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The cars are the stars: Stock car racing

In the first installment of this series on the various types of race cars predominately raced at the five local area race tracks, I introduced the Pure Stock division.

In the first installment of this series on the various types of race cars predominately raced at the five local area race tracks, I introduced the Pure Stock division.

This time, for convenience' sake I will concentrate on the open wheel classes. By open wheel, I mean they have no fenders and are called Modifieds.

Two classes of Modifieds run at most of the local tracks: the Midwest Modifieds and, for lack of a better term, the "big" Modifieds. Both use the same chassis rules, body rules, tire and wheel rules, fuel cell, etc., but the big difference is in the engine/transmission package as well as fuel. The "big" Modified runs either a spec engine or a larger displacement engine. The larger displacement engine is subject to a claim rule while the spec engine is not.

In the Midwest Modified division, specific engines are used, such as 305 & 307 CID Chevrolet engines, 318 CID Chrysler engines and 302 CID Ford engines. These are called small engines. The Midwest Modifieds are also allowed to use the big engines -- 350 CID Chevy and 351 Ford. Also the Midwest Modified is only allowed an OEM automatic transmission with working torque converter.

The differences in the two types of Modifieds also extends to fuel and aspiration. The "big" Modifieds are allowed to use either racing gasoline or Alcohol (methanol) run through a single two or four barrel carburetor, while the Midwest Modifieds use a single two barrel carburetor.

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The "big" engines must use only gasoline while the small engines are allowed racing fuel or an ethanol/gasoline mix with no more than 98 percent ethanol. The "big" Modified spec engines are allowed to be 0-362 CID and the big engines are 0-410 CID.

The body/frame rules are identical in either Modified division, and specify a full roll cage of specific type, thickness and diameter tubing. The bodywork is specified as any 1970 or newer compact passenger body. In the early days actual automobile subcompact bodies were used, but now the bodywork must at least resemble one of those compact passenger car bodies and are constructed out of aluminum sheets.

Of course the Modified has no front fenders and hasa metal hood and nose piece with the sides of the engine compartment open. Frames must be 1960 or newer full parallel frames with a fabricated frame allowed in the rear. Front suspension must be steel and unaltered with the exception of tubular upper control arms. Rear suspension must also be of steel construction, but parts may be fabricated.

Transmissions must have a working clutch with a working reverse, while the rear end must be any passenger car or truck stock appearing rear end.

Tires and wheels are the same for both divisions. Most tracks in the area run under the WISSOTA AMSOIL Dirt Track Series, and thus use tires and steel wheels specified by the sanctioning body rules. Tires are Hoosier Racing tires in three compounds (wheels must be WISSOTA approved, stamped and stickered).

I mentioned a claim rule on the 410 CID engines which means that drivers finishing 6-12 in the feature event can claim the motor of any car finishing 1-5 in the feature. The claim by the driver only must be stated to officials prior to the event.

All that has been written here is just a bare bones sketch of the WISSOTA Modified. The complete rules for these divisions can be found on the WISSOTA Web site.

Briefly, the Modified was first brought to this area by Don Stodola, an official at the Rice Lake Speedway, using rules taken from the IMCA Modified in Vinton, Iowa back in the late 1970s. The class was first invented by the late Keith Knaack, who also founded the Hawkeye Racing News.

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The reason this class, known at the Rice Lake Speedway as a Modified Sportsman, was started was because it definitely had a different look, and there were too many look-alike classes whose numbers were beginning to diminish.

The class spread throughout the area, and in 1985 the WISSOTA Promoters Association sanctioned them. In the present day there are more than 600 of the "Big" Modifieds and well over 700 of the Midwest Modifieds racing under the WISSOTA banner, which encompasses six states and two Canadian provinces with nearly 50 race tracks sanctioning one or more of the six sanctioned divisions.

The next installment of this series on local stock car racing will feature the fendered divisions, the Super Stock and Late Model classes.

Jerry O'Brien covers local racing for the Daily Telegram. He can be reached by e-mail at jfobrien@charter.net .

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