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The origins of Sprint Car racing


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#101 fines

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 08:41

Originally posted by REDARMYSOJA
I would say the contempt is evident in your post , and you can poo-poo these drivers all you want , but they had as much talent as many of the USAC guys . I never said UMCA or IMCA during that time was totally on par with USAC , but you seem to be offended at even a slight innuendo that it might have been . They were both stepping stones to USAC and Indy , but many a great driver competed there , and started their careers there .

Johnny Rutherford got his start in IMCA and I never said Jan Opperman was a regular , but they did compete there . Jud Larson hated all sanctioning bodies and was never a true "regular" anywhere , unless he had to be . Just as the ASCS or All-Stars today can lead a driver to the WOO or USAC and unfortunatly to NASCAR now , UMCA and IMCA was a path in their day . But their drivers are every bit as good as any sanctioning body , and race just as hard and with equal enthusiasm .

If you go to the Sprint Car Hall of Fame , the list there is full of UMCA and IMCA regulars . But anyone who knows Sprint Cars knows these drivers have always been gypsies , moving about from one sanctioning body to another regularly . That's how Steve Kinser won so many WOO titles , he stayed there . If Doug Wolfgang or Sammy Swindell had stayed and ran all the races for all the years as Kinser , Steve wouldn't have won as many .

And to say drivers like Gordon Wooley or Jerry Blundy didn't have the guts to "prove themselves" against the best just shows a lack of understanding of the sport and certainly doesn't indicate that they are not "first division drivers" . Cherry pickers are still common in Sprint Car racing and they still have their detractors , but many drivers can make as good a living running regionally without all the travel and other headaches involved with pursuing a path to Indy or where ever . Gary Wright still runs the ASCS , and see if you can find anyone worth their salt who will poo-poo his ability in a Sprint Car . And he is much more than a "fairgrounds attraction."

You never truly know , unless you are privy to inside info , why a driver doesn't try to make it to the top in the sport , there can be a variety of personal situations , or proffesional , that affects their decisions . It could be as simple as the wife saying , " don't do that " . A fellow I went to school with became a regular with in the Sprint car world and even held his own against the WOO , but his wife got pregnant , and that was the end of his racing career . He said he now had more important issues . It takes more than talent and fortitude to make it to the top in auto racing , particularly Sprint Cars .

And it was the advent of rear-engined cars that killed the "Path to Indy" and short track promotors , such as USAC , that never came up with a rear-engined class as a stepping stone . Nothing more , nothing less . It certainly wasn't the "jaded US motorsports fans" . That's rather a contemptous statement , I'd say . :down:

Well, you pretty much repeated what I said: IMCA and UMCA were at best stepping stones to USAC, and those drivers you mentioned drove there on their way up. You could, of course, add the names A. J. Foyt, Don Branson or Billy Cassella, actually many more. The point is, the Chet Wilson "Offy Killer" did, at best, "kill" second or third division Offies, cars that were built from leftovers of the USAC teams (read up stuff about the Dizz Wilson Offies!), unlike Joe Barzda for example who didn't shy away from running with the big boys. That's what I meant by "hillbilly legend", and I stand by what I said!

The other things you said about priorities in racing are all very important, interesting and true, but it's not what we were talking about, is it? Racing is a competitive sport, and by engaging in it you agree to getting "valued" by the fans, the press, yes even the historian. I think it was Niki Lauda who once said something to the effect of: "I'm sure there is a racing driver somewhere in the Brazilian jungle who would blow us all off into the weeds, but unless he comes here and shows us what he can do, I don't care one bit." Beat that!

Oh, and btw, USAC had a rear-engined class as a stepping stone, Super Vee! It's just that the Jan Oppermans, Steve Kinsers and Doug Wolfgangs of this world weren't interested in it. Perhaps because it was "too easy" to make big bucks running big brutes?

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#102 fines

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 08:56

Originally posted by Bob Riebe
It would be nice if just once you could post in a thread without trashing drivers, live or dead.
IF like Buford, you may have driven against them, then you are speaking first hand and I defer. but if not, what is it, some inferiority complex you cannot control?

Bob
PS--You have never heard of the Chevy Rat and Mouse engines, what be you some furry little furrin devil?

What exactly is your problem, Bob???? I seem to recall some similar complaints after I posted a short eulogy to Jerry Karl.

I feel like talking to a child when I explain: not every racing driver can be the greatest in the world. When we discuss the greats of this sport, we surely also can appreciate those who weren't "that" good, can we? After all, those are the bread and butter of our sport, since there would be no winners if there were no losers - Old Chinese Saying :rolleyes: I wouldn't think many drivers would have a problem admitting they weren't as successful as A. J. Foyt - actually, I guess the majority of them would freely admit their limitations. After all, if you can't stomach losing, what's the point in competing?

PS--Sorry for not growing up in the United States of America - I promise next life I will try

#103 Flat Black

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 13:41

fines,

I suspect the whining to which you refer is intrinsic less to American racing and more to the age in which we currently live. And I don't like it at all.

#104 Bob Riebe

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 14:42

Originally posted by fines

What exactly is your problem, Bob???? I seem to recall some similar complaints after I posted a short eulogy to Jerry Karl.

The point is why do you have to trash them.
I speak of many driver, give them their do, but do not have some impulse to insult and deride them in a PeeWee Herman manner.

So WHAT is your problem.
If you cannot speak without insulting their achievements or careers, it is usually best to keep quite.
IF you do not think you are insulting them, then you are a dullard.

#105 fines

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 19:27

If you cannot read posts without understanding them, then it's CERTAINLY best to keep quite. Bob, I KNOW I haven't insulted anyone and I'm stopping short of doin' it to you. And I am CERTAINLY not a dullard! :lol: :drunk:

EDIT: How do you put people on an "ignore list"? Serious question!

EDIT2: Found it! Bye Bob :wave:

#106 Flat Black

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 21:08

Originally posted by fines
And I am CERTAINLY not a dullard!


No, but you ARE modest to a fault.

:lol:
;)

#107 RStock

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 22:36

Originally posted by fines

Well, you pretty much repeated what I said: IMCA and UMCA were at best stepping stones to USAC, and those drivers you mentioned drove there on their way up. You could, of course, add the names A. J. Foyt, Don Branson or Billy Cassella, actually many more.


I never said UMCA or IMCA was the top dog in it's time . What I was saying was there were lots of good cars and competitors running both series . Just because it wasn't a direct pipeline to Indy as USAC was , doesn't mean it was a 3rd or 4th tier series . Should we consider the USAC cars and drivers of today 3rd or 4th rate since the WOO whips them like a step-child ?



The point is, the Chet Wilson "Offy Killer" did, at best, "kill" second or third division Offies, cars that were built from leftovers of the USAC teams (read up stuff about the Dizz Wilson Offies!), unlike Joe Barzda for example who didn't shy away from running with the big boys. That's what I meant by "hillbilly legend", and I stand by what I said!


The "Offy Killer" first earned it's nickname in 1955 , and competed until the mid 70's . Are you telling me in all that time , it never bested worthy competition ?

The other things you said about priorities in racing are all very important, interesting and true, but it's not what we were talking about, is it? Racing is a competitive sport, and by engaging in it you agree to getting "valued" by the fans, the press, yes even the historian.


But priorities are what it's all about at that level . You gotta eat , and your kids if you got them have to also . Many of these guys worked regular jobs during the week , and raced on the weekend , that's why they're called Weekend Warriors often . Some car owners don't want the expense and aggrevation of traveling far away to race . Would you give up a solid ride in a winning car to purse a pipe dream ? Perhaps so , but I don't fault drivers who decide not to .


I think it was Niki Lauda who once said something to the effect of: "I'm sure there is a racing driver somewhere in the Brazilian jungle who would blow us all off into the weeds, but unless he comes here and shows us what he can do, I don't care one bit." Beat that!


James Hunt once said " Indians should stay in the jungle and not attempt to race !" Beat That .

Oh, and btw, USAC had a rear-engined class as a stepping stone, Super Vee! It's just that the Jan Oppermans, Steve Kinsers and Doug Wolfgangs of this world weren't interested in it. Perhaps because it was "too easy" to make big bucks running big brutes?


Earning big bucks driving big brutes was part of it . Or perhaps they saw a fellow such as Sammy Swindell who ran in AIS , I believe was the name of the series , and did well the few times he sat in a full grown Indy car , but yet still couldn't land a full time ride .

But the rear-engined class as a stepping stone that I was refering to was one that ran all across the country that weekend warriors could compete in . There has never been anything along those lines . Remember , USAC has been a regional series for some time now . If I wanted to compete in USAC , from the time I was of age up until now (about the last 30 years) , I would have had to done as Jeff Gordon , and move across the country . And I'm not laying the fault of not having a stepping stone series at USAC's feet , they have tried , as you pointed out . But rather it is short track series and promotors across the country , who often banned rear-engine cars from competition .

#108 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 00:31

I had to check to see if I was in the correct forum and it was not news to realize I was.....

#109 Buford

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 01:27

The reason we went with WOO and not USAC in 1979 and 1980 was not because of any concept of "tiers." It was because USAC was running mostly pavement and we couldn't afford the tires. And we were on the track with Kinsers, Swindell, Hewett, etc and USAC really was a lower level even then.

#110 fines

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 10:15

REDARMYSOJA, let's not fight over small issues. You're right, regional aspects and (as Buford says) equipment also played key roles. It's not always black and white, but as a general rule-by-thumb I'd still reckon that AAA/USAC was #1 until about the mid-seventies. And Swindell ran ARS, a forerunner of Indy Lights, didn't he? Wasn't AIS the Bill Tempero "amateur" series?

The thing about priorities, I think you misunderstood perhaps: as I said, it's all very true but (imho) not really relevant in this discussion. I put up the Niki Lauda quote because I thought it brilliantly explains the tough reality of being (or aspiring to be!) a world class competitor: if racing is not your top priority, then that's your problem not mine - don't bother me with excuses, because I've been through it, too!

P.S. that "lovely" bit about Indians staying in the jungle is, I believe, a quote by another Austrian, Jochen Rindt, upon Carlos Reutemann's attempts to force him off-road in an F2 race at Hockenheim in 1970... in the same race that two years earlier had claimed Jimmy Clark! :(

#111 RStock

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 22:41

Originally posted by fines
REDARMYSOJA, let's not fight over small issues. You're right, regional aspects and (as Buford says) equipment also played key roles. It's not always black and white, but as a general rule-by-thumb I'd still reckon that AAA/USAC was #1 until about the mid-seventies.


I'm not trying to fight , but defend some fellows from some rather rude comments . You can't ignore the minutae when judging someone so harshly . Gordon Wooley is a good example , he was perhaps , the original outlaw and raced when and where he wanted to . USAC has always been , in my view , a very "political series" where you had to be willing to tolerate some BS to get by , unless you were one of the "annointed ones" . Here's Gordons own words as to why he only ran with USAC once .

"I got out of the car to go and get a drink of water and when I got back , the owner had another driver in it ."


I'm interpreting here , but I think that's his way of saying he didn't want to put up with the BS .


And Swindell ran ARS, a forerunner of Indy Lights, didn't he? Wasn't AIS the Bill Tempero "amateur" series?


Yes , I think your right , ARS , American Racing Series .

The thing about priorities, I think you misunderstood perhaps: as I said, it's all very true but (imho) not really relevant in this discussion. I put up the Niki Lauda quote because I thought it brilliantly explains the tough reality of being (or aspiring to be!) a world class competitor: if racing is not your top priority, then that's your problem not mine - don't bother me with excuses, because I've been through it, too!


Well , I don't view them as excuses . Not everyone who races wants to be a star , some just want to race , and they don't really care what or where . But sometimes decisions on how you pursue that must be made , and sometimes they are hard ones to make . And sometimes they just don't want to put up with the hassle of getting to the top .

And I agree with Niki's comment , I've always said there are more good drivers than there are good cars . There could be some guy running at a local track who would make everyone say " Who was Micheal Schumacher ?" , but we'll never get the chance to see him , because he's made other decisions on what he wants from life .

P.S. that "lovely" bit about Indians staying in the jungle is, I believe, a quote by another Austrian, Jochen Rindt, upon Carlos Reutemann's attempts to force him off-road in an F2 race at Hockenheim in 1970... in the same race that two years earlier had claimed Jimmy Clark! :(


Yes , it was Jochen . I remember now being suprised he said such when I first read it . It just sounds like something Hunt should have said . (NO offense to "The Shunt" , I liked him .) :kiss:

#112 Bob Riebe

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 03:51

Originally posted by fines
If you cannot read posts without understanding them, then it's CERTAINLY best to keep quite. Bob, I KNOW I haven't insulted anyone and I'm stopping short of doin' it to you. And I am CERTAINLY not a dullard! :lol: :drunk:

EDIT: How do you put people on an "ignore list"? Serious question!

EDIT2: Found it! Bye Bob :wave:

THe mouse has left my building.

#113 fines

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 08:52

Alright then, "rude comments", "judging harshly": I went back to my post to re-read it, and the only point I can even remotely link those words to is the sentence about not having "the guts to prove themselves". I'm not sure if my understanding of your language is at fault, or if it's a cultural thing, but I myself don't have a problem with admitting that I don't even have the guts to be a racing driver at all, and I don't feel in the least ashamed for that. Do you believe you're only half a man if you lack courage??? If that is so, I'm afraid we can't agree here even if we argued another hundred years!

My concept of "judging" human beings does in no way depend on people giving up their personal lives to pursue a dangerous dream, or any other sacrifice. If a person decides his life is best lived as an accountant or clerk, partaking in his hometown's annual chess championships and regularly finishing last in it, because he doesn't have the guts to play table tennis, then that's perfectly fine with me. And he stands as much of a chance to rate as high as any racing driver in my personal "hierarchy".

And to be frank, if a racing driver can't admit he's perhaps not as good as he thinks he is, and carries a hyperinflated personal image into everyday life, I'd rather not know him at all, even if he has the guts to drive through a wall of flames! Courage? Sometimes even courage isn't what it appears to be, just think of Niki Lauda and the 1976 Fuji F1 race...

#114 Bob Riebe

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 16:30

Originally posted by fines
Alright then, "rude comments", "judging harshly": I went back to my post to re-read it, and the only point I can even remotely link those words to is the sentence about not having "the guts to prove themselves". I'm not sure if my understanding of your language is at fault, or if it's a cultural thing, but I myself don't have a problem with admitting that I don't even have the guts to be a racing driver at all, and I don't feel in the least ashamed for that. Do you believe you're only half a man if you lack courage??? If that is so, I'm afraid we can't agree here even if we argued another hundred years!

My concept of "judging" human beings does in no way depend on people giving up their personal lives to pursue a dangerous dream, or any other sacrifice. If a person decides his life is best lived as an accountant or clerk, partaking in his hometown's annual chess championships and regularly finishing last in it, because he doesn't have the guts to play table tennis, then that's perfectly fine with me. And he stands as much of a chance to rate as high as any racing driver in my personal "hierarchy".

And to be frank, if a racing driver can't admit he's perhaps not as good as he thinks he is, and carries a hyperinflated personal image into everyday life, I'd rather not know him at all, even if he has the guts to drive through a wall of flames! Courage? Sometimes even courage isn't what it appears to be, just think of Niki Lauda and the 1976 Fuji F1 race...

Ahh and these are the excuses one uses for insulting others for, in the ones opinion, not doing as well as the one thinks it should be done, yetit is something the one will not even attemptif he had the chance.

There is nothing wrong with an accountant, clerk, and especially a chess player, ever, until such ones start ridiculing the accomplishments of others for self-righteous, reasons that appear to be based in insecurity.

#115 RStock

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 17:29

Originally posted by fines
Alright then, "rude comments", "judging harshly": I went back to my post to re-read it, and the only point I can even remotely link those words to is the sentence about not having "the guts to prove themselves". I'm not sure if my understanding of your language is at fault, or if it's a cultural thing, but I myself don't have a problem with admitting that I don't even have the guts to be a racing driver at all, and I don't feel in the least ashamed for that. Do you believe you're only half a man if you lack courage??? If that is so, I'm afraid we can't agree here even if we argued another hundred years!

My concept of "judging" human beings does in no way depend on people giving up their personal lives to pursue a dangerous dream, or any other sacrifice. If a person decides his life is best lived as an accountant or clerk, partaking in his hometown's annual chess championships and regularly finishing last in it, because he doesn't have the guts to play table tennis, then that's perfectly fine with me. And he stands as much of a chance to rate as high as any racing driver in my personal "hierarchy".

And to be frank, if a racing driver can't admit he's perhaps not as good as he thinks he is, and carries a hyperinflated personal image into everyday life, I'd rather not know him at all, even if he has the guts to drive through a wall of flames! Courage? Sometimes even courage isn't what it appears to be, just think of Niki Lauda and the 1976 Fuji F1 race...


Saying the jaded American race fan "got what they deserved" would rate as rude in my book , as well as laughing at the mere mention of Cotton Musick's name . Cotton was a good driver in his time , his name comes up a lot in conversations about days of old . Just because he wasn't a USACer doesn't mean he wasn't any damn good .

And seems to me saying someone doesn't have the guts to prove themselves is the same thing as calling them a coward . Gordon Wooley may have been a lot of things but he certainly wasn't a coward . He was a racer through and through and just wanted to compete . He was still driving at local dirt tracks well into his 80's .

I think you have a good grasp of the facts and stats about sprint car racing , but I don't think you understand the intracacies . No one would call the Pennsylvania Posse guys cowards because they don't run the WOO circuit regularly . Where a guy races isn't always so cut and dried , and I don't think you realize how political an organization USAC could be and still is . It's why guys like Steve Kinser didn't race with them , there is to much BS to tolerate , and I don't think anyone who understands how things work would call Kinser a coward because he didn't join the USAC brigade . The insider network at USAC is what allowed the WOO to flourish . Good drivers looked elsewhere .

Niki getting back in the car at Fuji is the definition of courage , but I don't see what it has to do with where a guy ran a sprint car . Many of them got hurt at times and got back into a car also . Niki wanted to boycott Nurburgring before the race when he was injured , and climbing out of the car because he thought it was too wet was courage also , I'd say . Yet I have heard those who would call him a coward for doing so , and I take exception to them saying such things also . It's wrong , just as wrong as saying someone is a coward for not running with USAC .

#116 Flat Black

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 18:24

Courage is confronting that which you fear and fear most. Identifying what you truly fear can be the tricky part.

#117 McGuire

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 15:37

I think we can safely say that the origins the "Sprint Car" predate the term itself. Do we have any idea where and when the term "Sprint Car" first began to appear in posters, programs, and newspaper reports?

#118 Flat Black

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 16:05

Believe a poster earlier in this thread mentioned that Economaki may have coined the term--or at least put it into print--around 1947.

#119 Jim Thurman

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 20:31

Originally posted by REDARMYSOJA
But the rear-engined class as a stepping stone that I was refering to was one that ran all across the country that weekend warriors could compete in . There has never been anything along those lines . Remember , USAC has been a regional series for some time now . If I wanted to compete in USAC , from the time I was of age up until now (about the last 30 years) , I would have had to done as Jeff Gordon , and move across the country . And I'm not laying the fault of not having a stepping stone series at USAC's feet , they have tried , as you pointed out . But rather it is short track series and promotors across the country , who often banned rear-engine cars from competition .

Except Jeff Gordon didn't move across country to race with USAC, his pim-errr, stepfather got upset that California tracks and associations wouldn't make an exception and allow Jeff to race under 16. After serious lobbying didn't sway enough promoters, he finally took his ball (Jeff) and left, moving somewhere he could find those willing to play along. Ostensibly, it was to give Jeff a "head start", but in reality it was more than that. He got to start about a year earlier than he would have had he stayed.

As far as the rest of Michael's argument, some of it leaves me somewhat bewildered and as such, I still have to digest portions of it before finding time to compose anything resembling a reply :)

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#120 Bob Riebe

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 17:53

Originally posted by REDARMYSOJA
But the rear-engined class as a stepping stone that I was refering to was one that ran all across the country that weekend warriors could compete in . There has never been anything along those lines . Remember , USAC has been a regional series for some time now . If I wanted to compete in USAC , from the time I was of age up until now (about the last 30 years) , I would have had to done as Jeff Gordon , and move across the country . And I'm not laying the fault of not having a stepping stone series at USAC's feet , they have tried , as you pointed out . But rather it is short track series and promotors across the country , who often banned rear-engine cars from competition .

--------------------------------
The fact that the sprint car series and super modified series out east killed rear-engined cars in the seventies is well known.

But I know that super mods out west used rear-engined cars into the eighties.
Did any of those boys get to Indianapolis? (Besides Sneva)

#121 Jim Thurman

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 18:35

Originally posted by Bob Riebe
The fact that the sprint car series and super modified series out east killed rear-engined cars in the seventies is well known.

But I know that super mods out west used rear-engined cars into the eighties.
Did any of those boys get to Indianapolis? (Besides Sneva)

The Central California based group allowed rear engines from '76 through '82 or '83 and at least one Pacific NW association allowed them through a merger with the other association to become the short lived USAC-Washington in '86 or so (Michael's opinion of USAC might not be so high if he were to understand their utter mismanagement of the Super Modifieds).

Of the rear engined cars/drivers, I don't recall any other than Tom getting to Indy. There were never that many in Central California during the seven years or so they ran - I recall Wally Pankratz, Dave Bowling, Nevada's Tommy Silsby and Everett Edlund running RE cars. There were a few more in the Northwest. Tom Sneva's younger brother Blaine raced a rear engined car through the mid 1980's. Of the Super drivers from that made it to Indy from the Northwest - Billy Foster, Eldon Rasmussen, Cliff Hucul, Tom and Jerry Sneva, Art Pollard, Jim Malloy and Dick Simon - Tom Sneva is the only one I recall running a rear engined car, the rest were in roadster style or upright style Supers. And all of the California Supers of that time were uprights (Joe Leonard, Dick Atkins, George Snider). Canadian Norm Ellefson made a few Indy Car starts, and he drove a RE Super.

#122 RStock

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 21:45

Couple of pages here of rear-engine Supers at Oswego . They were banned , of course .

http://www.retrorock...rearengines.htm

We had a local fellow that built a rear-engine modified . It was such a failure that no one tried another one or protested it . I don't think they were ever banned though .

#123 Bob Riebe

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 16:20

Originally posted by REDARMYSOJA
Couple of pages here of rear-engine Supers at Oswego . They were banned , of course .

http://www.retrorock...rearengines.htm

We had a local fellow that built a rear-engine modified . It was such a failure that no one tried another one or protested it . I don't think they were ever banned though .

There used to be a photo of the Pankratz car somewhere on the net, but I can not find it.
Some of the last r-e cars would have looked right at home at Indy.

#124 Peter Leversedge

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 12:24

I remember seeing Wally Pankratz in a rear engine sprint car at Bakersfield in 1977, If I remember correctly he was the only rear engine car there, he lead the race untill some thing in the supension broke and the race was won by Lee James in a dirt car with a sprint front

#125 Bob Riebe

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 05:45

Found the picture:

Posted Image

Posted Image

#126 martyk

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 17:51

Here's some more pix of RE Supers:

Todd Gibson's "Flintstone Flyer" at Altamont:
Posted Image

Dave Bowling:
Posted Image

Jim Perry:
Posted Image

Earl Kelley:
Posted Image

John Albrechtsen:
Posted Image

Everett Edlund:
Posted Image

#127 Flat Black

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 18:42

Fascinating pics.

Now I know this is a stupid question, but could somebody explain to me the difference between a front-engine modified and a traditional sprint car? Obviously, the ass end is squared off rather than rounded, but I'm sure there's more to it than that.

#128 Jim Thurman

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 21:45

Bob, Marty,

First, thanks for posting the pics :up: My memory was good :) I forgot about Jim Perry, but like Earl Kelley, that was more a special event car. Kelley's Lola came up in the Super Modified thread. The other two, Todd Gibson and Albrechtson, were cars that raced regularly, but in their home areas.

