Roy Hagadorn: One World Championship and Three Generations of A Drag Racing Family
Many say that Sportsman ace Roy Hagadorn “owns” his home track of Bradenton Motorsports Park. Roy’s prolific career of wins have included many recorded at the facility, south of Tampa. Here Roy & Family celebrate yet another victory.
Story by Jim Hill
For Venice, Florida’s Roy Hagadorn, drag racing has been a two-part endeavor. Part A: Family fun Part B: Two and four wheel vehicles. While this may seem to be overly ambitious, Roy and his family racing operation have excelled on all levels. His level of success is such that Hagadorn has quietly risen to become recognized as one of the most prolific and winningest Sportsman racers of the last two decades!
Roy’s venture into acceleration motorsports came after attending a drag race at his hometown track, Desoto Memorial Dragway, in the early 1970’s. (Later renamed Bradenton Motorsports Park.) He was interested enough that he returned several more times during the next few years, again strictly as a spectator. Roy was working his construction day job, for Perry Concrete, when a fellow worker convinced Roy into taking his then-new 1981 Suzuki 1100 out to Desoto to run it through the quarter mile timers., it was Roy’s first introduction to drag racing off the street, and Roy’s first venture into competition. That first race was none too successful, but the thrill of slamming a hot bike down the quarter mile grabbed Roy’s attention, and set the hook. He began running regularly at the track, gaining in both skills and confidence.
Roy married wife Candy in 1983, and she quickly embraced Roy’s passion for drag racing. Soon she and Roy were regulars at Bradenton. Roy was still aboard his trusty ’81 Suzuki, and she was riding the powerful bike as well. A daughter, Danielle soon came along. By the time she was eight years old, the family Hagadorn had acquired a Junior Dragster, to share the family’s now common hobby with Danielle.
When Danielle turned 16 Roy located and restored a 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint. This now classic early Ford musclecar became a treasured birthday gift.
As Roy says: “Danielle grew up as a race track kid, hanging out in the pits with us and other racer’s kids. She was always with us at the races, helping and looking forward to when she could drive her own race car”.
Danielle’s focus was on driving and improving her starting line skills. Those skills were quickly developed, and she was rewarded with a Bradenton Track Championship in the Sportsman Division.
Danielle has since married, of course to another regular at BMP, Mike Mocny. Danielle and Mike now have two kids of their own, Tanner, 4 and Kylie, 1. That takes Roy and Candy full-circle with their grandchildren now representing the third generation of the racing Hagadorn-Mocny families.
“I always thought that Danielle growing up a race track kid, and being surrounded by great people helped her to become the person she is today”, Dad Roy reflected with a proud grin.
Roy’s two-wheeled drag racing success has made him a sort of legend in NHRA’s Division 2. His trusty ’81 Suzuki, which he fondly refers to as “Old Blue”, and on which he won countless rounds, is still a proud family possession.
Not content with merely racing and winning on two wheels, Roy also built and campaigned several four-wheel race cars, running in Sportsman, Pro ET, and Super Pro. These cars included a ’67 and ’75 Camaro, both primarily home built and maintained. Seeking something faster, he acquired a Worthy rear-engine dragster chassis and ran it in Super Comp Eliminator. His four-wheel efforts have themselves been successful, although mostly at his home track, Bradenton.
It’s on two wheels where Roy and the Hagadorn family racing team really excelled. The highlight of Roy’s long racing career came during the 2014 racing season when he captured the NHRA Pro Bike World Championship title. Yep, the Pro Bike World Championship, two words most often associated with a fellow named Garlits, who lives just up the road, in Ocala, Florida. Roy’s career highlight victory came at the NHRA World Finals, in Pomona, California. It was quite a thrill for the Hagadorn family, and the big payoff for his many years of competition.
Roy’s very successful career has led him to claim numerous track championships. This success is the result of his consistency as a driver and tuner as well as his tenacity at showing up every week, ready to compete. That has led him to an amazing 16 different BMP Pro Bike titles, the first coming in 1983, and his most recent in 2012.
Many of his bike racing titles has come on the same weekend in which he was running his four-wheeled, ET Bracket race cars. Anyone who has raced hard will testify to the focus required to be seriously competitive with a single vehicle, let alone two and sometimes three!
In NHRA’s tough Southeast Division 2 competition, Roy has captured Pro Bike titles an astonishing 10 different years, beginning in 1990. He’s also won numerous “big meet” Pro Bike events at other regional events, showing that Roy’s skills as a rider and tuner are adaptable to other, unfamiliar venues.
Certainly, Roy Hagadorn and his family racing team’s strongest attribute is their loyalty to each other. But that loyalty extends to the vehicles they have competed with for three decades now. “Old Blue”, Roy’s legacy ’81 Suzuki remains ready to race. Daughter Danielle’s ’64 Falcon Sprint is also ready. Roy’s bikes and his cars are not only competitive race vehicles, but enduring memory-vessels of all the good times spent with family and friends, at the drag strip.
Congratulations to Roy Hagadorn (and his family, friends and fans) on his induction into The East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame.