Editor's Note: In the tradition of Circle Track's Saturday Night Buildup feature, we have elected to add another car to that style of story. With this new Northeast Warrior article, we begin an odyssey, which follows the birth and competition of a new car as it campaigns in the Northeast Street Stock Division of DIRT Motorsports. The creation of this new series gives you, our reader, the opportunity to follow short-track dirt cars on the West and East Coasts. We hope you enjoy and benefit from the continuing coverage of both our West Coast (Saturday Night Buildup) and East Coast (Northeast Warrior) stories. Each car will appear alternately in future issues of Circle Track.
In the world of motorsports, change is constant. Regardless of the type of race car, division, or level of experience, race teams are in a constant struggle to find more speed, better handling, smoother aerodynamics, and so on. Many changes are subtle and go unnoticed to the untrained eye. However, there are times when something new appears at the local speedway and everyone takes immediate notice.
Such is the case in the Northeast, specifically in the Street Stock division that runs under sanction of the New York-based DIRT Motorsports. In slightly less than two years, the face of this division has changed radically since the appearance of the first "non-perimeter" Street Stock chassis.
The stalwarts of the Street Stock ranks for the past 20 years have been the standard late '70s-, early '80s-style Camaro or Firebird bodies over a built-up stock chassis. But now, in rapid succession, many teams are departing from these mainstays in favor of the new non-perimeter-style chassis, skinned by store-bought racing bodies. Some welcome the new look; others see it as the end of the division as it exists today.
For our purposes, a non-perimeter chassis will be defined as a chassis design with a left-side weight bias integrated into the design, as opposed to the stock-type chassis with more even weight distribution characteristics. The advantages of left-side weight bias are improved handling characteristics of the race car, specifically in its cornering ability. Many Street Stock drivers using the non-perimeter design feel that their cornering speeds are equal to those of the open-wheeled DIRT Sportsman cars.
The changeover has been so abrupt that the division was renamed Pro Stock for the '99 racing season. The division has taken on a more professional appearance, but one can argue whether it was necessary to further complicate matters with a name change. The Street Stocks, as they have been known for many years, are also called Bombers, Thunder Cars, and now Pro Stocks. Depending on the part of the country you are in, a non-perimeter type chassis may go by another name.
Like it or not, change is a part of motorsports-always has been, always will be. What is happening in this division is really nothing new. As the Pro Stocks move to the next level, they are experiencing the same evolutionary process that the open-wheeled Modified cars have undergone over the last 50 years. The transition has been made from backyard projects using stock bodies and frames to the professionally built, store-bought cars of today.
There is no better way to look at this class of race car than from inside the garage. Using a hands-on approach, a team has been assembled to build and race a Pro Stock at a DIRT-sanctioned racetrack in the 2000 season. By doing so, we can document the birth of a new race car from the developmental stage through actual competition. The track of choice is the Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, New York. We have chosen this venue for several reasons: It is big (51/48 mile), fast, the level of competition is top-shelf, and many of the newer chassis' are already in competition there. Many of the newer-style cars first appeared at Orange County, and the caliber of cars there has always been high.