Flat Black,

Super Modified rules varied, sometimes greatly, from track to track, but a basic for dirt Supers were Sprint type wheelbases in the West, Champ Dirt Car wheelbases for the Plains and Southwest. At least in Central and Northern California, box frame rail was required and tube frame chassis construction was not allowed. For a long time, Supers ran huge engines too, but even before Sprints formally cut back to 410, Supers were 377 c.i. maximum at San Jose. Wing rules even varied from association to association. San Jose at one time had massive wings. I mean unbelievably huge. To the point where open race entries would sometimes state "No San Jose wings". As I mentioned California tracks that ran Supers on dirt required that the tail tanks not be Sprint type tails. Eventually, even a track or two got away from that and the class at those tracks evolved into a 360 Sprint class.

#129 Peter Leversedge

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 04:54

Back in the 70's I owned a "RAM" sprint car that had been built as a upright Super Modified and I belive it ran at San Jose [ 1/4 mile pavement track ]. The guy that took it to NZ changed it into a sprint car by changing the tail [ think that was about all he had to do ] to change it into a sprint car as S/mods in NZ had evolved into sprint cars by then and won the NZ Champs in it. I then obtained it [ still had the fuel tank under the seat ] and ran it for a number of seasons. My best results in the NZ Champs in it were a 4th, 4th= and 5th. The only time I saw the San Jose track was to peep through the fence on a week day not long before it closed but I did get to see the racing at WCR.

#130 bpratt

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 08:26

Originally posted by Jim Thurman

The Central California based group allowed rear engines from '76 through '82 or '83 and at least one Pacific NW association allowed them through a merger with the other association to become the short lived USAC-Washington in '86 or so (Michael's opinion of USAC might not be so high if he were to understand their utter mismanagement of the Super Modifieds).

Of the rear engined cars/drivers, I don't recall any other than Tom getting to Indy. There were never that many in Central California during the seven years or so they ran - I recall Wally Pankratz, Dave Bowling, Nevada's Tommy Silsby and Everett Edlund running RE cars. There were a few more in the Northwest. Tom Sneva's younger brother Blaine raced a rear engined car through the mid 1980's. Of the Super drivers from that made it to Indy from the Northwest - Billy Foster, Eldon Rasmussen, Cliff Hucul, Tom and Jerry Sneva, Art Pollard, Jim Malloy and Dick Simon - Tom Sneva is the only one I recall running a rear engined car, the rest were in roadster style or upright style Supers. And all of the California Supers of that time were uprights (Joe Leonard, Dick Atkins, George Snider). Canadian Norm Ellefson made a few Indy Car starts, and he drove a RE Super.


Even earlier into the 1960s the Washington Auto Racing Association (WARA) allowed rear-engined machines. At one point I read some hyperbole that the WARA was second to the IMCA in longevity as a sanctioning body. It eventually became the Washington Racing Association (WRA).

[IMG]http://img73.imagesh...01965lf9.th.jpg[/IMG]

The terrible scan I have is of Ernie Koch from 1965. Not sure of the car's history. Ernie was linked with Rolla Vollstedt. And I'm not sure if it's the same car that "Jungle" Jim Roberts from Oregone drove a year or two later with the WARA.

As Jim points out the Canadian American Modified Racing Association did allow rear-engine cars. Not sure when. I've seen a mid-sixties news clipping about Art Pollard finding a loophole that would allow for rear-engine cars.

#131 martyk

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 14:21

Here's a few more pictures I dug up:

Posted Image

Tom Sneva in a rear-engine USAC "sprint":
Posted Image

And finally, here's a typical West coast "Super Modified" frame:
Posted Image

Now just when did the Supers (dirt-track variety) finally die out as a class? I seem to remember a story in Open Wheel in the 80's on some midwest Supers, and I know San Jose ran them well into the 80's.

Peter, you really missed out on seeing racing at San Jose. Long straightaways, high-banked turns. As stated earlier, the San Jose supers were rather primitive, chassis-wise, but they sure made some horsepower.

Jim, I remember the "San Jose" wings - big as a house!! Some seemed literally to be longer than the car!

#132 Flat Black

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 14:31

Frankly, those rear-engine mods look more like Indy cars than sprint cars.

#133 Jim Thurman

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 17:50

A couple here...

Originally posted by martyk

Now just when did the Supers (dirt-track variety) finally die out as a class? I seem to remember a story in Open Wheel in the 80's on some midwest Supers, and I know San Jose ran them well into the 80's.

Peter, you really missed out on seeing racing at San Jose. Long straightaways, high-banked turns. As stated earlier, the San Jose supers were rather primitive, chassis-wise, but they sure made some horsepower.

Jim, I remember the "San Jose" wings - big as a house!! Some seemed literally to be longer than the car!

Marty, thanks again for the pics :up:

I'm not really sure when Supers on dirt died out. I recall seeing what was likely the same story in Open Wheel on how a few tracks along the Mississippi River in Iowa had resurrected Modifieds as a "limited" class. It looks like 360 Sprints and IMCA Modifieds have replaced all dirt Super racing :( IIRC, the last year of Supers at San Jose was sometime in the late 1980's (I want to say '88).

