limited in several key areas in its ability to
properly use it – which is half the challenge.
Those limitations mean that the chassis
and suspension are absolutely critical to
building a car that will get around a
quarter-, third- or half-mile track as quickly
as possible. Steve Teets of Short Track Race
Cars has built a whole bunch of Modifieds –
about half the field on any given Saturday.
ig horsepower and small tires are
either a recipe for disaster or great
entertainment. In the case of the Lucas
Oil Modified Series Presented by
LoanMart, it’s definitely the latter.
It’s a style of short track racing that
differs from the typical stock car formula
of lots of power, but plenty of grip. Take
away a lot of tire and a lot of brake, as is
the case with the Modifieds, and the
driving and racing change significantly.
“The biggest thing with these cars is
they’re high horsepower to low tire,”
explains two-time Lucas Oil Modifieds
champion Jim Mardis. “You don’t have
aftermarket brakes, so you can’t whoa
them down all that well. The tire’s good
for a couple of laps, but you’re on an
eight-inch treaded tire, so it doesn’t have
the grip like some of the bigger late
model stock cars do. So you’re running a
real fine balance, trying to find the right
horsepower and trying to get it down to
the ground. It’s just a high horsepower car
with no tire, and it’s real finicky, so you’ve
got to have finesse behind the wheel.”
A modified looks like nothing else in
racing. More open-wheeler than
closed-body stock car, only one of the
wheels sits inside a fender; the rest are
out in the airflow. Rules are minimal; the
engine rule, for example, is basically that
it’s iron block, American-made, limited to
410cu.in. and capable of being mounted
in a production car. That gives a lot of
room to produce a lot of horsepower.
In contrast to the freedom on the
engine side, brakes must be OEM calipers
with steel rotors. The 8in., grooved Hoosier
700 tire only adds to the dichotomy of
putting a heap of power into a car that’s
FOR MORE ON LUCAS OIL MOTORSPORTS AND ITS RACE-PROVEN LUBRICANTS, GO TO LUCASOIL.COM/MOTORSPORTS
(MAIN) Modifieds look like nothing
else in oval-track racing – and with
the significant horsepower that they
produce offset by skinny 8in. tires
(ABOVE RIGHT) and near-standard
brakes, the racing’s different, too.
Two-time Lucas Oil Modified champ
Jim Mardis (RIGHT) says finesse
behind the wheel is crucial for success.
LUCAS OIL MODIFIED SERIES PRESENTED BY LOANMART
He sets up quite a few of them at the track
and provides shock packages for many
more. He is, in short, the Modified guru.
“The tire doesn’t have a real good
sidewall, so you’ve got to play with the
pressures and stuff,” he says. “The idea
with the chassis is to make those four
tires work as well as they can, and this
tire is a lot different from a lot of others.
“We try to get the cars down as low as
we can and get the CG down to transfer the
least amount of weight off the left side,” he
adds. “Whoever uses the left-side tires the
best is going to have the best racecar.”
One of Teets’ customers is defending
champion Chris Gerchman. The youngest
in a line of short track racers, Gerchman
led most of the race at a recent outing at
Irwindale Event Center, before being passed
in the closing stages by Dylan Capello, who
led the 2014 points as of mid-August. For
a driver, Gerchman notes, trying to
achieve Teets’ goals in a limited amount
of track time comes down to experience.
“Trying to figure out what the car
needs is where the experience comes in,”
Gerchman says of trying to set it up for
the race in only a few laps of practice.
“You’ve got to know what the feeling is.
The more you achieve it, the more you’re