Just How Good Was Doug Hoffman?
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[dropcap1]D[/dropcap1]o you want my opinion? Not coming from a Doug Hoffman fan, but rather my honest opinion? Doug Hoffman was GREAT, AWESOME, IMPRESSIVE, and about 20 more similar synonyms. In fact, I truly believe Doug was vastly underrated as impossible as that may seem. His records are tremendous and his focus was intense and they don’t make many like him anymore, not many at all.
When you see Allentown, Pennsylvania you ONLY think of one person if you are part of the dirt racing world. D-O-U-G H-O-F-F-M-A-N! A man synonymous with race tracks such as Nazareth, Bridgeport, Flemington, and East Windsor (notice that only one of them remain today). Doug emphatically made a visit to Victory Lane 482 different times in his storied career. 482 times!!!
Now, I understand the naysayers will point out Brett Hearn’s 800 plus or Billy Pauch’s 700 plus wins and that’s fine. Let’s keep in mind that both these phenomenal racers got their feet wet several years before Hoffman and have also been adding to their win totals the past 8 seasons as to where Doug hadn’t raced. What I’m trying to say is, is that Doug Hoffman has every right to be mentioned in the same sentence as these two icons.
Let’s look at the stats: Wins at 38 different race tracks! Two track in Texas as well as Florida. Three in Canada! Bullrings like Five Mile Point and Penn Can to monsters like Syracuse and Nazareth National. Neutral locations such as Charlotte, Port Royal, Hagerstown, and Williams Grove to enemy territories where the outsider never wins like Lebanon Valley, Weedsport, Fonda, Orange County, and Canandaigua. His versatility was tested on the pavement ovals such as Thompson, Flemington, Evergreen, Mahoning, and Dorney Park. Don’t forget about the countless wins and championships at his home stomping grounds of East Windsor, Bridgeport, and Big Diamond.
What about wins? Try this on for size – The Freedom 76er, The Coal Cracker, Hagerstown’s Octoberfest, The Delaware State Championships, Eastern States 200, Fonda 200 (three times), Lebanon Valley 200 (twice), Flemington 200 both in a D/A modified as well as an asphalt Tour-Type Modified, Bridgeport 200, Nazareth 200, and of course the ULTIMATE victory Syracuse during Super Dirt Week. Back to back 40 win seasons in 1983 and 1984: The man won two 100-lappers in one day at two different tracks – Nazareth National and Penn National with a victory the very night before at Bridgeport. In 1994 Doug raced to a 100-lap win at East Windsor on Friday night, and then drove to the winner’s circle two days later at Flemington in an asphalt modified 100-lapper. Two different tracks in two totally different type of cars…all in one weekend!
Doug Hoffman could win anytime, anywhere, on any surface. Not many people realize this, but Doug is the ONLY driver to win a Mr. DIRT Championship not racing at a New York based track. The series is designed to focus on NY tracks ultimately favoring NY drivers as they race on their home turfs. Although Brett Hearn is from New Jersey, he’s always raced in New York on a weekly basis thus making him a “NY” driver. Doug’s also the ONLY driver to have ever won a Mr. DIRT Title (1991) along with a NASCAR Regional Championship (2004).
If you think about it, Doug Hoffman was the last man to arrive to the modified scene in our area. Guys like Hearn, Horton, Cozze, Pauch, and Brightbill were already established race car drivers and they each had their own fan base. When Doug entered the dirt modified world people didn’t know who the hell he was and where he really came from…they just knew that some guy from Pennsylvania was sure winning a lot. I think he was always viewed as the ‘villain’ when it came to PA and NJ tracks. I believe Doug was more appreciated and respected at the NY tracks…I could be wrong but that’s the way it seemed to me.
I guess the ‘Winter Blues’ have me thinking about some of the good ‘ol days. But not to get too sentimental and melancholy because there’s still a great season around the corner at Bridgeport Speedway which ironically opens up with the ‘60over Special – Doug Hoffman Memorial’ on Saturday, March 28!
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