I never made it to the old San Jose Speedway, but I did catch a race at Madera while on a vacation in 1973, so at least I saw the cars and drivers in action.

I saw the oversized wings at Baylands when a couple of San Jose cars ran with the Sprints. When a big winged San Jose car would lose it, it would eventually spin to a stop and then lazily tip over seconds later...looking just like Arte Johnson on the tricycle from Laugh-In :lol:

#134 Bob Riebe

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 17:55

Originally posted by Jim Thurman
When a big winged San Jose car would lose it, it would eventually spin to a stop and then lazily tip over seconds later...looking just like Arte Johnson on the tricycle from Laugh-In :lol:


Damn--you got me ROFLMAO.

#135 Jim Thurman

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 17:59

Originally posted by Flat Black
Frankly, those rear-engine mods look more like Indy cars than sprint cars.


There's a good reason, because in several cases they were old Indy Cars that were converted. The car in the photo of Sneva being a good example of that, it had been an Indy Car. Pavement Super racing was usually much more open in rules. Old Indy Roadsters and then, later, rear engined Indy Cars were converted into Super Modifieds for pavement.

Brian points out Ernie Koch's rear engined car and the WARA/WRA (thanks Brian :up: ). It was the WRA and CAMRA that merged to become the short-lived USAC-Washington. Rear engined Supers were run more years in the Northwest U.S. and Western Canada. As I've mentioned, the time they were allowed in California was fairly brief, though longer than some of the Eastern associations.

#136 martyk

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 00:06

I wish I had, or could find, a picture of Todd Gibson's rear-engine car at Clovis Speedway back in '75. Clovis was DIRT!! (Although they packed it down like asphalt) This was during the years of the Golden West Classic series in California, a race series at a different track each night (Just like Pennsylvania Speedweek nowadays). You had to attempt to run each race in the series to be eligible for the point fund. Gibson started the A-main 25th after winning the B-Main and sliced thru the field to lead by lap 57, over such diverse names as Howard Kaeding, Rick Ferkel, Roger Rager, Mike Sargent, Bobby Frey, Bobby Baker, Nick Rescino and Jimmy Sills before he broke on lap 63. It must have been an amazing sight.

This has been posted before, I think, in another thread, but here's an example of the BIG WINGs at the San Jose Fairgrounds:
Posted Image

#137 RStock

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 01:38

Originally posted by martyk
here's an example of the BIG WINGs at the San Jose Fairgrounds:
Posted Image


Somewhere , a barn is missing it's door . :)

#138 Flat Black

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 02:52

The do make nice billboards.

#139 Flat Black

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 15:47

Here is a quote from John and Barbara Devaney's Pictorial History of the Indy 500 dealing with the new requirement parameters for entries in the 1938 Indy 500:

It [the new requirement regime] put no restrictions on the kind or amount of fuel and limited engines to 274 cubic inches without superchargers, 183 with superchargers. And single-seat bodies were brought back, ending the era of the riding mechanic. The new formula detoured the semistocks from the Speedway to tracks and road races where they ran against their own kind.

The semistocks to which the authors refer were cars built by the big auto manufacturers (Ford, Deusenberg, Studebaker, etc.) for competition at Indy against the specialized racers built by Miller, Ballot, etc. Now the fact that they were called semistocks would lead one to believe that they could have been the progeny of stock cars. However, these semistocks were open-wheel cars and the authors state that they began to run on road courses, something stock cars did not do a great deal of, I believe. So, without putting too fine a point on it, could this have been the birth date of sprint and sport car racing in the US?

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#140 Jim Thurman

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 17:32

Originally posted by Flat Black
However, these semistocks were open-wheel cars and the authors state that they began to run on road courses, something stock cars did not do a great deal of, I believe. So, without putting too fine a point on it, could this have been the birth date of sprint and sport car racing in the US?

No.

Because there had been "Sprint Car" racing (though not known by that name) throughout the 20's and 30's and a few true Sports Car races in the U.S. dating back to 1934.

We know the type of open wheel racing that came to be known as Sprint Car racing goes back to the 20's, it's finding when the name "Sprint Cars" came into use along with who coined the term, when the term was first used, etc., that's always been the problem :)

#141 Jim Thurman

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 17:35

Originally posted by martyk
I wish I had, or could find, a picture of Todd Gibson's rear-engine car at Clovis Speedway back in '75. Clovis was DIRT!!

I was at a CRA race at Ascot where Pankratz tried to qualify the Pieper rear engined car. A DNQ. It also looked a lot different than in the photo Bob found. It was very "no frills" looking then. And Ascot was as tacky and heavy as usual that night.

#142 Flat Black

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 20:08

Two questions then, JT:

1. How was the 1920s "sprint car" racing different from that which took place at Indy and on the boards?

2. What were the authors talking about when they said the semistocks were thenceforth confined to running against one another? What sort of racing would that have been?

