The Modified division has...
The Modified division has opened doors for former Late Model champion drivers such as Tim Ice (65) and young upstart Shawn Stroble, Modified champion at Mansfield (Ohio) Speedway.
The American Modified Series (AMS) is a different type of series with limited travel, yet it offers competitors some very nice venues and opportunities for strong purses. AMS is based at Shady Bowl Speedway in Degraff, Ohio. The Bowl owners and promoters, Charlie Stapleton and Jeff Herron, created and run the AMS.
The series has branched out in recent seasons to Columbus Motor, Kil Kare and Midvale speedways, all in Ohio. The AMS has also made two stops each the last two seasons on the high-banks of the legendary half-mile Winchester Speedway in Indiana, the biggest track AMS competes on. This limited travel offers the AMS group an attractive schedule and affordability. Along with an end of year points fund, the AMS pays $1,200 to win and $150 to start at each event.
"We have just finished our fourth year of competition," says Charlie Stapleton. "In the AMS we wanted a series that would be affordable for a guy to race, yet did not control their life to the point where they could not have a personal life. The AMS goal each year is to have 14 -16 events. The AMS will offer up these weekends to our tracks that we visit, and fill in the open weekends with dates at Shady Bowl. This makes us very versatile and attractive to outside interest. That is the key with the Modified division, versatility.
"The pavement Modified rule book is pretty much like the UMP dirt racing rule book. All the paved tracks are pretty much on the same page and very easy for the racers to adapt to wherever they choose to go race at."
Although the AMS is home based out of Shady Bowl Speedway, the Bowl also offers Modified racers across the Midwest some very lucrative non-sanctioned races. The Mods are a weekly division at Shady Bowl, even when the AMS is not present, and offer the Mod competitors a 50-lapper with $2,500 to win the Firecracker 50 on June 28, and a $3,000 first prize at the fall Shady Bowl Shootout.
"The Modifieds are a very strong class and just getting stronger each new season," says Shady Bowl co-operator Jeff Herron. "Even on our weekly regular nights, not AMS sanctioned, we draw an average of 30-plus cars. Not only are the Mods fast growing, but a lot of other weekly tracks are starting to pay more attention to the Mod division, making them the headlining division at their weekly racing venue. Although there always seems to be a push on the rules, if the track promoters can just keep them affordable it can only be good for both the fans and the racers."
In the beginning, the Economy Modifieds (E Mods) were built as combo cars to master both dirt and pavement with very little changes to run either venue. Technology always seems to slowly creep into every class, and in the mid-'90s it became commonplace that to run dirt you needed a dirt car and for pavement you needed a pavement car. That was just about the same time when a lot of the local track Late Model divisions started taking hits as the high cost to support a Late Model forced lower car counts, in turn contributing to the lack of fan support. So in order to offer their fans a selection of competitive upper level racing, a lot of the local tracks started picking up on the Modifieds as they became both more popular and available. The popularity came down to the affordability factor.
With the USA and AMS schedules seldom overlapping it is not uncommon to see racers from both series racing together when scheduling permits. In the fall of the two previous seasons, the AMS and USA have worked together to put together a 50-lap challenge event at Winchester Speedway simply known as "The Winchester." Two sanctioning bodies working together for a common goal is something that is simply unheard of this day and age.