Category Archives: On the Soapbox

Thoughts, pondering prose, praises and critiques of the supermodified world from “The Voice of the Supermodifieds” If you want to know what’s on the mind of Bobby G. this is where you’ll find it.

On the Soapbox: I’m Open to Competition, But…

We’re hoping that you all come to support this show. We firmly believe that this race can build upon the momentum…

Posted by Belfab Racing Products L.L.C. on Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This weekend marks the final supermodified race of the season and it will be held at Madera Speedway.

It’s listed as a “Run whatcha brung” open competition race similar to the one held last year and apparently also like the one held at Rocky Mountain Raceways in July.

I’ve got a long history of supporting a loosening of the rules. I’ve called for the allowance of independent suspensions, multiple engine manufacturers, and engine sizes. I worked hard with the SMRA board as well as competitors to understand and then find a way to find common ground to make the east coast cast iron big blocks competitive with the aluminum small blocks that dominate the west.

I just wanted to lay the ground work to make sure everyone understands that I’m all about competition and allowing wiggle room for teams so they don’t have to spend more money that they already don’t have. I think, especially west of the MIssissippi you have to look at what works in each pocket of the Division and utilize that to create a fair but exciting playing field.

So why can’t I get behind this particular race or the idea of open competition?

Many of you understand that I’m not in favor of regularly running open competition shows in the year 2015 and I would rather see people working to use and enforce a sensible set of rules rather than re-inventing the wheel, or,, in my opinion going backwards with no rules.

Hear me out for a minute before you start throwing your beer cans. I believe that by the nature of the beast, the idea will not only burn itself out when people start spending copious amounts of cash to outdo one another, (as long as the purse makes it worth it), but frankly, it’s hard to define what open comp truly is.

Are you going to allow a sprint car, rear engine, 1980s thin wall, small diameter tubing uprighst? Will San Jose coupes be legal?Can the CSS guys run? How about one of the vintage cars that have been restored for pseudo-racing events?

Why not? After all it’s open comp isn’t it? When you say ‘safety rules only” what does that mean? Safety rules according to Madera Speedway and the ERA, or the more stringent rules of Oswego Speedway and ISMA? It’s 2015 shouldn’t drivers be required to run with functioning kill switches?

If a guy has a set of 30 year old Goodyear tires that he’s saved can he run those? Are American Racers allowed? Are you going to dictate what compound and size Hoosier has to be run? Do you see the can of worms this can open?

We crossed this bridge once before after the void that was left when the SRL disbanded. It didn’t work then, it won’t work now. Open competition races now are not anymore of an answer to fixing the issues that are plaguing the west coast supermodified scene than they were then. In fact, I believe you are only exasperating the problem further by drawing attention away from the underlying issues.

Jim Belfiore & I are very dear friends. But on this subject we couldn’t be on more polar opposite ends of the field. We have talked about this show at Madera until we are blue in the face and to the point that Jim got so upset at me that he crushed our revered and illustrious Circle K cooler that kept our PBR cold year after year when I’d visit Vegas. I imagine that Jim won’t be the only disagreeing, especially since there are fewer chances than ever to see anything but vintage or 360 supers in California.

The trouble seems to be, when you stand up and say, “Look, here’s the thing, I’d love to see this work, but…”, you are most often lambasted by the ruling, (and frankly what is probably the first, last and only), demographic that the supermodified division will ever know), for being negative, short-sighted, and lacking knowledge of supermodified history.

Not that it matters much anymore what I have to say, but to those that think I’m just being bitter, you’re wrong. In fact I believe that it is those that would utter the above condemnation on my opinion that are in fact being short-sighted and trying only to relive the past without any plan as to what the present socioeconomic world we live in demands.

Nor do those people have a plan for the future. For those people it’s simply a matter of, “It was so much better back then,” and they fail to really hash out all of the details of why it was better, what has changed, how to adapt to the world as we know it today, or what the possible pitfalls could be.

I’m not denying that since I’ve been involved as a fan, (dating back to 1968 when I was 6 months old),  that it wasn’t at the very least a whole lot more cool. I just want to know what the plan is. Why are open comp shows needed?

