Notes from Bobby G.:
As the February 2002 issue of MARC Times was going to press there was a lot of talk about the ISMA, MSA and Oswego Speedway schedules. On the other side of the country, there was talk about the SRL and SRL Lites schedules, but it wasn’t as positive. Here we are posting this in February of 2015, and well, as much as things change…
We led off with the big news about the formation of the USA group based in Oswego. It was a noble gesture, but as hard as they tried, the USA deal fell through. Not before Jerry Curran got a win at Adirondack though.
As is the case in 2015, the Shullick and Payne names were in the news. Shoe 2 made us look foolish when he stuck around with the Stout team for a long time after leaving Kovacs and Joey Payne was without a ride after the team he was driving for ‘scaled’ back. Oh and Joe Gillingham never did get a new chassis.
This Wing Side Up Archive Column was written for the February 18, 2002 edition of MARC Times Racing News. We have crossed through the old address, website and phone number. BG
Wing Side Up
By Bob Gangwer
February 18, 2002 – Goshen, IN…With a stiff shot of java, a new hard drive and the rousing shouts of several avid super fans, the deep sleep of our winter solstice has come to a close and it’s time to forget the worsening carpel tunnel to bring you our first edition of WSU for the new season.
Probably one of the biggest stories in the off-season has come from Upstate New York. No, it’s not from the “Silver Lady” more commonly known as Oswego Speedway either.
We’re not sure what to jump for joy or quake with trepidation, but another supermodified sanction body has been formed. It is called the United Supermodified Association or USA, will be for non-wing supers, and has many quality people involved.
Consisting mainly of Oswego Speedway car owners, the new group will be a car owner’s organization similar to ISMA where points will go to the owner as he works his way toward a championship.
The newly elected officers of the USA are Vern LaFave-President, Denny Snyder-Vice-President, and Shirley Letcher-Secretary-Treasurer. A board of directors was elected with those seats going to former ISMA President, Steve Gioia, Jr., Howard Page, and Pat Strong.
Additionally further race day and peripheral personnel have been put in place with John Tebbetts being elected Race Director, Jason Rinoldo-Assistant Race Director, Jerry Rich-Chief Pit Steward, Dave Brigandi-Pit Steward, Danny Johnson-PR Director, and Mike Johnson, ( of Pinner’s BnG website fame), Internet Coordinator.
A rules and safety committee is being formulated and will be in place sometime this winter. The sanctioning body is requesting that anyone wishing to be involved with either or both committees should contact President Vern LaFave at (315) 642-5522, Vice President Denny Snyder at (315) 343-7471 and/or Sect./Treas. Shirley Letcher at (315) 656-3521. Pinner, Jason Rinoldo and Brian Sweeney are working on a web site for the new organization, while former supermod pilot Justin Belfiore has created a new logo for the sanctioning body.
As this will be an Owners’ Club, registration fees will be $25.00 per car with points going to the car owner. A membership of $20.00 is available for Drivers and all others that wish to be involved with this club. For more information, contact USA Racing, P.O. Box 127, Kirkville, NY 13082 or contact one of the officers.
The owners present at the first organizational meeting agreed to pursue Adirondack Speedway for three shows; May 18, June 8 and September 14, but not the July 27 date which would conflict with Harbor Fest but more importantly for super fans, it would be against ISMA’s annual trek to Sandusky for Nationals. President Vern LaFave was instructed to pursue other tracks for the July date. However, to date only one show at Adirondack has been booked.
The new non-winged organization formed to supplement the Oswego schedule and to provide additional shows in the New York State area. They will not book an event that conflict with the Oswego Speedway schedule. Additional shows will make it more feasible to own a supermodified and the goal is to maintain a full field at every show. Additional shows will increase track time, which will improve driving skills of the current drivers and encourage new drivers to the supermodified division. The Association will use Oswego Speedway supermodified rules with exceptions as deemed necessary by the USA Racing Rules Committee.
Variety at The Big O
With that said, we found it very amusing to have received a call from Gene Lee Gibson concerning the Oswego Speedway rulebook. Apparently, after talking with Joe Gillingham recently, Gene learned that Oswego had changed their engine rules. He explained to us that he decided to check it out on his own and after browsing through the online version of the rulebook, he discovered, to his delight that the rules had indeed been changed. Ford and Chrysler blocks and heads will be allowed.
Did we miss something? Seems like this would be big news that everyone would love to hear, but so far, not much has been said. We think that it won’t do much to begin with but may encourage someone who is a die-hard Ford or Chrysler fan or business owner to think about starting a team. Of course, it may also help drivers and owners find sponsorship with these companies’ related businesses. For the most part thought we think that it will be a gradual thing and that many will take a wait, see approach unless someone comes out of the box, and is immediately superior to the GM products.
Oswego has released their 2002 schedule and the gates will open for the 52nd consecutive year on May 4 for an open practice session with the first race being the annual Coca-Cola Kickoff a week later. The season will culminates after twelve race dates including the 46th Annual Budweiser International Classic 200 held on August 30-September 1, with the 52nd Annual Sunoco Race of Champions for modifieds.
A Robust ISMA Schedule
Meanwhile ISMA has introduced what we consider their most proactive schedule in recent years. Featuring 19 race dates over 11 weekends from May to October the addition of two new tracks and travel to 7 states and Canada, they will bring the roar of winged supers to more fans than ever.
The season kicks off on May 4 with a 50-lap affair at Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire and ends October 19 at the 29th Annual Thompson, (CT), International Speedway World Series of Pavement racing 50-lap feature.
For the first time, ISMA will visit the rejuvenated Chemung, (NY), Speedway on May 24 and the beautiful and ever improving Adirondack, (NY), Speedway on August 4.
This season will again feature the wildly successful Midwest Madness Swing on Friday, June 14 at the wicked fast high banks of Toledo, (OH), Speedway and Saturday, June 15 on the big oval at Berlin, (MI), Speedway.
The two Canadian Swings will be held again at Kawartha, (ONT), Downs Speedway and Cayuga, (ONT), 2000 Speedway. The first weekend is Friday & Saturday, July 12th and 13th, the second is later in the year on September 13 and 14th.
Oswego shows up twice on the schedule. The Jim Shampine Memorial, (formerly the Richie Evans Memorial, ahh the days of the mods…), is a joint wing/non-wing affair with a 50-lap feature for ISMA and the Oswego Regulars on May 25. The second of course is the ISMA SuperNationals Classic Weekend.
Seekonk, (MA), is back on May 5 with a 75 lapper, as is Oxford Plains, (ME), with the second Annual ISMA Maine Classic 100 on August 17.
Ohio’s home of the supers, Sandusky Speedway has one weekend this year, but it’s the hugely popular and always unpredictable Hy-Miler Supermodified Nationals. This year the 25th Annual installment of this prestigious race is held over the weekend of July 26th-27th. Let’s hope we get to enjoy another wonderful Old Timers Reunion again this year. It was a great touch last year and the best one Randy Wynne has organized to date.
Epping, New Hampshire’s Star Speedway has just one show, but it’s ISMA’s longest grind and one of the oldest traditions on the schedule. The Star Speedway Classic 200 will be held this year as always the weekend after the Oswego Classic on September 7.
As we said the season wraps up at Thompson in the fall with an increased purse, but that does not mean that there may be more appearances of supers at other venues as several other tracks could be on the horizon. Read Nazareth next year. Again, ISMA looked south to Southern National in NC, but they can’t come up with another track for a second day of racing to make it feasible to go that far.
ISMA President Chuck Handley has said that other venues will be considered and contacted, but won’t be added just to be added. In other words-“Money talks, bullshit walks”. The high purse will be 45k at SuperNationals and Star, (which also includes lap money), with Berlin being very close at 43k. Most purses fall in the $30,000 range with the lows being $28,000 at Oswego and Adirondack. Nationals are a $62,000 purse but it is spread over two days with the 40 lapper on Friday and the 100 lapper on Saturday.
