Affordable Modified classes...
Affordable Modified classes like the WISSOTA Midwest Modified can keep competitors in the sport and away from other hobbies. Ryan Weber (21) and George Sniezek (17) do battle atDeer Creek (MN) Speedway.
With the passage of time, the sport evolves. Racing in the 21st Century looks very different from the sport a few decades ago. However, some of the same threats exist, and the biggest continues to be the rising cost of racing.
The idea of affordable racing is relative. Racers have been known to run a class or two higher than their budget would allow. Instead of racing five years, they end up running only three and then moving to a seat in the grandstands-if they can stand to watch the sport that drained their bank accounts and may have impacted their quality of life even more.
When Keith Knaack spotted the trend in the late '70s, he took action by creating a Modified car that would run on the area tracks throughout Iowa. It would involve little investment, racing for a smaller purse, but keeping the spirit of the sport thriving. The idea of the Modifieds has caught on and spread, becoming one of the largest classes in the country. However, the concept of affordable racing may have gotten lost in the shuffle in some cases. While it was never designed to be the answer for all budgets, higher-paying races sprung up, leading to higher spending, and the Modifieds moved into a place not occupied by entry-level classes.
Body dimensions in the Southwestern...
Body dimensions in the Southwestern Independent Modified Series (SIMS) are slightly different from the traditional Modifieds, but there are plenty of rules to keep costs in check.
With the metamorphosis of the Modifieds in some cases, there was a need for another level of racing for those who couldn't afford Modifieds and didn't want to run Street Stocks. The idea of Economy Modifieds or Limited Modifieds started to take hold.
One such group is the Texas-based Southwestern Independent Modified Series (SIMS). This group got its roots when Modified racing in the region became a class for those with unlimited money and limited car counts. Recent transplant Bill Gould found he couldn't afford to run his Modified at Battleground Speedway, but the track's Jody Peel came to him with an idea of building a two-seater for rides. The two-seater led to the idea of starting a new class, and eight cars were built for the first season. These eight cars served as the seeds, as the class totaled 15 cars by year's end. The idea to sanction the cars soon followed, but the first series promoter ran into difficulties. At the end of the season, Mark Chewning stepped up to help out and purchased the series. Through his efforts, the SIMS Modifieds have continued growth throughout Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas.
SIMS competitors can get plenty...
SIMS competitors can get plenty of speed and power from the cars. Using the Hoosier tire and keeping horsepower to the 300-325 range, competitors can get a lot of race car for a little cash.
Gould has remained active with the sanction, serving in the capacity of head tech official. As a racer, he can see how the steps taken by the sanction are in the competitors' best interests. "We don't allow aftermarket heads," he says when talking about cost-cutting measures. "You have to run stock rods. The engine rule is a $500 claim and swap. All of our cars are built from '78-'87 metric frames. You must have all stock suspension, but you can run racing shocks or racing springs." There are slight differences in body dimensions between the SIMS Modified and the traditional Mod.
One area of savings comes in building the cars. There are some cars built by chassis manufacturers in the region, but a good welder and his friends can put together a solid race car for little money. "There are chassis builders who can get a good price for these cars," says Gould. "That's fine. That's their business. It's what they do. If a guy wants to buy a car from a builder, he can do it and be competitive."
One way that SIMS is trying to help the racer is through a lack of mandates. "We won't run spec parts because then it gets expensive for the racer," Gould says. "When you say, 'you have to run this,' you're spending the racer's money. The only exception is the tire and the headers. This year, you can run the Hoosier 500 tire for the class or a DOT 60 series, but next year it's going to be the Hoosier since most of them are running it anyway. The headers are $109 from Schoenfeld, so there's no need to buy a higher-priced piece. We've got sponsors in the series that support us without making us spec their product."