Drag Illustrated Issue 171, September / October 2021 - Page 75
Richard , you saw those situations with the Lagana family from afar , certainly not knowing you would race together down the road . But what stood out with what they were trying to accomplish ?
HOGAN : It just reminded me of some of the situations I ’ ve been in over the years when I was younger with the match races , doing whatever it took to generate money . I worked for a lot of teams that were real limited budgets over the years and then I also worked for someone who had the best funding , so I ’ ve seen both sides of it . There was just so much passion there for racing . If Bobby had a place to live at the racetrack , he probably would have .
By the time the Laganas joined Torrence Racing in 2013 , they had firmly established themselves in the sport , predominantly as guys who had an unwavering desire to race , tune and be around the sport as much as possible . Dom was campaigning the family ’ s popular “ Nitro Ninja ” dragster , both had gone well over 300 mph and each seemed to be having the time of their lives .
But things changed almost overnight . While Torrence wasn ’ t an instant sensation , it didn ’ t take too long before the team was clicking and reaching heights nobody expected or thought possible .
It was a whole new world for everyone involved – Bobby , Dom , and Hogan – but a sense of togetherness reigned supreme .
The way this team works together is something special . What stands out to you about the way this team just flows together seemingly so perfectly ?
BOBBY : Hoagie ’ s an instinctual type of tuner . So he ’ s the kind of guy that likes to make last-minute calls and he needs to have all the confidence that everything is done right . When the guys know that they can approach him and say , “ Hey , this looks different ,” or , “ This is going on ,” and their opinion matters , that really , just for the whole team , that changes your reason for being there .
Now , when the car goes and makes a good run , your celebration is not just for the team , it ’ s also for the job that you did . You want everyone to buy into the idea of the whole team is one . There ’ s not just an individual here that does a better job than anybody else . Each job is so important , and if everybody does everything perfectly , but one guy doesn ’ t , then nothing matters anymore . That ’ s the hardest thing to teach to people , is how much do you care . There ’ s a deep respect for each person ’ s life , not just in what they do on the race car .
HOGAN : I show up at the racetrack , do whatever I do , and then go home , and it couldn ’ t be any better . There ’ s no ego over here . I don ’ t care if it ’ s the tuner or whatever it is , there ’ s no competition between us to make the calls or the decisions . If you get to where you ’ re just a
September / October 2021
“ HOAGIE HAS THE APPROACH THAT MY BROTHER AND I HAD WITH OUR DAD . BEFORE YOU EVEN LOOK AT THE MOTOR , WHAT DOES THE BEARING SAY ? WHAT DO THE PISTONS LOOK LIKE ? WHAT DO THE SPARK PLUGS LOOK LIKE ? THE CAR IS GOING TO TALK TO YOU . “
guy in charge , and that ’ s the way it is , that ’ s not good . You work with everybody and you ’ ve got to challenge each other .
There are guys on this team certainly capable of tuning for another team or enough talent to work into a role like that . But this team has stayed intact for several years , which is a huge rarity in this sport . How has that happened ?
DOM : Everybody out here , they put the hours in , the blood , sweat , and tears , and everybody works hard . But the family atmosphere that we grew up in and brought to these teams , and the family atmosphere that Billy , Steve and Kay allow this team to be run as I truly think is a vital part of our success and all the guys gel . When we were growing up , even seven , eight years ago , when the Ninja would come out , I loved doing bottom end . I didn ’ t care . I ’ d do bottom end , I ’ d strip blowers , build motors , do heads , whatever . I ’ d clean oil pans – all stuff that needed to be done and all that stuff resulted in the car running better . There were no job titles in our team and that ’ s kind of how we are here .
Every guy on this team is pretty well-rounded with every area of the car . They each have their areas , but a guy on these teams doesn ’ t say , “ All right , my cylinder heads are serviced and done , I ’ m going to go sit outside .” When somebody ’ s done with their job , they ’ ll go help the other guy . Nobody has an ego is what I guess I ’ m saying . All they want is the best result for these cars to run well .
BOBBY : There are guys on our team , 100 percent , that could go and work on another team , and instantly move up the so-called ladder , which we try to stay away from that here , too , you know ? Everybody is so important . We ’ ve been together for so long , it ’ s not a part of your daily thought process of , “ How do we rebuild or how do we get it back ?” All of us here just always march forward .
With the team clicking , Torrence hit his stride in 2016 , winning three times that year . It was a mere preview of the domination that would come . They won eight times in 2017 , followed it on the vengeance tour in 2018 , winning all six races in the Countdown to the Championship to claim their first world title . The Torrence Racing team has won 49 times since the start of 2017 , a staggering number considering Billy hasn ’ t raced a full season in that time . But as the spotlight has grown , the team ’ s approach hasn ’ t changed .