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Fullsize American Cars--I see a decline in both the numbers of teams and the interest in these outdated and dwindling numbers of cars.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.
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?
Father and son racing is special....
Father and son racing is special. Of course, it could be daughter too, but the impact is the same. The bond grows between father and child and the time spent in the garage at home supplants the time the child is on the computer or playing games. I think our society needs more interaction between parents and their children.
The Legends car class is growing...
The Legends car class is growing all across the country due to the need for more affordable racing. If there were financing available for these cars, I believe the numbers would surge. Someone will eventually take the lead and offer financing for a new race car.
This vintage car is representative...
This vintage car is representative of the early Modifieds that I believe the modern IMCA-type of Modified is fashioned after. These early cars well typify the idea that racers have a need to experiment, tinker, and otherwise work on their cars and make of them what they will, without restrictions. This is why the Dirt Late Models and IMCA-type Modified classes have grown and continue to grow.
The interesting thing is that...
The interesting thing is that we rarely see a one-design, if you will, race car that has been run and been successful on both dirt and asphalt. But the IMCA-style Mod has been just that. This car could be run on both in the same weekend with minor setup and tire changes.
The Northeast Big Block Modifieds...
The Northeast Big Block Modifieds are the king of the short track Modifieds, their numbers are huge in and around New York and the competition is strong. These cars usually only run on dirt, but they often outnumber the Dirt Late Models and in some areas are more popular too.
The future for even the best...
The future for even the best prepared American stock car based on the Monte Carlo and Camaro bodies seems dismal. More and more we see the stocker class being made up of more easily obtainable and cheaper compact cars. Maybe the best use of these cars now would be to remove the body and use the frame for building a Modified.