Four in perfect formation! This isn't the parade lap. These guys are racing for position.
Wanna go racing in the IMCA? Well, they have a whole host of options, all with rules packages that put the focus on affordability and safety. There are eight different divisions and four series. Here's a look at them.
The crown jewel of the IMCA empire is the Modified. Over 500 hp, 8-inch tires, and a post-race weight minimum of 2,450 pounds with the driver make these beasts fly around the track. But be warned: "It's not where you have this big, old gumbo tire on there and you're just driving like a wild man," says Johnny "The Jet" Saathoff. "You've got to drive these cars hard, but yet you have to finesse them around the track."
It may surprise some that IMCA offers a Sprint Car series that features both winged and non-winged machines. But these hot rods are the original Sprint Cars. They were gone from the IMCA scene for a while, but Keith Knaack brought them back in the early '90s.
Probably one of the most recognizable dirt race cars around is the Late Model. They're everywhere. But there's a twist on the IMCA Late Model. These cars sport spec engines and spec tires. GM, Ford, or Chrysler V-8s are the choices, and displacement ranges from 361 to 364 ci, depending on the manufacturer.
Thanks to Rob Keller for this great underside view of an IMCA mod. Note the simplicity of
As the name implies, IMCA's Stock Car class features full-bodied American stock cars. Like the IMCA Modifieds, these cars can use any American engine, but it must feature an OE passenger vehicle production block. No fancy stuff here, but there is no limit on cubic inches.
IMCA Hobby Stock is an entry-level division designed to give new competitors the chance to go racing. Hobby Stocks are pretty much bone-stock production cars. The body and frame must match, and the engines must reflect the correct pairing to the model. No '88 big-block Monte Carlos here. If you want that setup, you better try the IMCA Stock Car class.
IMCA developed another entry-level division called the SportMod. Split into a Northern and Southern division, the SportMod is pure low-buck Modified racing. The Northern Division is based on the traditional Modified rules, but has restrictions on the motors and suspensions. The Southern Division has a purpose-built race car that uses the GM metric chassis-it's essentially an IMCA Hobby Stock with a Modified body. Both divisions offer dirt Modified racing at half the cost of a traditional IMCA Modified.
If ever there was a true entry-level racing class, the IMCA Sport Compact is it. Buy any front-wheel-drive, four-passenger, four-cylinder car; gut it, drop in a racing seat and rollcage, and head to the track. The kicker with IMCA Sport Compacts is the minimum age to race these things is 14!
In addition to the eight divisions, there are also four traveling series. Two are dedicated to the IMCA Modifieds; the Dakota Classic Modified Tour runs through North Dakota and Saskatchewan, Canada, while the Empire State Modified Series tours tracks in New York State. The Deery Brothers Summer Series is a special tour for the Late Model division. Finally, there is the Jackpot Junction Sprint Tour which, as you might guess, features the IMCA Sprint Cars.
IMCA divisions promote driver development. Start with the Sport Compacts, and as you get better you can move up the ladder to the top-Modifieds and Sprint Cars. Two divisions, Sport Compacts and Hobby Stocks, have a restricted entry. If you run in any other IMCA division, you are not allowed to race in them. The point is to give up-and-coming racers much needed experience. The beauty of IMCA racing is that regardless of the division, you can compete on a tight budget.