The simplicity of the ISMA's rule book lends to the creative engineering of the Supers. It looks like a memo pad compared to the phone book of NASCAR. ISMA rules govern the width, length, total weight, and offset weight of the cars. Beyond that, the car's design is limited only by a team's imagination.

Get In, Sit Down, Shut Up, And Hold On

The process of getting into a Super is as unique as the car itself. Squeeze into the cockpit feet first through the top of the rollcage, taking care not to smack your head on the wing. Tucked snugly into the driver's seat, you quickly realize that you're nearly lying flat. Your head is a mere 24 inches above the ground, and you can barely see the left-front tire because of the intake stacks on the engine that sit just in front of your left thigh.

Once you're in the Super and it's go time, getting rolling takes a little help. These direct drive cars do not have transmissions, so they have to be pushed to be started. Plus, you have to bump the engine back to get all the fuel out of the cylinders. Once you've got that taken care of, the process is pretty simple. "Lock it in gear, then the push truck will come up behind you. You put the ignition switch on and he starts pushing you," describes Payne. "Make sure you've got your oil pressure up. Hit the switch and that's it; the fire starts."

The g-force these cars create is something straight out of Top Gun. "We go to some racetracks where the top of your head is trying to get sucked off of your body because of the vacuum that the wings create," says 22-year-old Kyle "The Smile" Carpenter, who drives the Lane Racing No. 9 Super. "On racetracks like Sandusky Speedway, when you step on the brakes you feel like you're going to go through the windshield area. You get down into the corners and the g-forces just try to rip you out of the race car."

The Tracks And The Stars

Even though you can find these race cars across the country, the acknowledged hotbed of Supermodified racing is the Northeast. Tracks such as Oswego Speedway in New York, Thompson Speedway in Connecticut, Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire, and Jennerstown Speedway in Pennsylvania all host Supermodified events under the ISMA sanction.

Supermodified racing is full of colorful personalities. Walk the pits at an ISMA event and you can meet The Jersey Jet Joey Payne, Kyle "The Smile" Carpenter, Liquid Lou Cicconi, and two-time ISMA Champ, Chris Perley The Rowley Rocket with his trademark floppy hat.

While Perley, runner-up for the 2005 ISMA title, is the man to beat in 2006, a third championship is not guaranteed. Longtime ISMA powerhouse Dunigan Racing parked their cars for 2006, leaving reigning champion Pat Abold searching for a ride, and their head wrench Brian Allegresso is now the man behind Liquid Lou's effort. Adding Allegresso, the Ray Evernham of Supermodifieds, makes Cicconi an instant contender.

Perley will also have to fend off the guy who finished Third in the points last year, Fornoro. Fornoro is on a two-year win streak. If that wasn't enough, guys like Mike Lichty, Kyle the Smile, Mark Sammut, and Dave McKnight will all be nipping at Perley's bumper.