Chad Poole leads the pack in a heat race.
Starting as a support division in many areas in the late '80s, the pavement Economy Modifieds have quickly evolved into a prominent weekly division at just about every paved track in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. This division of racers has been widely accepted by both race fans and race promoters.
As with any successful racing division, the Mods have armed themselves with some very good, affordable rules, translating into racer and fan support. In an area of the country where Super Late Models once ruled, the Mods were initially a support class but quickly vaulted to the forefront.
With the high cost and demanding complicity of rules at just about all tracks, the Late Models seem to be in a tailspin as the Mods continue to gain in popularity. Many young drivers are stepping up to Modifieds, bypassing the Late Models, just as several veteran Late Model drivers have found success in the Mods and seem to be satisfied with the class.
Some tracks have dropped Late Model events, or severely cut the purses, and increased emphasis on the Modifieds. Year in and year out, the advantages and opportunities for the Mod racers keep adding up, and it does not look like it's going to change in the near future.
The Modifieds in general have been based on the idea of affordability. Most all Modified racers have regular weekly jobs to go to on Mondays, and they race purely for the fun, challenge and sport of it. Being affordable is likely the single most important thing to credit for the success and longevity of Modified racing across the Midwest.
As with most successful divisions of racers, not only are weekly venues at various racetracks a reality, but there always seems to be some traveling series that comes along and offers the racers some opportunities and possibilities to further advance their racing skills. For Modified racers in the Midwest, it comes in the form of the American Modified Series (AMS) and the O'Reilly USA Modified Series. These two traveling series offer strong purses, a points fund and viable venues for the racers and teams. At the same time, these series offer the opportunity for the Modified race fan to follow their favorite racers without traveling halfway across the country, making it affordable for all involved.
The BreakdownThough separate entities, the AMS group and USA group rely on the same basic set of rules, yet traveling seems to be at a completely different level. One thing that both series capitalize on is the ability for local racers to race with them at the tracks they visit. For the race fans, there is very little that is better than watching a traveling series come in and the local racers being able to compete on a level playing ground.
The USA Modifieds are based out of Fortville, Indiana, and headed up by car builder Steve Ellis. The USA group is an extension of the Dave Dayton Modified series that was formed in 1986. At that time, the original idea was for the series to take the place of the IMCA National Series, which had disbanded. The USA group races on tracks varying from a quarter-mile to a half-mile in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee.
"I am very satisfied with where we are right now," says Ellis. "Having signed O'Reilly Auto Parts as a title sponsor at the beginning of the 2007 season has definitely helped our group of racers. As with any racing series, you always hope for more purse money for your racers and more exposure for your sponsor. I feel we draw both open wheel and stock car fans alike as we are a cross breed between the two. Our racers are very loyal to the Mods and the series. They feel we have come into our prime. We are now looked at more and more as a main attraction on race night, but can still be a very good support group as well."