You may have never raced a Legends car. You may not even have a desire to ever get into a Legends car. But if you're a racer-or even just a racing fan-worth your salt, you've almost definitely heard of Legends racing.

Started by U.S. Legend Cars International (then called 600 Racing) all the way back in 1992, the popularity of these small-scale cars has exploded. Now, you can find Legends racing at tracks all across the Western hemisphere.

Since the introduction of the Legends car, U.S. Legend Cars has also added car designs with the smaller-scale Bandolero and the larger Legends Roadster, and while any of these three can be, and are, raced on dirt, they are primarily asphalt race cars. But now there is a Legends car soon to be on the scene, and for the first time ever it is designed expressly for dirt track racing.

The Legends lineup of cars is popular because they are inexpensive-at least when compared to many other forms of stock car racing-relatively simple to work on and maintain, and they are a challenge to drive. And although there will be cheating in any sport and at any time you declare a winner, these are spec cars from the headlight decals to the rear bumper, so it's more difficult to buy an advantage by outspending the competition. And finally, there is proof that these cars can be a stepping stone to greater things-witness current top level NASCAR drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt and Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, David Ragan, and others who got their starts in Legends cars.

So when former championship crew chief and NASCAR team owner Ray Evernham and the people of U.S. Legend Cars International put their heads together to develop a dirt-specific Legends race car, they knew they had both a great foundation to build from and big expectations to meet. The result is the U.S. Legends Modified Dirt Car, and it's quite an interesting beast.

Recently, Evernham, and Speedway Motorsports' Don Hawk and Marcus Smith gave Circle Track an up-close look at one of the first complete cars. Instead of simply throwing a new body shell on the successful Legends Car design, the Modified is almost an entirely new creation.

Evernham, who has returned to his short track racing roots as the owner of a dirt track in central North Carolina (East Lincoln Speedway), took the lead in developing the car and followed it through all the way to the finished product. It looks like a classic Sprint Car from the good old days, and a look under the fiberglass bodywork shows that those design cues go more than just skin deep.

Dirt racing heritage is integral in this new car's DNA. Where all the Legends cars before it had double A-frame front suspensions and a standard ring-and-pinion rearend in back, the Modified has a solid front axle up front and a live axle quick change rearend in back-just like a Sprint Car. There's also a Sprint-style pitman arm steering system, a raised driveshaft tunnel right between the driver's legs, and bigger tires in back just like a dirt car should have.

"Basically, we've developed an entry-level, open-wheel, dirt-style race car," Evernham explains of the design. "We want to give drivers a car that is safe, powerful, and easy to work with. When you've been lucky enough to be a part of this sport and earn a living from it like I have, you want to be able to give back in some way. I think this car is a great way to help people who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity be able to go racing. I didn't have the resources to do all of the development myself, so when I had the opportunity to partner with (Speedway Motorsports chairman and CEO) Bruton Smith, I jumped at it."

Evernham points out that this new car is designed to cut out a lot of the hassles that intimidate many people from ever going dirt racing. The 74-inch wheelbase is small enough that the car doesn't require a fullsize car trailer to tow it to the track. He also says that the chassis is simple enough that basic setups do not require an expensive set of scales or other setup tools. "All you need is a tape measure, a jack, and some handtools, and you can set up and maintain the car. The engine runs on pump gas, and is sealed to discourage people from ripping into it. It's basically maintenance-free, so you should be able to run seasons on it without a noticeable power loss."