We still think that ISMA needs to be in Indiana in the month of May to fully exploit the potential for series sponsorship, and to bring the beautifully unrefined excitement of the supers to the largest fan base in one state for one month. IRP is still a dream for most teams as well as the lucky fans that got to see the East VS. West Shootout in ’94 and they would love to go back. We say no better time to go back to Winchester too as the Auto Value Super Sprints proved it could be done with wings and splendor.
West Coast Woes
While ISMA has increased their dates, the SRL has cut theirs amid complaints and concerns from teams over the great distances traveled and the money used to cross those long interstates. The twelve-race season kicks off once again on March 15 at Phoenix International Raceway’s Copper World Classic weekend and ends October 5 on The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Two shows at Altamont Speedway, (April 20 & August 24), three at Madera Speedway, (including the Vukovich Classic on May 18), and one race July 20 at Cajon gives the state of California the majority of the schedule. That seems ok, as that tends to be where most of the teams are located.
However, the SRL will still venture to other west coast pockets of the supermodified population. SRL founder Davey Hamilton’s home state of Idaho will have the SRL supers visit twice, both dates are in June. Once at Meridian Motor Speedway for the prestigious Diamond Cup and once at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls make for the trips to the potato state.
Utah gets one date at Magic Valley on June 22 while Nevada has two, one the aforementioned race at Las Vegas in October and the other at Carson-Tahoe Champion Speedway on July 6.
The SRL Lites will have six shows at Madera and there is some talk that the CAM 360 group will work with the SRL to build a non-conflicting schedule. Whether they will do it at Mesa Marin remains to be seen as there are more changes internally going on in CAM as this goes to press and they have yet to release a schedule.
MSA Spreads It’s Wings…Kind of
Moving to the Midwest Supermodified Association schedule, we see a club that has started to spread its wings somewhat. Adding two new venues and running from April 27 to October 6, MSA has wisely chosen to stay close to home for the sophomore season, except for one race.
That one race brings the supers close to home for most of the MARC Times audience and while we wonder about the reasoning behind coming this far west so early in the sanctioning body’s infancy, we are nonetheless pleased to find the MSA within the traveling probabilities of a certain dilapidated 1985 Mustang GT.
For the first time since the Fall Open Nationals of 1999, the tricky banks of M40 Motorsports Park will play host to the thunderous roar of the supers on June 1st, which added to the ISMA Midwest Madness Swing, makes a great month of June for Indiana and Michigan supermod fans.
Conspicuously absent when the MSA kicks off their season at Lorain County on April 27 is Sandusky’s Annual De-Icer. We don’t know why, but are sad to see it go and can remember when several ISMA and Oswego teams used to travel to this show for an early season tune up, although in the last 6-8 years it has been plagued with horrible weather off the shores of Lake Erie.
The tight oval of Columbus Motor Speedway joins M40 as the second new site on the MSA calendar. This flat ⅓ mile has played host to the supers in year’s gone by including being a leg of the wildly popular, but long defunct Ohio State 500 series. Of course the cars are a little faster and wider now, so there is some skepticism over the viability of this venue for producing a good show and many have voiced as much concern over this track as the ISMA guys have over Star in recent years.
We think that as long as the drivers mind their nerf bars and remember that they are driving an open wheel car, they will have a fine show. Remember, as much as we questioned and complained about ISMA going to Galesburg, in the end it was a very exciting and satisfying show for the fans.
Of course if one is to complain about Columbus being tight, they best get ready for Midvale on the 20 of July! In our recollection, this marks the third straight year of the supers being on Midvale’s schedule, so something must be right.
Sandusky and Lorain County split the rest of the dates up evenly at four a piece. Sandusky’s are May 18th, June 8th, July 6th, and one of our favorites, the Miller Lite Cavalcade the weekend of September 20-22, while The County has the opener as well as June 22nd, August 10th, and their Cavalcade October 5-6.
