ALVIN, Texas — Audio and story by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Team Hogan Racing photo —
For 15-year-old young gun Christopher Hogan, the 2015 season will be one of trial, error, success and failure.
It will also be, in his own words, “a whole lotta fun.”
Hogan will work double duty as a NASCAR Home Tracks driver during the course of the year, running both a NASCAR Pro Truck and an IMCA-style modified and splitting time between NASCAR-sanctioned Houston Motorsports Park and non-sanctioned Central Texas Speedway over the course of his campaign in 2015.
It’s a double duty slate that the young shoe is extremely excited about heading into the start of his season.
“I’m super pumped about it,” Hogan said in a recent interview with Race Chaser Online. “I’ll have a full plate on my hands, but it’s going to be enjoyable and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Hogan ran one Pro Truck race to close the 2014 season at HMP and recently tested his modified in preparation for the 2015 season as well, saying that the leap came with its challenges after two seasons of Legends Car competition.
“It was a big change. I had to get used to the size of the bigger cars and also the difference in power, but especially with the modified,” Hogan explained. “The mod has a lot more power than the Legend or the truck, for that matter. I just have to get used to the different ways to drive it; the Legend [had] a smaller wheelbase so it was harder to control than the modified or the truck.”
Coming off a 2014 season that saw Hogan take both rookie of the year honors and the track championship in the Legends Car Pro division at HMP (on the strength of three overall wins, seven top fives and eight top tens in ten starts), the Alvin, Texas driver is ready to look ahead, but also pleased with the results he achieved last season.
“We accomplished a lot of goals that we set out to [in 2014],” Hogan said. “I ended up getting Pro champion at Houston Motorsports Park last year, [as well as] Pro Rookie of the Year, and I’m really proud of that. We just didn’t travel that much because of funding and moving and all.”
The young racer circles the dollar signs as an issue plaguing a lot of small teams in the current climate — not just his own — and also says he is disappointed that he hasn’t been able to showcase his talents much outside of his home area just yet.
“I think we went out of town to race one time last year,” Hogan recalls. “I wish we could have [done that] more but it was just money problems and not having enough sponsorship.”
Hogan circles sponsorship as a key issue that plagued the team and kept them from being able to broaden their horizons in 2014.
“It [was and is] pretty tough,” the Texan said of trying to get one’s name into the present racing landscape. “I mean, if you want to travel with the car and take it other places [besides] your home track to get noticed [by people], you just have to have sponsorship to get where you want to go now. So last season was really hard on us because we didn’t have many sponsors and therefore, couldn’t get out to many other places beyond home.”
“We did get to go up to Charlotte once, though – we got sponsored to go up there in the Legends car and that’s the same person that’s sponsoring us in the truck this year so we’re looking forward to this season and hopefully adding to our list of supporters in the truck and modified.”
His outing at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Summer Shootout Series in July 2014 did not yield the numerical results that Hogan had hoped, but it did allow him a swan song outside of Houston in the class he has dominated the last two years — winning the HMP track and Texas state titles in 2013 in the Legends Young Lions class and finishing 10th in U.S. Legends Car International (USLCI) Young Lions National Points that year.
Now, the young racer hopes to give back to the USLCI circle in 2015 — assisting several local Bandolero and Legend teams with setup and engineering help in addition to his own racing.
“Me and my dad (sic) have always enjoyed working on the smaller cars, like Bandos and Legends, together,” Hogan explained. “I started setting up Bandoleros in 2010 because I wasn’t content with just driving the car. I wanted to understand how the all the pieces fit together and work. I wanted to understand the geometry and setup so that it would help me as a driver.”
“This winter, we had a few friends that needed some help with setup and everything on their cars [this year],” Hogan added. “So, we decided to try and help them out [for] this year and in return [they’re] helping us out with a little bit of sponsorship for the truck — really that’s a chunk of what’s helped us to be able to run the truck this season.”
In running the Truck full-time at HMP in 2015, Hogan has a new list of goals to check off and looks to claim his second-straight track title, just in a different division this time around.
“This year, I would love to get a track championship at Houston in the truck – that would be a great deal and I know it would mean a lot to the car owner,” Hogan smiled. “Running the modified [at CTS], we’re not really running for points but I think it would be awesome if I could get rookie of the year; I think that’s definitely reachable.”
The modified also allows the teenager to focus on his broader mindset regarding his racing career — having fun along the way instead of stressing over a points sheet. He also feels it will allow him to take a few more risks in pursuit of a win over the course of the year as well.
“[Not running for points] allows me to be able to race [the modified] more freely and just have more fun with it, instead of racing for points like I’ll be doing in the truck. Typically, we tell ourselves at the beginning of the year, ‘Hey, let’s just go out there, have fun, not try to [points-race] – because then we get too serious about it – and just roll [with the punches].”
But while the fun aspect is a big part of what he does, Hogan also knows he must carry a certain level of focus and determination if he wants to reach his ultimate goal on the racing ladder.
“Eventually – maybe at the end of the year this year – I’d like to maybe get out to Pensacola and either race the truck or the modified out there, but in the end I’d love to get a shot to race in NASCAR.”
“I think ultimately, that’s every driver my age’s dream – I’m just working on it one step at a time and seeing how high I can climb.”
Hogan’s sponsors for the 2015 season include HMS Tire Prep and Conditioners, Jett Jones Energy and Jamie Call Racing.
Houston Motorsports Park is scheduled to open its 2015 points season with a full slate of NASCAR-sanctioned racing on April 18, while Central Texas Speedway kicks off their track schedule on Saturday, March 28 with the NAPA Know How Challenge.
Listen in to a cut of Race Chaser Online’s exclusive interview with Hogan by clicking on the player below: