motor. Kent Karhoff is my crew chief and my best friend. He is right there with me all of the time and he gives me that vote of confidence that lets me know that I can drive still. There are times when I will want to go and change stuff and he will tell me to just drive it. We work well together and click like salt & pepper”.
As for his new ride at Amanti Racing, the possibilities are endless, the excitement palpable, and it sure looks like a strong storm surge is on the horizon for 2013.