Tire stagger also plays an important role in the Super's performance. Depending on the track, teams will run anywhere from 2.5 inches of stagger all the way up to 7 inches. In a 1998 race at Sandusky, the paper-clip-shaped 51/48-mile Ohio oval, Payne used a combination of tire stagger and crossweight to reduce his lap times. He increased the rear-tire stagger to 6.5 inches. To compensate for the big stagger, he increased the crossweight by 4 percent to help load the left rear. He made the car turn with the stagger and made it drive off the corner with the crossweight. The result was a big win for the Fairlawn, New Jersey, driver.

Super Chassis Design

While fire-breathing big-blocks, moving wings, and big stagger are all part of Super racing, the true nerve center of the car is the chassis and suspension combination. There are literally dozens of different suspension combinations in ISMA racing. From torsion bar cars, to coil cars, to pushrod cars, if somebody can dream it up, you'll probably find it in the ISMA pits.

Payne's '06 car features a pushrod suspension with inboard-mounted coilover shocks. Designed to be user friendly, Shadow Racing Products built the bell cranks with proprietary motion ratios and shock valving to allow Payne to use a more standard spring rate ranging from 325 to 425 pounds. Other cars using a pushrod suspension may require spring rates of up to 1,600 pounds if the motion ratios are not properly calibrated. Of course, the motion ratio is the key and a closely guarded secret. "If I told you the numbers, I would have to bury you out back," said Bob DuBois, owner of Shadow.

In 2005, Payne's brother, Johnny, raced a torsion bar car in ISMA. Bar cars have the spring base next to the wheel, while the main rear bar goes directly underneath the 45-gallon fuel tank. With the wider spring base and the extra fuel tank support from the torsion bar support tube, a torsion bar car tends to be more stable and more forgiving to drive than other cars. But that comfort comes with a price-it is also heavier. The solid bars add 18 pounds to each corner. That's a lot of weight. And in today's world of Supermodified racing, that's also a problem. "The name of the game nowadays is you've got to be light. If you're not light, you're not going to win. Fortunately, the rules let you add weight where you need it," says Payne.

Most Supermodified sanctioning bodies don't allow bolt-on weights, but they do allow freedom of weight placement. That means weight placement and its adjustability has to be built into the race car, making the design stage the most important step in building a Super.

If you don't want to deal with motion ratios in bell cranks and heavier torsion bars, another option is the coil car. These designs have the spring base set in against the frame. While the coil car is lighter on the corners, the downside shows up on the racetrack when the car gets loose. They tend to be harder to gather up once they get loose, whereas a torsion bar car will snap back in line quicker. To gain the best of both worlds, some teams have gone to a combination torsion bar in the rear and coilover in the front.

The wide variety of suspension designs is a testament to the creativity of the Supermodified teams. The best design is largely a matter of opinion and driver preference. Guys are winning with all three designs and more. "Torsion bars, coil cars, pushrod suspensions, some of the stuff you see is really off the wall," says Midget legend and winning ISMA driver Nokie Fornoro. "But it's all about weight on the wheel."