Funny car champion visits former school
RINER – Christiansburg’s Matt Hagan is one of the most successful alumni to have ever walked the halls of the building that is now Auburn Middle School.
Tuesday the 2011 NHRA/Full Throttle Funny Car World Champion spent some time motivating the students currently walking those halls toward successes of their own.
Already five races into the new season, the 2001 Auburn High School graduate took some time out of his schedule to meet with each of the three grade levels, sharing his philosophies on success and encouraging them to make a commitment to finish school.
Hagan made it clear to the more than 300 students, that like them, his success began with school.
“It all started with graduating,” Hagan told the groups.
“No matter what you want to do, it all starts here.”
The 29-year-old encouraged the students to set goals for themselves and stressed the importance of the students surrounding themselves with people who want to see those goals achieved.
Hagan said afterward, he knew first-hand that growing up in a small town can often make students think their opportunities are limited, but he hoped sharing his success with them could help change that.
Following each talk, Hagan spent time fielding questions from students which ranged from how he balances his 23-race schedule with his family life to what it’s like to be blown up.
The driver, whose exploding funny car became a viral video sensation after an incident last weekend in Concord, N.C., answered that last question with a grin.
“Blowing up is not fun,” Hagan said.
Following his time with the classes, Hagan stuck around to visit with students and sign autographs during their lunch periods.
Hagan spent close to five hours in his former school, which to him seemed like time well spent.
“If you touch just a couple of them and get them used to setting some goals for themselves, you’re doing a good thing,” Hagan said.
At least one student heard that message loud and clear.
Seventh-grade student Hannah Deyell decided not to accept one of the autographed photos Hagan was handing and instead asked for him to sign the folder she carries her report cards in.
Deyell said she planned to place the folder in her binder where she could look at it for inspiration to work hard at her studies.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
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