"Something to Think About"...
"The Bigger The Bodies, The Smaller The Attendance
June 24, 2006
We get many great email messages from you guys, and from time to time we like to pull one aside and post it for all of you to read and comment on.  Here's one for you to think about:

"I have been on the SJDR site for years and for some reason I never checked out your stuff.  The 70's bring back so many memories it almost brings me to tears.  I was a Reading Rat and also would get to Nazareth and would get over to Flemington 3 - 4 times a year.  Next to Reading, Flemington was the best!  

I look at these photos and I realize why I don't attend very many mod races anymore.   I really love Sprints but it has gotten so expensive to travel out there I rarely go.  The main reason I really don't care for mods is the cars are just plain hideous looking and have no character.  The way the doors come up to the front tires just really looks stupid..  I used to love looking at the cars and see by the headers if it was a Ford or a Chevy.  Now for all I  know if they didn't make noise they might not even have an engine!

I hate the way the cars have the huge bodies and the small tires.  Looking at the old pics I see that they ran the smaller tires back then but they looked good on the old style cars.  I was just used to the humper tires as I mostly attended Grandview and Reading.  The younger fans don't know what they missed.  They think the newer cars look great.  It is no wonder that racing is dying.

Anyway, thanks for your hard work you put into your site and keep on keeping the past alive! "
Clay Benfield  -  Reading, PA

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06/24/06 3Wide I'm sure CB speaks for many of the Vault Faithful...  While I want to be careful to give today's younger fans the opportunity to find something that they can enjoy in today's Modifieds, I just don't see it...  At least not the way it was for many of us...

I know the guys racing today are trying real hard to put on a great show, and they're spending a ton of money doing it.  For all of them, I am grateful for the sacrifices they make.  But couldn't some promoter out there get daring enough and take a shot on opening up the rule book enough to allow and give an incentive for teams to be creative?  Use up some of those bodies that are very available that are dog ugly (sorry dogs) that would still make cool stock car bodies.

Did anybody else hear Chris Economaki on Wind Tunnel on June 18th talking about how the midget racing went away once they all started looking alike with the advent of the Curtiss Midget.  He said that the people turned to stock cars because they were something they could relate to and they all had their own style.

How about a mid 90's Bonneville cut off at the firewall?  How about a Dodge Intrepid, or dare I say Honda CRX... Hey, who would have thought a Gremlin or a Valiant would have looked so cool?

07/19/06 Kevin Eyres I'm with you 99%. Believe me it sounds great, but a lot of people don't understand the hours & hours & hours it takes to go to the junk yard, get a car, strip the body off, strip all the mouldings, mirrors, glass, and especially all the sound deadening material off these body parts. I began racing at the tail end of "the junkyard" bodies. Believe me, and most racers will agree, cutting and bending pre-painted aluminum is alot easier and now a days cheaper, than the fore mentioned junkyard and its hours of labor. God forbid a wreck. Back to the junkyard for more labor and body parts.

Back than, you laid out your body, stood back and admired it.. Everyone knows times have changed, for the better or the worse. Weather it is just me getting older or I value my time much greater, work wise ,I'll take today. Looks wise, take me back!!! please.

As always, thank you for your great site! Keep preserving.
07/19/06 3-Wide Can't argue about the time aspect Kevin... I barely have time to get my kid's Go-Kart ready for competition and it doesn't even really have a body!

I just wish there was a way to know for sure what effect the body styles have on overall fan enjoyment.  For example (and I'm not saying this is what would happen for sure...) If there was a way to prove that if body styles were more interesting and more appealing to spectators, attendance would increase by 50%, would all that extra work be worth doing?

I'm one of those who think that uniqueness of body styles would help attendance, but to what degree I'm not sure.

Some may say that in Nextel Cup all of the bodies look the same and it doesn't seem to hold them back.  To that I would agree, but look at how much they put into promoting the "uniqueness" of the main sponsors (UPS Taurus, Dupont Chevrolet, Home Depot Chevrolet...)   Look how much they put into making sure we all know the "uniqueness" of the drivers.  With all the teaser shows that they have on Speed, I'm finding out way too much info about the drivers (shoe size, pets names, favorite foods), but when you think about it, it pulls a lot of people into watching because that difference, from car to car... or from driver to driver, makes it interesting.

Seems to me that some local tracks have done a good job of creating "personalities" out of their drivers and for those fans who go on a regular basis, this may help to distinguish one from the other.  But for the first time fan, or even the occasional fan, I think they sit there and have no clue, and eventually they feel like they just don't get it...  and end up leaving with the attitude of "Why would anyone come here and just watch a bunch of cars go round and round?"

Would having body styles that fans could instantly relate to (even without knowing who was driving) help improve the excitement and enjoyment level?  I think so.

Would it bring out the fans in such numbers that it would be worth the additional time and inconvenience incurred by the raceteams by having to fabricate their bodies? 

I guess the answer to that partially depends on which side of the fence you watch the races from!

I sure would like to see it given a chance before somebody shuts the light off for good.

08/02/06 Jan Games I couldn't agree more with you guys about the state of modern modified racing. I seldom attend regular shows any more because I just can't relate to all of that aluminum siding. I still believe the idea that we've discussed before about using modern compact bodies on mods would fly and the fans would enjoy it.

My racing love are the old modifieds as raced by the Midstate Vintage Stock Car Club in upstate NY. This is not exhibition racing...these guys go at it as hard as anyone! Some of the cars have original frames, but the bulk have
obsolete Troyer, Kneisel and other chassis with coupe, coach, Pinto, Gremlin or any other pre '75 tin on them. One of these cars can be built for the price of a decent Street Stock.

