Let's face it, these cars are fast, fun to work on (read that as being able to change the geometry and setups within the more relaxed rules), and with limited tires, able to race competitively for less money than most other top level forms of short track racing.

The Northeast Big Block Modifieds are a variation of those early Modifieds and are bringing in large numbers of both racers and spectators where they run. And the SK and Tour-type asphalt Modifieds that started in the Northeast are now being run in the south, in and around central North Carolina and doing quite well.

But the more global and successful cars in the modified ranks are still, and will be for a long time, the IMCA-styled cars. Scaled four-cylinder versions of those cars are a real possibility, if not already in the making.

Fullsize American Cars--I see a decline in both the numbers of teams and the interest in these outdated and dwindling numbers of cars. It has been known for some time that these are crappy race cars. They don't handle well, they're hard to find parts for, and large to tote around. The types of racers who run stockers are moving on to the compact cars more and more, on both asphalt and dirt. Tiring of searching for parts that are becoming more and more scarce has those who will continue to race stockers building the easy to buy and maintain foreign cars that get better fuel mileage, are easier to transport, and take up less room in the garage. Is this a good thing? You bet. How many race weekends have you watched a bunch of Monte Carlos and Camaros race where numerous crashes delayed a 25-lap race and caused it to last more than an hour? That's ridiculous. On some nights it's difficult to get in two or three clean laps before a caution comes out. It's no wonder they're disappearing.

Race Cars of the Future--As for the future, there's one company that's getting in on the rush to buy and race smaller and more affordable race cars. Bruton Smith and Ray Evernham have teamed up to start a new series for specially designed Legends cars that are adapted to dirt. These cars will be part of the stable of race cars produced by U.S. Legend Cars International.

The series was first run at East Lincoln Speedway in Stanley, North Carolina, and will presumably expand out to other tracks as time goes on. The cars look very similar to cars that race in Europe in that the driver sits well back in the car, kind of like a Sprint Car, and there are plenty of nerf bars all around the car to enable and possibly enhance contact, but not disaster.

Many racetracks are asking teams to use more inexpensive powerplants to reduce costs. In the past, a large percent of the upper tier race cars' costs have been in the engine department and shocks. So, restrictive rules on engines, i.e. running crate or spec motors to disallow high-priced parts and procedures, have lowered the overall cost of racing those cars. The key is in the inspection and enforcement of those restrictive rules. One thing that has suppressed the growth of racing and goes against the natural desires of more than 90 percent of racers is the disallowance of working with and redesigning the chassis, suspension, and setups. I say 90 percent because we all know that there's a certain small number of racers who complain that they aren't competitive and that those who win, and those who run up front competing for the win, must certainly be out-spending them, and/or cheating.

Both of those arguments are, in most cases I've seen, just not true. In several instances where teams I have worked with dominated the competition, cries went out that we were cheating. The truth is that we had better setups than the others and spent zero money on parts to attain those setups. We just rearranged the parts and pieces we had to a combination that suited the car and gave it what it wanted. One trend I witnessed related to the future of racing were race shops that built and offered for rent or sale multiple cars in the compact stock class. This is another area of future thinking that benefits those who want to race, but don't have the time or knowhow to build and maintain a race car. More of the knowledgeable teams could finance their racing by offering cars to those who are less adept at building and setting them up.

A shop that successfully builds one car that is competitive can easily duplicate that effort for multiple cars at a very low cost. Then by renting those out, the shop could recoup its investment in a relatively short amount of time and thereafter, profit from the enterprise. Another area we have explored mentally is the concept of financing of race cars. Many wannabe race drivers have the cash flow and collateral to make payments on race cars, but not necessarily the reserves to outright purchase one.

So, for a small amount of down payment, a security agreement with the lender, and monthly payments for, say five years, a wannabe racer can own his own car and be a short track racer. These newcomers can start out in lower classes with a $12,000- to 15,000-car which would require around $1,500 down and $2,700 per year, plus interest for a cost of about $250 per month. I know plenty of people who have boats or motorcycles who pay more than that and get less use out of those toys. And, the race team can consist of an entire family in the mid-week preparations, going to the track for a weekend outing and being part of the pit crew.

Conclusion

Whether you race compacts, scaled cars, or Late Models, you might be thinking about changing classes, preparing for your kids to go racing, or even moving to a more inexpensive class so that you can continue to race. Now is the time to consider the options and make that decision. The good thing is that there seem to be a lot more choices now than ever before, and we like that. It's good for short track racing to be affordable and the thrills experienced by the racers and fans is the same. It's all in the level of competition and we see no lack of that. Promoters, just don't over-rule the teams, OK?