#143 RStock

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 00:32

Well , I've been poking around at sites with old newspaper clippings in hopes I would find the use of the term "sprint car" on a date earlier than the known one . I haven't found anything , yet , and doubt I will , however I did find an early use of the term "outlaw" . Here's a link to the articles , they are from the 1930's , 1935 from best I can tell .

Ignore the last lines of the first one .

http://www.thevintag...st/tn_1_014.htm

http://www.thevintag...st/tn_1_017.htm

http://www.thevintag...st/tn_1_030.htm

http://www.thevintag...st/tn_1_031.htm

#144 Flat Black

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 14:26

Thanks for the links, RED. Good stuff.

Now perhaps this has already been dealt with in the thread, but what precipitated the development of the outlaws? Was it conflict over car specs? Was it a conflict over purses? Was it a conflict over safety issues? Was the demand for racing opportunities greater than AAA could supply? Or was there some combination of the above?

#145 RStock

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 15:05

Originally posted by Flat Black
Thanks for the links, RED. Good stuff.

Now perhaps this has already been dealt with in the thread, but what precipitated the development of the outlaws? Was it conflict over car specs? Was it a conflict over purses? Was it a conflict over safety issues? Was the demand for racing opportunities greater than AAA could supply? Or was there some combination of the above?


AAA did not allow it's drivers to run other series or non-AAA races . If they did , they would be fined , as Nyquist was . He had to pay fines on several occasions when he decided to run with AAA again . These non-sanctioned races and tracks were refered to as "outlaw" . If you noticed in the links , Nyquist was refered to as "King of the Outlaws" , over a half century before Steve Kinser would bear that title .

As far as the "World of Outlaws" , it was started to consolidate modern day "outlaw" drivers . Guys like Rick "The Ohio Traveler" Ferkle , Lee Osborne , Jan Opperman among others . By then , "outlaw" had become a term used to describe drivers that didn't run with any one sanction . I find it ironic that the "World of Outlaws" has a similar rule to AAA , where they will fine drivers that pull off and run other series , though I'm not sure of that rule is still in place . I know they have waived it on occasion , they may have done away with it altogether . It may have been more of a "Ted Johnson rule" . Ted could be a real hard*ss .

#146 Flat Black

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 16:05

So the term "outlaw" initially applied to drivers running outside the AAA sanction and did not refer to any specific car type or specification. But by the time the WoO came into being, the cars that those outlaw drivers drove had ipso facto morphed into the sprint car type. Is that more or less correct? If so, the birth date of the sprint car would have to fall somewhere between the first use of the term "outlaw" and the organization of the WoO. I know that is a long period, but it at least begins to narrow it down somewhat.

#147 Flat Black

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 16:08

Actually, come to think of it, the birth of the sprint car would have to fall somewhere between the appearance of the term "outlaw" and the first use of the term "sprint car," which, as far as we know was Economaki's mention in 1947.

#148 RStock

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 16:39

Originally posted by Flat Black
Actually, come to think of it, the birth of the sprint car would have to fall somewhere between the appearance of the term "outlaw" and the first use of the term "sprint car," which, as far as we know was Economaki's mention in 1947.


Unless we can find something specific , Economaki will still be credited with creating it . Though I've heard it was a term that was being used loosly at the time already , coming about as a result of them usually running shorter sprint races , as opposed to say , the Indy 500 , or even 100 lap races . I'm still diging to see if I can find an earlier use .

And again , sprint cars have been around even well before the word "outlaw" was applied . Those cars that Nyquist and gang were running were , for all intents and purposes , sprint cars . They just weren't called such .

#149 Flat Black

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 17:18

But there had to be a split between the big cars and what evolved into the sprint car, RED. It seems logical to me that, unless a better alternative is proposed, outlaw racing was that split. Now if we can find the original year of outlaw racing we'd be getting somewhere. (AAA began sanctioning in 1909, so the terminus post quem of outlaw racing is 1910.) We know the terminus ante quem of the term "outlaw" is no later than 1934, and that's pretty darn early when you think about it!

#150 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 19:20

Actually, the AAA had a Racing Board as part of its orignal setup in March 1902, the Racing Board sanctioning events begining that year. The Contest Board was created during the Winter of 1908/1909 as part of an agreement with the automobile manufacturers, specifically the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers (ALAM), for which the AAA was one of its lobbyists. The term "outlaw" appears to have gained some level of traction in the 1915 period when IMCA, the International Motor Contest Association, was formed as a result of strong diasgreements (or a revolt) by fair operators in the Midwest with the AAA COntest Board.

"Sprints" being called as such were held from at least the early Twenties. It seems that the term "sprint car" was around in use long before 1947, even if in an informal use or sense.

You may find it beneficial to use the search function, see if you can find any of the earlier discussions on some of these topics, and then go back through them since some of them contain a lot of background information which too many of often take for granted in our discussions. Buried within TNF is a treasure of information, (alas, much of it still found nowhere else) that might be able to answer some of your questions. Digging for it can be a bear, but it can result in some true revelations if you have the patience.