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Wing Side Up Archive: Sandusky Speedway SOLD!

The last part of 1999 was somewhat tumultuous for the North Coast Home of the Supermodifieds-Sandusky Speedway. I had come be very close to the Buchannon’s while they ran the track for owner Bentley Warren. To this day, I believe that they were the best promoters that speedway has had since Larry Boos.

You’ll also find information on the beginnings of what is now known as the Midwest Supermodified Association. The MSA morphed out of the Championship Supermodified Association which morphed out of the “Supermodified Series” started at Mansfield Speedway. Isn’t it interesting that Mansfield is going to start back up again in 2015 and that ISMA had a tentative Cayuga date on the 2015 schedule? Isn’t it also interesting that it’s taken ISMA 15 years since this column was written to get on board with a gear rule, while Oswego has had one forever and the group talked about in this column saw the benefit back then?

On the other side of the country, Davey Hamilton started the Supermodified Racing League which came out of the ashes of the old NSRA, USAC Supermodifieds, SMRA, and WSMRA. That’s a whole lot of acronyms and to this date there still isn’t a solid program out west. Curt Kern with the NSRA and Davey with the SRL had it going pretty good, but as always, egos got in the way and both groups were destroyed from a supermodified standpoint. The SRL continues on as a late model sanction while the NSRA keeps on rolling as a sprint car sanction in the Northwest.

This Wing Side Up Archive column  originally appeared in MARC Times Racing News on January 10, 2000 as well as on the original Wing Side Up website at the same time. We have crossed through the old address, website and phone number. BG

Wing Side Up

By Bob Gangwer

01/10/00 Goshen, IN…Back in the saddle again, so to speak. We figured that we might as well start Y2K like last year, with all the intentions of writing a weekly column for this fine racing trade paper.

So much news to pass along that we may be hard pressed to get all in here.

We suppose that the most notable piece of news about our area would be the sale of Sandusky Speedway to Kevin Bonnema, and Don Arnold. While Bonnema’s purchase of the speedway is seen by some as a new lease on life, we are sad to see Jr. and Kathy Buchanan leaving as promoters. We have always declared for all that chose to listen, how much we appreciated their dedication, long hours and honesty in making a wholehearted attempt to resurrect the ailing speedplant.

After many years of horrible mismanagement by those who came before them, the Buchanans poured their heart, soul; time and much of their own savings account into the fabled Ohio track. With their backs against the wall, they faced what seemed to be a never-ending battle with a track that had earned a reputation for not giving the fans, competitors, or corporate sponsors their monies worth. While we are sad to see them go, we wish them a cheery WSU pat on the back along with good luck tidings.

A New Group-

As supermodified fans, the seemingly bad news doesn’t end with the termination of the Buchannon reign at Sandusky. Sandusky will now race on Friday nights and will run the supers only once a month according to their schedule. Nationals are included as one of those dates.

On top of all of this, is the news of a newly formed group based out of Mansfield called simply “Supermodified Series”. An advisory board has been elected that includes; Brad Booth, Jeff Capretto, Chuck Jackson, Bill Kovacs, Rusty Ryan, Jim Shirey, Dave Shullick, and Sean Sauer, who will serve as an alternate.

As of now the group has only set a few rules down. Those include one that allows only big blocks weighing 1850 pounds and sporting 481 C.I. engines as the norm. Sprint cars will be allowed to run also, we presume to pad the car count. Seems that allowing small blocks would do the same thing.

A gear rule will be enforced and only two new tires per night can be put on the car.

This new series is putting together the rest of the rulebook and a schedule that will be released later. We hope that Sandusky and Lorain County will be included on the schedule, although we have serious doubts due to the conflicts between the various parties involved.

Another New Group-

On the other end of the country, Davey Hamilton has started a “league of his own”, so to speak. According to a press release, “The Supermodified Racing League is a vision of Indy Racing League veteran Davey Hamilton.” It is through Hamilton’s involvement in supermodified racing for almost two decades that has now brought him to the promotional level of the sport.”

Hamilton stated in the press release that, “Our goal is to rededicate and refocus on the core of Supermodified Racing”. The newly formed SRL wishes to structure the series around the drivers and teams, as well as develop a program that is lucrative to the promoters as well.

The SRL will hold it’s first race of their inaugural season at the 23rd annual Copper World Classic held at Phoenix International Speedway’s one-mile oval. This race is one of the most lucrative events a super driver can win and will be held February 3-6. We hope to be able to meet one of our long time goals and make it out to Arizona for this speedfest which also includes the USAC Midgets, Silver Bullet Division, and NASCAR Southwest tour.

Speaking of Davey, congratulations are due for the new addition to the Hamilton family. Hailey Shea Hamilton was born on November 6th, 1999.

ISMA Goes West-

We have great news for super groupies in our immediate area. ISMA will venture to the Midwest three times this year. The first two dates will be in June. The supers will run their customary 50-lap show at Berlin on the 17th, and a 75-lap affair will take place at Galesburg the following night. We have questioned several people about the Galesburg show for some obvious reasons. The major one being that this leaves no rain date open.

The third visit will be to M-40 Motorsports Arena for a two-day show on October 7th and 8th. Like Galesburg the feature will be 75 laps. Again we worry about not having a rain date available, especially that late in the season, after all look at what happened at the Fall Open Nationals.

Also somewhat close to home for a few MARC Times readers are the ISMA dates at Cayuga. The Lichty brothers and Gary Evans have purchased this well liked Canadian venue and hope to rejuvenate the supers north of the border by hosting the winged warriors on July 1st and August 6th. Both will be 50 lap shows.

Oh we have so many more things to tell you but we are going to cut it short and put this one to bed for now. Make sure you come back next month to see if we stay true to our New Year’s Resolution. Not holding your breath are you? That’s ok because you can email us you’re your views on our lax writing to That’s the best way to get in touch with us for now.

We have learned not to promise what is in store for the next edition, because it usually ends up jinxing us! Besides this adds a little drama and mystique to never-ending quest to “Keep It Wing Side Up and Wheels to the Ground”. Joey Payne if you are reading this I stayed true to my word on this one! The Jersey Cessna will know what that means.

Do you remember these supermodified happenings? Join the conversation below and let us know your thoughts!


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