Front view of a Supermodified.
Racer Jon Henes echoes Smith's feeling. "I think there are maybe 12 cars that can possibly win each race," says Henes. "The competition level continues to get better and the series just continues to grow."
The MSA is also attracting new racers like accomplished Super Late Model veteran Tim Ice. "I love these cars," says Ice. "I actually shook a car down and tested several years ago for car owner Dave May at Barberton (OH) Speedway. I knew then I wanted to try these. But, the timing was wrong, I was doing so much with the Late Model cars. Finally the opportunities arose and I was available."
Ice says that this type of racing is a whole other animal. "When I look left and can touch the engine and to my right is the right front wheel, I know this is serious. The power to weight ratio is definitely different and all seat of the pants driving, every lap from the word go."
As far as the MSA group goes, Ice had nothing but praise. "I've been around a lot of different race organizations and the MSA is very well run, exceptional really. They have accepted me as one of their drivers, and a great group of drivers they are."
Supers scream down the backstretch at Sandusky Speedway. Look closely, there are five cars
Qualifying for an MSA race incorporates everyone taking a qualifying lap before the heat races. Then depending on the car count, the top 12 qualifiers are inverted into different heat races. An inversion is also used in the feature. A roll of a single die determines the number of racers inverted. For example, if there were three heat races completed and the die rolled either a 1, 2, or 3, MSA inverts 9 cars for the feature (the top 3 from each heat).
MSA also has a breakout rule in effect unless the 12 fastest times are within 1/2-second of each other. In addition, you cannot break out if you were in the top 6 times. Breaking out is defined as the leader of the race turning any two laps of a heat race or any three laps of a feature 1/2-second faster than they qualified.
According to the MSA official Jeff Lickfelt, "The reason MSA does qualifying this way is it is 100 percent fair to anyone who has never raced with us before, creating sort of an open invitation to anyone who wants to stop in for just 1 or 2 races, they will not be penalized for not attending other shows."
Youngster Trent Stephens will always remember his second ever MSA start.
That kind of open mindedness has helped MSA flourish. "This is my fourth season with the MSA group," says Bobby Hayduk, MSA's traveling flagman. "It is the best group I work with. The drivers understand me and I understand them, we kind of have our own language. This series is very competitive from the front of the pack to the back. Not only am I an official on race day, but I am friends with these guys off the track, which is very important."
Hayduk handles flagging duties at all 13 of MSA's 2008 events which includes visits to six different tracks with first time stops at Spencer, New York and Angola, Indiana. The sanction also has a great working relationship with Oswego Speedway (the upstate New York 3/8-mile oval) where in 2007 the two groups hosted a three race schedule known as the MSA-Oswego Challenge. These races utilize the MSA and Oswego racers under one curtain for a separate points fund within the MSA points fund. In 2008 the MSA-Oswego Challenge picked up a series sponsor in Burke's Home Centers and was increased from three to six races; two races at Sandusky, three at Oswego, and one at Spencer (NY) Speedway. Also for 2008, MSA picked up a title sponsor in PPG Vibrance Collection paints. The response has been so overwhelming for PPG that at press time, discussions for 2009 MSA sponsorship is well under way.