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Wing Side Up Archive: 1994 ISMA Winternationals Preview, Supermodified Survey

Notes from Bobby G.:

This is a pretty long Wing Side Up column because MARC Times Racing News published once a month during the winter and there was plenty to talk about before the February issue went to press.

The main focus of this Wing Side Up column is the International Supermodified Association Total Seal Winternationals that was held at Volusia County Speedway. This was one of several southern supermodified shows that ISMA did over the years in Florida. There is a good history of the supermodifieds racing in that state as NESMRA set the trend even earlier.  I never did make it down there, but my mom and dad went to just about everyone one they had and would send back information and updates via long-distance phone calls.

There’s many details that may seem boring, but I think it’s kind of cool to see how ISMA changed up the formats and kept things pretty fair for the drivers that were not ISMA regulars. Of course the rulebook didn’t change and as there still is today, there was flack to be had over the west coast supermodifieds having to make weight and left side percentages.

At the end of the whole deal you’ll find the first Wing Side Up Super Survey. It’s somewhat amateurish, but I think you’ll see that I felt it was very important to understand the die-hard fan as well as the casual reader. Somewhere I’ve got the results that people mailed in and I’ll post some of the letters I got after this column ran.

Even though it’s 21 years later, you can have some fun with it and fill in the survey below the Wing Side Up column post.

This Wing Side Up Archive Column  was written for the January, 1994 edition of MARC Times Racing News. We have crossed through the old address, website and phone number. BG

Wing Side Up

By Bob Gangwer


January, 1994 – Goshen, IN…It’s hard to believe that, while some of us will be left to practice our Arctic survival methods in the midst of this horrid Midwest weather, many lucky race fans will be heading to the Sunshine State for the International Supermodified Association’s Total Seal Winternationals which is just over a month away.

Once again this year it looks as if I will be one of those unlucky few who must be content to get race reports long distance. Try as I might, unless I get a call from Ed McMahon and Dick Clark within the next couple of weeks, I’ll be pacing the floor of the living room in anticipation of a phone call, rather than the infield of Volusia awaiting the scream of 24 supers rounding turn four for the drop of the green flag.

However, even though my state of affairs isn’t the greatest, I shan’t allow my misfortune to interfere with my promise to give you a preview of who and what you can expect if you are heading south.

Whole Lotta Supermodified Racin’ Goin’ On-

Things get kicked off on Monday, February 14th with a standard ISMA show. In following regular ISMA rules, the drivers will draw for heat race starting positions. The top six from each ten lap heat will then advance to the 30 lap feature. The top four from each heat will redraw for their feature starting positions. Those who don’t make it out of their heat will have another shot in the consi where they will start straight up from their heats, but will have to finish in the top six to advance.

Everyone heads to the beach on Tuesday and will return to the track on Wednesday, the 16th, for another shot at glory in a 30 lap feature event. This night will see a time trial system implemented with the fast eight being locked into the feature. The guy who gets fast time will draw a number, (1-8), to decide the inversion of the feature. Three ten lap heats will transfer 12 drivers to the main event and starting positions will be straight up from time trials. The consi will also transfer four from a straight up start based on their heat race finish.

Back to the track on Thursday for more action. Everyone will draw for their starting place in the heats. The top six move on to the main, with the top four being handicapped by money won from the previous two shows. Heats will once again be a short ten laps and the consi lineup will be straight up from the heat finishes and will transfer a lucky six to the 40 lap finale.

Then on the last day of macadam mayhem on Friday, the top eight qualifiers head to the feature and will be inverted according to the money won system. Three heats are straight up ten lap affairs that transfer four to the main with the rest of the 24 again from the consi. Then it’s “momma grab your children, Katie bar the door,” time as the supers put it all on the line for the FLorida fans in their 50 lap shootout.

ISMA Fan Friendly But Fork Over the Money-

In order to involve the spectators as much as possible, as well as to familiarize newcomers to the men most of us call heroes, all redraws will be held in a ceremony taking place at the start/finish line, and interviews will be given by several drivers each night.

Ticket prices for the front door range from $18 for Monday’s 30 lapper to $22 for the final night’s 50. If you want to get closer to the action you’re going to pay for it. For non-NASCAR members it’s between $22 and $25 each night. IF you have that coveted piece of plastic in your hand, (your NASCAR license), it really only saves you a couple bucks. So either way, you might as well plan on laying down some dough.

Times, Sleeping Arrangements, Contacts-

If you want to catch all of the actions here’s the timetable: Monday: Pits-2pm, Grandstands-4pm, Practice-5-6:30pm and Racing at 7. Wednesday: Pits-3pm, Front Door-5pm, Hot Laps-5 to 6:30pm, Racing goes off at 7. Wednesday: Pits-3pm, Front Door-5, Hot Laps 5-6:30 again, Racing goes off at 7. Then make sure you don’t get too wild after the races on Hump Day because on Thursday the pits open at 11am, and the grandstand at 3pm. Practice runs from 5 to 6:30 again and racing starts at 7. For Friday it’s Pits-11am, Stands-1pm, Practice 5-6;30 and racing of course at 7.

The official hotel and race headquarters for the week is the Florida Palms Resort. I’m very sure, after talking with several of you out there planning on making the trek, that there is no vacancy. As far as where you could find a place to lay your head anywhere else, I’d guess that at this stage of the game, the beach would be a safe bet. Besides if my intuition serves me, I don’t doubt that some of you will be found there anyway after a rough night out on the town.

For those of you unfamiliar with the battlefield, it’s 15 miles west of I-95 at 1500 East Highway 40, officially in De Leon Springs. It’s a ½ mile semi banked track that Pat Abold has turned faster than anybody else with a 13.59 sec. run last year. You can reach Volusia County Speedway 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday by calling (904) 985-4402 or (904) 255-2243.

Silly Season Oswego Speedway Teams-

Definitely a bunch of racing to look forward to. Now here’s a semi-definite, almost certain, somewhat possible list of who you can expect to see doing all that racing.

Oswego Speedway will again be sending the biggest share of it’s drivers down and I doubt where there will be any big surprises.

There are a couple of driver/car changes of note from the Port City that you may or may not see in Florida. Jerry Curran has officially been relieved of his driving duties in the Pat Strong #99. Mike Osite will be settling into the driver’s seat for the new season.

Taking over the reigns of the car that took Osite to the 1993 Oswego Rookie of the Year title, (the Bruce Budnick #88), will probably be Dave Thomas as he appeared in the car a couple of times in late season ISMA shows last year. For Florida however, Fulton’s Mike Muldoon will do the honors.

Pat Abold has sold one of his cars to Oswego limited champion Russ Brown and is in the process of building another one.

Jeff West is busy building cars for several drivers, including one for Howard Page’s former sponsor, Art McManus who will apparently become a driver this year. Lionel Earl sold his Gibson chassis roadster to Mark Hartman, (who formerly drove Steve Miller’s ‘Sweet 16’), awhile back but no one is sure what the team’s status is.

Another one of Steve Miller’s former drivers Dean Hoag will no longer be piloting a super at Oswego Speedway. Instead he will be at the controls of Jim Paternoster’s limited for ‘94.

Last year at Classic, a disgruntled Joe Gosek told me that he was tired of the supermodifieds and wanted to go the Indy Lights route. But as of yet, he hasn’t made a move in that direction that we’re aware of, and it’s a safe wager that you’ll see ‘Double O Joe’ at Volusia. Whether it be in his own car or the new Graves he purchased last season is not certain.

It will be interesting to see what the Eddie Bellinger car will look like. Miller brewing has closed their Fulton plant which has put several thousand people out of work, and, I figure, Eddie B. in search of a new sponsor for the Graves house.

Who’s Going From New England-

Without talking to anyone way out East, it’s hard to say who’ll show from Star and Lee. Names like Boisvert, Witkum, Douglas, and Simard might be on the roster. With the fine performances Justin Belfiore and Chris Perley had last year down there, as well as the season as a whole, I’d plan on them being there. Joey Moriarty is a definite. Especially since he now has two cars at his disposal, not to mention that his old man is the one putting all the money into this thing.

The Buckeye State Representatives-

The Ohio contingent will be represented by Dave Shullick, and Joe Grunda for sure. Doug Saunier will also be there but not behind the wheel of the familiar #22. The family operation has sold their mount to the Lichty brothers of Canada. Patriarch, Don Saunier, has received half of the payment already and is slated to pick up the rest after son Doug drives for the Lichty’s in Florida. Doug’s brother Terry has the left the Buckeye State for a job at Joe Gibbs Racing where he is now working in the engine shop. The trailer, parts and engines stay for sale and would make a good buy for someone in the need, as the Saunier’s always had a first class operation. At this point Doug doesn’t have a permanent ride for the season, but we’re sure that this enormous talent won’t be sitting idle too long.

Jim Shirey says that he is slightly behind schedule on his Bodnar designed roadster and is hoping to get the car done in time for the Florida Series. Jim’s dad Dick underwent hernia surgery and upon stitching him up the doctors somehow got a nerve ending caught up in the sutures, causing his recovery to take longer than expected. Dick is fine now and is diligently working on the new front suspension that the Race Race America team will be debuting this season. Jim informs me that they cut the front end off the car and have added a cantilever front suspension similar in design to the one on Dave Shullick’s ride. Jim feels that this should be the icing on the cake for this particular car and says he’s “very happy with the way it’s coming along.” Jim is also excited about his new engine program for the season. Deciding, as Jim put it, “to stop spinning our wheels,” he will be going with a Myles engine that is expected to be ready before the end of the month. He will also have a spare ready that he built late last season.

Gene Gibson will not be in attendance as he is in the process of building a new and buying up new parts to replace the old ones that caused him so much trouble last season.

No word from the Dave Stacy/Harold Stickney camp. Last we heard, the anticipated Dave Bodnar designed chassis that Stacy had hoped to have for ‘94 is no longer an option after the Gerold/Shullick/Bodnar team decided better of it. We hope this doesn’t mean that Dave won’t be back this year as we would really miss this ever improving speedster.

We assume that Denny Fisher will go down, but we don’t know about John Dirk, who might show up with either Pat Shullick or Bruce Robey at the wheel.

Frank Pavia has sold his car to a customer of Garry Griffith’s who owns boats. While unsure about a Florida debut for this new team, we’ve heard that a lot of work is going on with the car that we understand Griff will continue to drive.

Left Coast Left Out-

From out West? Your guess is as good as mine. I say Davey Hamilton for sure because he drives a car that’s already ISMA legal. How many others will attempt to make weight, off-set, engine and left side bias rules remains to be seen. The only other ones I would even remotely count is Rebel Jackson, Jr. and maybe “Flyin’” Brian Schaffer.

Sandusky Speedway Turmoil Again-

That pretty much covers the Winternationals preview. As far as what else is going on in the supermodified world, there’s plenty and some of it is of a rather delicate nature. While I haven’t as yet been officially notified, and have yet to do any serious digging on my own, through the grapevine I have heard that Mike Calinoff is no longer associated with Sandusky Speedway. Sandusky will continue to run a weekly program with the supers hopefully racing ten of those weeks. I don’t have a ton of details, but I do know that there will be a meeting held on February 5th to discuss the situation further and to decide on rules and a schedule for the supers. I feel like this development deserves a more in-depth study than what I have had time to give it as of yet, and while you may read the full details somewhere else sooner, I’ll try to see what I can dig up for next month.

