Dirt Track Racing as a whole has grown over the years to new fans and drivers. Big series sweep across the nation, from the countries best Late Model drivers and teams to its best Sprint Car drivers and teams. One form of the sport that some national fans may forget, is Dirt Modified Racing. A number of the best local and national wheelmen drive these cars on a weekly basis.
The 700+ horsepower machines have captivated the country in recent years. Becoming one of the most affordable forms of dirt track racing, these cars have gone from local support series', to headliners across the lower forty-eight.
What is it that makes the modified class so appealing to fans and drivers?
First, we have to look at the accessibility for the teams, in most states around the mid-west, especially the Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and iowa area, you can pick between a number of tracks to race at each week. Then, when you show up, if the payout is good, car counts most of the time are near or in the mid-thirties. Speaking of payout, you could be racing for as low as $500 to win or as high as 3 or 4 thousand, with most somewhere in-between. Big events have reached $50,000 to win, like it did a few times in 2017 while many races have paid $10,000-25,000. Showcased races like these put the class on the map and continue to produce over 100 cars in the pit area, making the sport as healthy as any other form of auto racing. This makes Modifieds very appealing to new drivers, teams and fans.
The accessibility and payouts are what bring the competition to the level we see it in the modified ranks.
The chassis building game has taken on its own level of intensity over the past decade. You can't list on ten fingers or toes all the different chassis' you can buy and most of them are good quality. If you sit down with a modified regular and talk about the chassis game, you could be there for hours naming all the different builders to choose from, this adds another layer to the sport and this class specifically.
With multiple classes in the country, from UMP to IMCA and USMTS, if you wanted to, you could run over 100 races a season behind the wheel of a Dirt Modified. With all these different divisions, we get to see a good number of big-money events during a calendar year, which sometimes bring in over a hundred drivers from all over the country. Not many forms of motorsport in the world can say, in 2017, that they still have over a hundred cars at any show.
The best thing about the class however, has to be the laundry list of drivers that can win any given race and the opportunities that come from success at this level. If you make the trip to Eldora Speedway in October for the UMP Fall Nationals, there will be more than 40 drivers there that could win if things go their way. If you throw in drivers like Devin Gilpin, Ricky Thornton Jr., and Nick Hoffman, who have taken success at the modified level, to starts in the World 100 and Dirt Late Model Dream, you can also make the argument that this class produces more opportunities for drivers than any other.
The personalities are second to none as well. We’ve been blessed to have Kenny Wallace come and compete and find a home on the modified level, along with him Ken Schrader has also became a fixture at this level. Each of them have brought new fans, sponsors and anything else to the sport we all love and that is something we can’t thank them enough for.
We all love what the Chili Bowl Nationals has done for Midget racing. It put the class on the map and made it one of the hottest tickets in the sport. This is already being done with the Modifieds’ as well.
The Gateway Dirt Nationals provides a stage for Dirt Modified regulars to show what the division has to offer each season, with 2016 being the inaugural race, this event will continue to grow year after year and possibly one day, it could match what the Chili Bowl has done for Dirt Midget Racing.
Dirt Modified Racing is one of the only forms of motorsports on the rise, that is the most exciting thing about the sport and it's because of the dedication from each and every fan, track owner, promoter, driver, sponsor and everyone else involved.