Wouldn’t it be better to do something more akin to what happened in 2007 or even 1995 with the East vs West Shootouts? For certain there were several stumbling blocks and a few irrational accusations of cheating and stacking the cards, but nearly everyone in the supermodified world can point to those two specific races as the one point where all parties were the closest to realizing a unified division that could lead to increased car counts.

We, (the SMRA BoD), tried to unite the west coast with the SMRA in 2009-2010. We were headed in the right direction but had a few bad apples trying to spoil the bunch, and along with Jeff’s crash, they succeeded. Jeremiah Bearden​ and Lance Jackson​ have worked tirelessly to build the CSS and only a few have supported them. Curt Kern had the NSRA* going strong and again a few bad apples made things rotten. Davey Hamilton tried doing what he’s doing now with the King of the Wings, it worked for a while, but again a few bad apples, arguing, infighting and favoritism, (along with few other well documented things we won’t get into here), tore it apart.

I think there’s something in the water out west, especially in California since that state always seems to be the one where the bad apples come from, so I have my doubts that this race is going to be anything more than a sideshow and a way to pad the back gate at the expense of the guys that bring their supermodifieds.

It’s a long shot, but I hope that this will work for the fans and the division and to some degree the promoter. I doubt that there will be more than five cars but I truly do hope I’m wrong. To those that are taking their cars, thank you. To those that don’t, I can understand, (travel over the mountains from Colorado and Idaho and not knowing what the purse will be), but don’t bitch when all you have to run is the vintage class, because this could be your last hurrah at making apple cider instead of apple cider vinegar.

PS: Jim had replaced the Circle K cooler and says I owe him a PBR. We of course agreed on that.

*See the comment below from Curt Kern that is a correction to NSRA statement.

What are your thoughts on this post? Leave your comment below!

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On the Soapbox: Justin Wilson’s Death

We’ve lost another very good race car driver, and from everything I can tell by the tributes from his fellow IndyCar drivers, a damned fine human being with the passing of Justin Wilson.

Let’ me be clear, I didn’t know Justin, I never even got to shake his hand or get an autograph, but I sure did always cheer him on.

Like many others, especially in IndyCar circles, I always felt that if he could just catch a break, he’d prove that he was a ‘shoe’ and would get the job done. I really became a fan when he had the Sonny’s BBQ sponsorship, (many of you know that I am ‘que aficionado and had first tasted Sonny’s sauce after ma n pa  brought a bottle back after ISMA ran at Volusia County back in the 90s), but I really cemented my appreciation for Justin when the Boy Scouts of a America was the main sponsor on the side of his car. Continue reading On the Soapbox: Justin Wilson’s Death

On the Soapbox: A Wake Up Call

We intended to get up this morning and let everyone know who the RG Design Winners of the Week were and that we’d updated the Results page. Then we saw where Dave McGuire had shared this horrible crash at Star Speedway involving Matt Seavey and Billy Osborne with us on our Twitter feed:

All we can say is Praise the Lord everyone is OK.

Drivers-One more example of why you need to wear the best and most safety gear you can, always.

Fans-A reminder that sometimes it’s better to sit a little higher and while I don’t see any fans doing it in this video, NEVER turn your back to a racecar.

Tracks-We know times are tough, but fan and driver safety must always come first. Star’s fence did it’s job. Will your’s?

We offer this up as ‪#‎supermodified‬ news and commentary on racing safety. We hope that you understand we are not glorifying the wreck.

According to a track official, “When I got there I expected the worst. The pole and fence did it’s job keeping the car out of the stands.”

“The fence is going to be fixed and probably isn’t as bad as it looks. The upper cable looks OK and we’ll probably need two poles,” he said.

When everything was cleaned up, somehow Star was able to finish the feature. I’m not 100% sure that the race should have continued, but it did. Our pal Mike Netishen-aka M-Netty picked up his second Star 350 Super win of the year.

The 350 Supers return to Star on June 13. Continue reading On the Soapbox: A Wake Up Call