NASCAR Modifieds in the Spotlight

by Patrick Reynolds on April 20, 2010 · 8 comments

Now is an exciting time to be part of the NASCAR Modified community. There are two tours organized by the stock car sanctioning body, divided up into the North and South. Anticipation runs heavy in garages on both sides of the Mason Dixon line.

Up in New England, the ‘mod squad’ is right in between two traditional and popular springtime weekends. The Icebreaker at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway was staged just two weekends ago. Longtime division car owner Bob Garbarino proudly walked into victory lane following the 150-lap event. His young driver, Bob Santos III, comes from another family with racing roots in the northeast for a few generations.

Santos has won in USAC open wheel racing in the Midwest and came off a driver development program with Bill Davis Racing. Still in his early twenties his future with motorsport’s highest levels is still a strong possibility.

Looming this weekend is the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway, also in the Nutmeg State. The Modifieds will again take center stage, this time for a 200-lap main event.

The Sizzler has a long and rich history but has lost its luster over time. The race was born with an original 80-lap distance and large dollars for the short sprint. Reggie Ruggiero won this format when it was last held in 1987. His prize money was $9600. In 2009 Ted Christopher won the 200 and was awarded a first prize of $9200. That is typical of watching the slow fade from glory NASCAR’s oldest division has endured over the decades.

NASCAR greats Richie Evans, Geoff Bodine, Maynard Troyer, Bugs Stevens and Jerry Cook all called the modified class home.

In the Southland, the local modified racers have become household names over the winter with the airing of “Madhouse” on The History Channel. The series focuses on racing action at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Racing and non-racing fans around the country have come to know track stars Junior Miller, Tim Brown, Burt Myers, Jason Myers and Chris Fleming.

The Southern Modified Tour began its season in March with some Stadium crossovers in entries. And while Stafford Springs readies for the Sizzler, the Madhouse is preparing for opening night 2010. A 200-lap feature will christen the New Year as it traditionally does.

The fastest cars NASCAR sanctions are getting ready to rush into the untarnished season. After a cold winter of work by teams and waiting by fans the anticipation and optimism are at a high level.

We all have sentimental favorite tracks, cars, or drivers that influenced our auto racing passion. I grew up watching and being a fan of the Modifieds. I honed my mechanical skills on the Modifieds. My favorite type of racecar continues to be the Modifieds. Excuse me while I count down to the weekend.

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1 Jim Davidson April 21, 2010 at 8:13 am

Good article Patrick! I was lucky enough to see the mods run at North Wilkesboro on 2 occassions…great show! I also watched them every year at New Smyrna during speedweeks. Although I got to see Richie Evans and Reggie (even Dick Trickle) and all the rest race in person, I always have wanted to go up north to see places like Stafford and Thompson! The Madhouse tv show is pretty good tv…it makes me want to see Bowman Gray in person! What other tracks do these Bowman Gray cars race at? I live in Colorado, so there is no chance of seeing any Nascar Mods around here! There are still a few super mods around, but no paved tracks long enough for them to race anymore…I sure miss seeing them too! Several times, I was able to watch them run at Volusia County Speedway…fast, fast, fast!

2 Patrick Reynolds April 21, 2010 at 8:25 am

Jim, the cars race on the southern and northern tours for NASCAR. Those schedules are available on NASCAR’ site. Weekly racing, they run at Riverhead NY. Modifieds run limited schedules at Thompson, CT, Spencer, NY, Lancaster, NY and Wall Stadium in NJ. A limited version competes weekly at Stafford, Thompson, and Waterford, all in Connecticut. There are also the Race of Champions Tour and the Modified Racing Series around the Northeast. If you ever on the east coast check them out again! As always, thanks for reading!

3 Janine April 21, 2010 at 8:57 am

Hi Patrick, do you if the mods are going to run at Bristol Tenn., again this year?

4 Patrick Reynolds April 21, 2010 at 9:35 am

Janine, yes the Modifieds will share Wednesday night with the Truck Series during Bristol’s August weekend.

5 Lucy April 21, 2010 at 10:16 am

Hi Patrick – Went to Bristol last year to see the Modifieds run and had a fantastic time! One great tip for anyone going for the first time this year is that you can get in to the pits to watch Tuesday night practice. We paid a small fee at the credentials trailer, got our wristbands and had the most amazing experience ever. Make sure you are dressed appropriately. If you time it right, you can enter the pits via the access gate where you walk down the bank in turn 3. DO NOT FORGET YOUR EARPLUGS! Even for practice it is amazingly loud. It is a perspective that you will never ever forget.

6 Double A April 21, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Glad to see that maybe, just maybe the mods will again recieve the recognition they so justly deserve. I grew up on mods at Islip, Freeport, and Riverside. then, later, I had the privilege to work on one at Claremont, and Martinsville, and then New Symrna during speedweeks. I’d have to say the 80′s were my golden years. Hit a big twin-bill race at Oxford and let me tell you, that Evans, Spencer, Bodine, and others knew how to party. better people you’ll never find.

7 leonard April 21, 2010 at 3:20 pm

There is nothing in the world like an asphalt modified,it is the real race car.It is just about the last place you can see personal ingenuity on these creations,but its ALL approved stuff….my absolute favorite was God Bless Him,Lenny Boehler’s ball joint coolers they were awesome.Best sound ever was Richie Evans running time trials at Thompson,Stafford,or about driving it in deep and then picking up the throttle stood the hair up on my neck.Those were the days brother!

8 Patrick Reynolds April 21, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Leonard, I remember Boehler in the junkyard looking for parts ON THE WAY to Stafford on a Friday, his soup can upper radiator hose repair. And Pete Fiandaca’s coffee can air cleaner.

Evans, Troyer, Bodine, Bouchard, Kent, Cook, Treichler, Stevens, DeSarro… Those were absolutely THE DAYS.

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