Supermodifieds, the world’s fastest asphalt short-track racers, will return to the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, Nov. 1, for SPEEDFEST 2008.
SPEEDFEST 2008, a one-day speed spectacular which runs in conjunction with the NHRA ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at LVMS, is the Bullring’s final race out the 2008 season and features SMRA Supermodifieds, USAC Western States Midgets and the SRL Southwest Tour Series.
The Supermodifieds reach speeds in excess of 130 mph on short tracks and have a colorful past. The class, often referred to as “unlimited” by enthusiasts, began life in the late 1950s as “cut-downs” or – depending on which part of the country you are from – “bugs.” This type of race car started life as a pair of frame rails and a heavily-abbreviated 1930s coupe body (hence the name, “cut-downs”). Ford flatheads or GM six-cylinder engines supplied the power to recapped tires.
Through the 1960s and 1970s, the class evolved into an exotic, “anything-goes” division. Rulebooks were thin and most Supermodified tracks mandated only a maximum tire width (as wide as 17 in., depending on the track), overall width and engine location. This is where the class developed its ties to the Indianapolis 500: some teams purchased retired Indy roadsters and adapted them for Supermodified racing, replacing the Offenhauser power plants with Chevrolet engines in excess of 427 cu. in. A number of Indianapolis 500 drivers, including Gordon Johncock and Davey Hamilton used Supermodifieds as a springboard to the Brickyard.
Other drivers converted USAC Sprint Cars – referred to as “uprights” by the faithful followers because of the driver’s seating arrangement – for asphalt use
Before Geoff Bodine gained fame as a winning NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver in the 1980s, he debuted a rear-engine Indy 500 car at Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway in 1972. Although fast, the car was difficult to repair because replacement parts were not readily available in N.Y. Because the Supermodifieds raced only one night a week in N.Y., Boding abandoned the venture and returned to competition in asphalt Modifieds, which ran as many as four nights per week during the summer months.
Today’s Supermodified is light years away from the original design. The huge wing atop the car generates downforce on the wide tires and affords higher speeds in the turns. The engine now literally sits outside the left frame rail and is tilted to shift as much weight to the left side of the car as possible. The big-block Chevrolet engines incorporate sophisticated fuel-injection systems and alcohol is the fuel of choice.
To watch one Supermodified circle a speedway is spectacular; to witness an entire field of Supermodifieds racing on a track simply is breathtaking.
Eastern hot shoe Justin Belfiore will tow from Haverhill, Mass. to Las Vegas to challenge the SMRA Supermodified racers from Colo., Texas, Calif., Utah and Wash. Belfiore, an eight-year veteran of the winged wars, calls Lee (N.H.) Speedway home and competes on the International SuperModified Association (ISMA) circuit. Belfiore’s car has a local connection: it is owned by his father, Jim, of Las Vegas.
Headlining the parade of “full-blown” USAC Midgets at LVMS will be Michael Faccinto of Hanford, Calif., driver of the MOPAR entry fielded by NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car star Gary Scelzi.
The Flashco 100 for the SRL Southwest Tour is the 2008 season finale for the touring series and Jim Petit II of Prunedale, Calif., leads Craig Raudman and Greg Voigt in a tight battle for the crown.
Also included in the SPEEDFEST 2008 show will be appearances by NHRA pro drivers, a drifting exhibition by MOPAR driver Samuel Hubinette and INEX Bandolero racing.
Adult admission for SPEEDFEST 2008 is only $19. Children ages 6-12 are $6 and kids 5 and under are free. The Bullring offers a family-friendly dollar menu, featuring $1 hot dogs, $1 soda and $1 beer.
For tickets and additional information, please call LVMS at (702) 644-4444 or visit www.LVMS.com.
Nov. 1 Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway SPEEDFEST 2008
Phoenix Racing Fuels Torco SMRA Supermodified Classic (qualifying, dash, last-chance race and 50-lap feature). USAC Western States Midgets Fall 40 (qualifying, heat races, last-chance race and 40-lap feature). SRL Southwest Tour Series Flashco 100 (qualifying, dash, last-chance race and 100-lap feature). Also: Appearance by Samuel Hubinette and the Mopar Drift Viper, INEX-sanctioned Bandoleros and NHRA driver appearances.