Sunday, July 25, 2010

Once More Into The Sport Mod Debate

Just sitting here not seeing any results from Antioch Speedway while most of the other tracks have reported already, and I noticed the Sport Mod Thread on the forum over at Late Model Racer had a question posted by learnlozinto (Mike Learn?). Now, maybe I'm just bored, I don't know. I'm not a huge advocate of this class as I'm still not convinced it won't divide an already hurting car count. Anyway, he posted this:

what would it take to get petaluma and antioch to run sport mods.....I have 2 chassis that would work for this......if petaluma or antioch wont do it then I know of a couple of asphalt tracks that would do it.....

Of course, Bap33, (Johnnie Baptista) posted a lengthy post, advocating IMCA sanctioning as usual. As John and Jim both had IMCA sanctioning on their Modifieds and dropped it, I just don't see that happening, but really, a good car count does not require that particular banner. For instance, Antioch has a slightly better UMP Modified car count than Bakersfield does with IMCA. The secret may be in the beter purse? I will aknowledge, however, that Watsonville and Santa Maria are doing quite well with IMCA. Though I'm not on the IMCA banner, I understand why some would be. I still think California needs something better than that, but this is another topic.

Johnnie did make an interesting statement in that post:

While we are at it, the IMCA 4bangers should be the companion class. Tracks are doing the "just like iMCA" thing to 4bangers and it will just keep the numbers low and the cars tied to particular tracks.

I disagree, and anyway, John was the first person to start this class in California without IMCA sanction. His hasty (to put it nicely) decision to drop the points from the class, which ultimately did it in, is the only reason it's not in the 20's now, in my opinion, but it should get better. The IMCA banner isn't needed here with all due respect. Show me an IMCA that actually cares about California and promotes that way, and I'll reconsider my stance, but they do not impress me. They are not even half the sanctioning body NASCAR was back when NASCAR actually cared about our little tracks. We need something better, but that (track unity) post will have to wait for another day.

Johnny also said:

I personally know 11 mod drivers in Merced County ready to follow the IMCA NSM rules right now. They just want some type of guarantee that a track wont just drop the sanction and change the rules once the class is built (ahem - like Antioch and Peteluma did with IMCA mods).

Okay, let's be honest here. IMCA didn't build anything at Antioch or Petaluma. John Soares Sr. is the man who actually started this clas in California in 1987, and he did it without IMCA. When he got into this deal, IMCA and NASCAR followed him. It took NASCAR a little longer. Once he started building a car count, he gave it a shot, even participated in a cool thing IMCA once did called the Great Western Classic. The only thing IMCA really did at Petaluma was cost a driver a championship on the stupid claim rule. "I can steal your motor for a mere $400." Get a real motor rule. It's not that hard. Wingless Spec Sprints anyone? Claims are for crybabies, in my opinion. I'm sure I'll piss somebody off with that opinion, but I've seen nothing but crap come from that claim in 20 years. It did not make things better.

As to Antioch, IMCA did NOTHING for car count there. NOTHING!!! NASCAR actually built that car count to the highest point it ever had, 30 or more cars per week for a few seasons and the most competitive point racing throughout the top 20 the division has EVER seen. Now, the racing on the track was an entirely different story. If you like weekly crash fests with ten cautions or more for a 30 lap race most weeks, the NASCAR Grand American Modified show at Antioch once Regional points were added to the equation would be for you. That's not to say there weren't some damn good drivers out there, though.

IMCA saved Merced Speedway. I will grant you that. The division was going nowhere until Chuck added the sanction, and he used it for everything it was worth. Sunday races that attracted top drivers from all over. It was a good thing. They seldom dropped below double digits and had a time when 16-20 cars raced per week. Not where Antioch or Petaluma was, but a decent show. In the end, even IMCA couldn't save that deal, but blaming it on IMCA wouldn't be fair. IMCA could have done the right thing a few years earlier when a certain track wanted in, but having a strong California has NEVER been on their agenda, in my opinion. Again, I know I will ruffle some feathers here, but it's just my opinion based on what I've seen and heard through the years.

If there are 11 cars in the area, bring them out. Look, it's very simple, when John Soares Jr. green lit the Spec Sprint deal back at the end of 1998, he did so after Don O'Keefe Jr. and I put the rules together and 12 racers committed to it. You claim you have 11, so what could it hurt to put a proposal together and go to John with it? If you have 11 cars, I guarantee you he will listen. Chances are good that you'll either get him to commit to IMCA or to not tweak any rules not associated with safety for a certain amount of time. If nothing else, you can say you tried. I don't see anything with the Sport Mod class at Merced being set in stone if a real proposal was there from the racers starting in 2011 and going forward.

Really, I thought I'd throw a few more thoughts in, because the answer to the question that started this post is real simple.

What would it take to get this class at Petaluma and Antioch?

Get the cars to Merced. NOW. You want John to notice, then get the cars. I don't know where Jim would stand at Petaluma, but if there was enough interest, I'm sure he would listen. Ford Cook is already building a car that should debut at Petaluma soon from what I've heard. But, John runs Antioch and Merced. If he sees enough cars out there putting on a good show at Merced, that has to increase the chances of a bay area track getting into this deal. I'm not a huge fan of it, but it could happen. John has taken chances on other classes in the past. If he see's ten or more cars at Merced before the season's end, that has to be a factor in any decision. So basically, a good car count at Merced can only help the bay area Sport Mod cause.