I was at Genessee Speedway in Batavia Saturday night for the Doc Smith Memorial race and it was suddenly 1973
again! Even though the show rained out, watching 'real' modifieds broadsliding the turns on a tacky 1/3rd mile bullring in hot laps was well worth the drive from Ohio.

I'm wound up enough about racing with Midstate that I now own two old mods. One is a '37 Chevy coach reputedly from eastern PA that Joe has posted on this site. The other is a restored Gremlin bodied modified with a 292 Chevy 6 that I bought from a garage in Western Pa for $800! I'm prepping it for the Doc Smith Memorial rain date now.

If a smart promotor would add this type of modified to his regular show, I'd bet the bank that the old timers would come back to the track in droves and the kids would love 'em!

Jan Games
08/02/06 3Wide The NJ State Police regulate racing here in NJ, so I'm not sure what the rules are like regarding frames and cages. 

I think belts can be no older than 2 years and fuel cells are required.  I would hate to see someone get seriously hurt in a car that could have been safer.  (I do know some guys that want to keep their car totally original, which is ok with me as long as they don't put themself in others in a postion of liability by driving it under race conditions without utilizing all available safety equipment that is available to today's racers.

I think it could work as long as the guys were as concerned about safety as they are about going fast!
08/09/06 PM Safety - Now you did it! You've got my attention!

Modifieds aren't as attractive as they once were? New Jersey State police regulate Safety in N.J.? There is a common denominator here that I never hear anyone make reference to....It's METHANOL!

When I first went to the races in the early 60's, one of the things that made modifieds modifieds to me was the flames out of the exhaust and the smell of methanol. Remember the 707 in the corners at Flemington? That was memorable! Later, when I started racing myself, I ran methanol because: 1. If you ran methanol, you didn't need a fuel cell. 2. The motor A: ran cooler, B: lasted longer, and C: made more power. But most importantly, I knew that no matter how bad I crashed, I'd never end up like Jim Klemm, or the Earnhardt wreck in his Corvette. And he HAD a fuel cell!

How the rules ever morphed into outlawing methanol for modifieds puzzles me. I know who and why, the part I don't understand is why the drivers and the fans accepted it! But the irritating part of this is that while claiming to be interested in driver safety, the ruling organization for modifieds OUTLAWED methanol!

If they really cared about us, they would outlaw GASOLINE in race cars! Then we could SAVE money by not needing fuel cells, trick radiators, and frequent "freshening" of motors!

If anyone feels that this thinking is flawed, please elaborate! P.S.: Anyone remember the "Alcohol is for racing, Gasoline is for getting there" "T" shirts that used to be around in the 60's and 70's, when this wasn't even an issue? That says it all! The promoter that outlawed alcohol should have been thinking more about the racers, fans, and modified racing in general, and less about his series sponsor. (SUNOCO!) Your turn!

08/09/06 3Wide Honesly, not being a competitor myself, I never really thought about the gasoline vs methanol question.  I do know that they both make cars go fast, and that both are flamable.

I do remember seeing Mike Mosley at Indy around 1971 or 72 jump out of his racecar and running across the track where he began rolling in the grass on fire with the invisible flames from what I think was methanol (not really sure).  I was also at Indy when Swede Savage had his horific accident, where the car disentagrated after hitting the inside wall at turn 4.  Swede died about a month from complications related to the burns received.

I also was at Flemington when "Frank" Klem had the terrible flip and fire that Pete is referring to above.  That was unimaginable to watch as it seemed like forever that we stood and watched the flames coming out of the side window while the car laid there on its roof, knowing that there was still a man inside the car.  For those of you who weren't there, Frank did get out and survived the wreck, but received some very serious burns as a result.

So as far as gas vs methanol, I really don't have an opinion, but I do value the opinion of someone who has raced, or who currently races.  My mention of safety above is consistent with this thought.

As much as I'd like to see Sportsman cars be able to run stock appearing steel bodies, and as much as I think it could help our sport, I would never want it to happen if the competitors truly believe that using them would compromise their safety in any way.
08/10/06 PM Sorry about that, Joe......I did mean "Frank". I guess I had "Jim" on the mind because of my old buddy Jimmy KLIM! Remember that 747 he built that looked like a funny car?

The point about alcohol is that it is on the opposite end of the burning spectrum as gasoline. Alcohol burns so weakly and non-violently that one danger is that in the daytime you can't even see it burn! Eventually, it will burn you, especially if you're trapped, or can't escape it for some reason.

In ANY case, though, you have a MUCH better chance of escaping an alcohol fire than you do a gasoline fire! "That's all it is", to quote Glenda, the good witch!

10/29/06 Ned One only needs to ask Frankie Schneider about this. In 1955 he survived a crash and fire at Vineland Speedway. He always mentions that if he were running gasoline he may have not survived or his injuries would have been much worse. I miss that part of racing. Alcohol and racing are like meat and potatoes.

It's probably the same reason we didn't use it in street cars all of those years, someone has been making lots of money from oil products. When they figure out how to charge an enormous price for it, we may use it in our cars as well.

All Previous Editions of: "Something to Think About..."
"Putting Competition Back into Qualifying - The "Top Half Advance" Qualifying Method"
"This Time, It's an Inside Job"
"What Are We They Expecting?"
"Is The Problem Really Under the Hood?"
"The Best View..."
"Local Boys Have at It?"
'Are You Going to the Races Tonight?"
"The Bigger The Bodies, The Smaller The Attendance?"

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