On a Brighter Note-

Of course the Copper World Classic will soon be here and of course I’ll once again miss out on this superfest too. I know going to Phoenix is going to be just like the first trip to the Big O. My dad and I talked about heading out there for years upon end, and every year Classic would come and go without nary a  Gangwer in attendance. Then one year dad just decided that this was it and in a matter of what now seems like days we were in that trusty brown Econoline headed eastbound on I-80/90 and we haven’t missed a Classic since. So one year, real soon I hope, dad will call up and say let’s do it and we’ll be westbound out of O’Hare for the desert and our last real conquest: The Copper World Classic.

The Wing Side Up Super Survey-

Last month I promised something a little special and it’s time to deliver. Everyone I know likes to sit around with a bunch of friends,  a bag of chips and cold brew to go around, reminiscing about our favorite drivers, tracks, race, etc. Invariably the conversation gets around to the state of the sport and what each one of us would do if, in some stroke of God-like fate, we were put into a position where someone would actually listen to our ideas.

We might not always agree with what someone else has to say, but as the cold ones start to take their mellowing effect, we are more than tolerant enough to let a fellow ‘diplomat’ voice his/her opinion and after contemplating the nature of the statement, bring forth our own solution which has a slightly different twist to it.

What I’m trying to say is, we all have ideas and opinions about what would help the nature of the division in this area, yet seldom are we ever really able to voice them to those that truly need to hear it. Now I’m giving you guys the chance. I’ve come up with a survey of sorts that, when the results are compiled, will help me to better understand what it is that should be done to bolster the supers. I’m not saying that this is going to be the cure-all, but maybe if I can show certain key people what it is that the fans want and/or like, I can do my part to help out.

 So here it is, the Wing Side Up Super Survey. Have fun with it and let’s hope that the results will be put to good use.

  1. Name:
  2. Age(optional):
  3. Full Address:
  4. Occupation:
  5. Marital Status:
  6. Tell us about the first time you saw a supermodified race and where:
  7. What factor appealed to you the most that day?
  8. Are you a casual follower or a die-hard “super groupie”?
  9. Who is your favorite current super driver and why?
  10. Who is your all-time favorite super driver and why?
  11. What is your favorite track that the supers currently race at?
  12. What is your all-favorite track that you’ve seen the supers at?
  13. What new or different venue would you most like to see the supers run at and why?
  14. Where did you see your favorite super show of this past season(1993)?
  15. What made this race your favorite?
  16. Where did you see your least favorite super show of this previous season(1993)?
  17. What made this race so unpleasant?
  18. Tell us about your all-time worse experience at a supermodified race:
  19. How many miles annually do you travel to see the supers?
  20. How many super races did you make it to this past year?
  21. Where were they held at?
  22. How many supers shows do you plan on taking in this season?
  23. What is the most important factor that influences your decision to take in a super show?
  24. What is your opinion of the ISMA schedule and race day procedures?
  25. What style of supermodified if your favorite(east or west coast style) and why?
  26. Would you rather see the supers with wings or without?
  27. What other forms of racing do you like to see at a super show?
  28. In your opinion, what would make the supers more entertaining?
  29. In your opinion, what would make the supers more appealing to a major series sponsors?
  30. What will it take to make this division survive?

OK gotta cut this thing off before Dick does. Before I go Happy Birthday to my good buddy and president of the Gene Lee Gibson Fan Club (New York Chapter), Mike Tynan. Also a heft of a Silver Bullet to that crazy Canuck, Mark Hunter who starts his new job with Steve Horne in Columbus the 15th of February. Way to go bud!

Send all completed surveys to Super Survey ℅ Bob Gangwer 18234 CR 22 Goshen, IN 46526. Until next month “Keep It Wing Side Up and Wheels to the Ground.”

Were you at the 1994 ISMA Total Seal Winternationals? Leave a comment below to share those memories with everyone and feel free to take the 1994 Wing Side Up Super Survey



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