This year’s Copper World Classic will be somewhat less exciting for any East Coast fans traveling west because to the best of our knowledge there are no ISMA, Oswego, or MSA regulars making the long tow out there. Except for Joe Gosek in the Dunigan car, the field will be lacking that certain appeal of diversity.
A pairing that made its debut last year at Phoenix and was one that many thought would take the ISMA tour by storm has called it quits. Joey Payne has parted ways with the Boisevert’s and Doug himself has decided to park the two-car team indefinitely. The “Jersey Jet” is seriously pursuing a ride in the Featherlite Modified Tour. Additionally the outspoken super shoe has told us that he could care less if he races with ISMA again owing to some bad blood stemming from the multi-car accident at Thompson last year that took out 4-5 good cars with less than 5 laps to go.
Meanwhile Payne’s brother Johnny is looking forward to the ISMA season with renewed fervor after a busy off-season that saw him pair up with Joey Hawksby on a brand new super of Hawksby’s design. Payne will run his father’s engines and keep the older car as a spare. The always-excitable “Jerky” will be pursuing the ISMA Championship like a crazed man and we expect he will do just fine.
Also coming out of the hole with serious rejuvenation and eagerness is Dion Parish, who after parting ways with car owner Dan Nielson after a vicious crash at Sandusky last season has joined forces once again with his friend and former car owner Dan Emmons. The dynamic DD duo has nearly completed the upgrades and enhancements to the former Stickney Roadster purchased late last season. The Kalamazoo resident will be running the full MSA schedule with a potent small block assembled by Griffs and Emmons. While his fervor to get the season started is at an all time high, “Dashing Dion” has decided to take a more low-key approach to his driving and will concentrate on finishing the races as opposed to winning them. Expecting that his lowered goals will bring richer rewards and less disappointment than he has had to endure the last couple of years, he’s hoping possibly for a win and eventually a championship along the way. We know that Parish is looking forward to the M40 MSA date as that is the site of his best supermodified finish which was a top 10 at the 1999 Fall Open Nationals.
Another driver who will reunite with a former car owner in MSA is Jack Smith, who nearly won the MSA championship in ’01 and will be in the Joe Gillingham #68, which is a former Joe Gosek ride. Now we have heard that there may be a new chassis on the horizon but haven’t confirmed that report, and find it hard to believe that Gilly would do that so soon after getting back into team ownership.
In what will certainly be considered the most popular reunion this coming season, ISMA and Oswego fans will be looking forward to the appearance of supermodified legend Bentley Warren in one of Paul Dunigan’s cars. The pairing will happen on five occasions in ’02 and will include the two ISMA shows at Oswego. The other shows will most likely come on the East Coast. We sure wish he would come to Toledo and Berlin!
When the “Hippy” left the Stout team, the seat didn’t remain open long. Dave Shullick, Jr. has vacated premises at Kovacs’ Racing to fill the place in the #83. There is some question as too whether this pairing will last long enough to live up to it’s full potential, but if egos and attitudes are left at home, look for this team to be formidable. We also understand that Shullick’s legendary father is taking the season off owing to the Kovacs team is slimming down to a two-car team for the new season. Whether or not this turns out to be an “official” retirement remains, but we are sure that the “Shoe” still has many good races left.
We still have a lot left too, but we came out long and hard on this first one so we’re going to have to wait until next time to get fully up to speed with the new season. In the meantime, we are at
2 Winchester Trails Goshen, IN lamenting the demise of Speedvision with the creation of the Speed Channel a.k.a. NASCAR TV.
If you can’t catch us when you dial our new area code, 574 before the old phone number of
534-0520 it’s because we’re working on the website on http://wingsideup.tripod.com or answering emails at email@example.com.
We have to thank the recent MARC Times readers who have taken the time to check out the site and leave your name in the guest book.
Happy Birthday to our sugar pie, Taylor Gangwer, who turns 4 years old on the 19th, your smile, giggles and laughter help your dad to “Keep It Wing Side Up and Wheels to the Ground.”
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