Pioneering Top Alcohol Funny Car driver Fred Hagan has passed away.
“Racing was his life,” said his son Fred Hagen, Jr.
One of his first jobs was working as a mechanic at what would become a Mopar Hot Rod Mecca, “Mr. Norm’s” Grand Spaulding Dodge in 1962. It was there he befriended the likes of Chicagoland legends Norm Spaulding, Gary Dyer, Kenny Safford among others. He went on to have a career that certainly carved his name among the legends of not only the Chicagoland area, but Division 3 NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car.
Hagen started off with a 1963 Dodge, but it wasn’t too long before the “flip top” Funny Car craze hit and he became part of it. He got his start running UDRA races in 1969 with a former “Mr. Norm” Funny Car, front halved it, put a Charger 3 body on the rails and built an injected nitro hemi for power. UDRA outlawed that body, so he switched to a mini-Challenger body and campaigned that car until 1972.
“We didn’t race every year, but there was always a Funny Car in the garage from 1972 on,” said Hagen, Jr.
In 1972, he bought another former “Mr. Norm” car, this time building a blown alcohol combination, which he would continue to run the rest of his career. He ran his first NHRA race, the 1980 Winternationals. Racing under the “Dark Horse” moniker, he lived up to the name, surprising the field by making it to the finals before losing to Bryan Raymer’s Blown Alcohol Dragster.
In 1984, he qualified No. 1 at the U.S. Nationals and made it to the semifinals, losing to Ken Veney. His son Fred, Jr., took over the driving duties in 2009 and the father and son team went on to win the 2011 Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Norwalk.
In 2018, Hagen teamed with Bob McCosh, with McCosh handling the driving. McCosh went on to form his own team this year, and the Hagens were eagerly working to bringing their car back out this season.
Away from racing, Hagen ran a Union 76 gas station and repair shop near downtown Chicago until the late 90’s. When he sold the station, he bought commercial property that he leased.
Hagen was well regarded among his peers, not only for his racing prowess, but his willingness to help out a racer in need.
We will post details about his arrangements as soon as we get them.