These familiar machines are a part of most dirt tracks around the country. They go by several names-IMCA Modifieds, UMP Modifieds, WISSOTA Modifieds, NARA Modifieds, E-Mods, and just plain Modifieds. For the most part, the cars compete under similar rules across the nation.
The purpose of this dirt vehicle type is really twofold. First, there's the fact that it provides outstanding performance and competition to track promoters. It seems that about every dirt track in the country has a Modified class. But just as important is the learning process that comes from driving what is the first full-bodied car for many competitors. Numerous drivers have progressed from Street Stocks and karts to Modifieds.
This model serves as the logical step to move up to the Dirt Late Models or other frontline vehicles. And a very important aspect of these cars is that they can be raced for reasonable money. Performance at a reasonable cost-what a plan!
These cars have an interesting configuration, combining a full body with an open-wheel look. The body is missing its front quarters, which completely exposes the sides of the powerplant, along with the front suspension. But the greatest difference in this car occurs in the frame where the front clip is of a factory construction, including the factory A-arms and other hardware. The unit must reach a minimum of 36 inches from the center of the rearend housing. The remainder of the frame is normally fabricated of tubular material.
Suspension systems on these cars are interesting and depend a lot on driving style. One solid rule, though, is that a single shock must be in place on each corner. With the springs, either leaf or coil can be used, or a combination of both, but no coilovers. Just like with the Dirt Late Models, four-bar and four-link systems are starting to appear.
Ease of body repair is a benefit with this racing vehicle, as it is formed completely of squares and rectangles, with essentially no curving body lines. All that is required to replace a damaged aluminum body panel is to measure it and cut out a new piece from a sheet of 0.040-inch aluminum.
There is no engine displacement restriction for these approximately 2,350-pound cars, but a majority of the teams use 350-400ci Chevy small-block carbureted engines. However, it's not uncommon to see Ford and Mopar engines. Most burn alcohol, and this helps reduce heat.
Not that long ago, an engine from the junkyard could serve as a starting point, but like all other types of racing, that's not possible anymore if you want to be competitive.
Today new top-gun engines cost as much as $20,000, but used engines can be acquired for considerably less than $5,000. The same holds true for used Modifieds-the price range varies.
With the remainder of the powertrain, it's common to see the use of aftermarket two-speed transmissions. A vast majority also use 9-inch Ford rearends. Until recently, no quick-change rearends were allowed, but there has been a move toward allowing them.