Whelen Modified Tour

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (WMT) (previously the NASCAR Winston Modified Tour and NASCAR Featherlite Modified Series) is a stock car racing series owned and operated by NASCAR in the Modified division. The Modified division is NASCAR's oldest division, and its only open-wheeled division. All 2006 Whelen Modified Tour events are in the Northeastern USA, but the 2007 Tour will race in the Midwest with a race in Mansfield, Ohio. The Whelen Southern Modified Tour, established in 2005, races in the Southeastern United States. The two tours race primarily on short oval paved tracks, but the WMT also has made appearances at larger ovals and road courses. The two tours have a combined race in Virginia.

Following elimination of the Elite division, NASCAR will feature Modified drivers (driving Grand National cars) with the Grand National Division in the Toyota All-Star Showdown in the fall of 2007.

As part of NASCAR's plan to cut costs and unify rules among different tours in the same division, the two Whelen Modified Tour divisions use identical rules.

The cars

Enlarge picture
#45 Modified car, courtesy of Navy Lakehurst
Whelen Modified Tour cars are substantially different from their NEXTEL Cup counterparts. Today's cars are based on tubular chassis built by fabricators such as Troyer Engineering, Chassis Dynamics, Spafco, and Raceworks. Bodies are partial versions of passenger cars, largely fabricated from sheetmetal, with the front wheels and much of the front suspension exposed. A NASCAR Modified is eleven inches shorter in height and over twenty-three inches wider than a Cup car. By rule, Tour-type Modifieds weigh at least 2610 pounds (with additional weight for engines 358 cubic inches and larger) and have a wheelbase of 107 inches. They are powered by small-block V-8 engines, usually of 355 to 368 cubic inches displacement, although larger or smaller engines can be used. Engine components are largely similar to those used in the Nextel Cup Series, but Whelen Modified Tour engines use a small four-barrel carburetor (rated at 390 cubic feet per minute, about half the airflow of previous Modified carburetors), which limits their output to 550 to 650 horsepower. On large tracks such as New Hampshire International Speedway, the engines must have a restrictor plate between the carburetor and intake manifold, reducing engine power and car speed for safety reasons. Approved body styles for 2006 include the Chevrolet Cavalier and Monte Carlo, the Dodge Avenger and Stealth, the Ford Mustang and Escort, the Plymouth Laser and Sundance, and the Pontiac Sunbird, J2000, and Grand Prix. [1]

History of the NASCAR Modified division

The NASCAR Modified division was formed as part of NASCAR's creation in December 1947. NASCAR held a Modified race as its first sanctioned event on February 15, 1948, on the beach course at Daytona Beach, Florida. Red Byron won the event and 11 more races that year, and won the first NASCAR Modified Championship. [2] (The Strictly Stock division, which evolved into today's premier series Nextel Cup, did not race until 1949.) Post-World War II Modifieds were a form of "stock car" (contrasted against purpose-built AAA Championship Cars, Sprints, and Midgets) which allowed some modification, typically substitution of stronger truck parts. Most cars were pre-WWII coupes and coaches. This pattern continued through the 1960s, with aftermarket performance parts and later-model chassis (such as the 1955-57 Chevrolet's frame) becoming more common. The Modifieds became known for technical innovation, both in homebuilt parts and in adapting components from other types of vehicle. By 1970, many Modifieds featured big-block engines, fuel injection, eighteen-inch-wide rear tires, radically offset engine location, and other technology that made them faster on short tracks than any full-bodied race cars including Grand National cars.[3]

The predecessor to the Whelen Modified Tour was NASCAR's National Modified Championship, which was determined by total points from weekly NASCAR-sanctioned races as well as a schedule of National Championship races. Parts of the northeastern and southeastern USA were hotbeds of Modified racing in the 1950s and 1960s; some racers competed five nights per week or more.[4] Often the same car was raced on both dirt and paved tracks, changing only tires and perhaps springs and shock absorbers.<ref name="Monnat" /> In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the technology of dirt and pavement Modifieds diverged to make them separate types of race car. NASCAR was no longer sanctioning dirt tracks which held modified races, so the NASCAR Modified rules became the standard for asphalt Modifieds. (Starting in the early 1970s, Northeastern USA dirt Modified racetracks began to join the DIRT organization founded by Glenn Donnelly.) Most unsanctioned tracks used similar Modified rules to NASCAR's, or specified the same cars with cost-limiting rules such as smaller engines or narrow tires.

In the 1980s, it became prohibitively expensive for Modified teams to tow long distances to sixty or more races per year, including Watkins Glen International and Daytona International Speedway, Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC, North Wilkesboro Speedway, and Martinsville Speedway, with the North Wilkesboro races part of the Cup weekend.

Richie Evans ran 66 NASCAR Modified features (and several unsanctioned events such as the Race of Champions) in 1984, the final year of the old system.<ref name="Bourcier" /> To enable more than a few teams to contend seriously for the championship, it was decided to reformat the Modified division's championship to a limited schedule of races not conflicting with one another. This change mirrored similar format changes to the Grand National (now NEXTEL Cup) division starting in 1972 and the Late Model Sportsman (now Busch Series) division starting in 1982.


Richie Evans' 1985 death at Martinsville, along with other asphalt Modified fatalities such as Charlie Jarzombek (in 1987), Corky Cookman (1987), Tommy Druar (1989), Don Pratt (1989), and Tony Jankowiak (1990), led to questions about car rigidity with Tour Modifieds, and safety changes.<ref name="Bourcier" /> In particular, straight frame rails were phased out, with new chassis required to have a step which could bend in hard impacts rather than passing the force to the driver. The death of Tom Baldwin, Sr in 2004 led to more safety modifications, with HANS devices (or equivalent) and left side headrests becoming mandatory. In response to the 2007 death of John Blewett III, teams and constructors are looking into further changes for safety.

After a severed wheel caused a fatality at an Indy Racing League race, NASCAR in July 1999 required the Featherlite Modified Series teams to add steel cables as tethers linking each front spindle to the chassis. [5]

History of the Modified Tour

The modern-day Modified Tour was first held in 1985 with 29 races, named the NASCAR Winston Modified Tour.<ref name="Bourcier" /> It switched sponsorship to the Featherlite Trailers brand in 1994, and was renamed to the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Series.

Two major changes to the Modified Tour came in 2005.

In 2005, Whelen Industries took over sponsorship of the series, which was renamed to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

Beginning in 2005 NASCAR sanctions a new modified division in the southeastern United States known as the Whelen Southern Modified Tour. The two tours agreed to run a combined race at Martinsville Speedway.


Richie Evans, who ties (with Mike Stefanik) the record for the most NASCAR championships with nine NASCAR Modified championships, won his last championship posthumously in 1985, the first year of the Winston Modified Tour. Driving cars built and maintained in his own shop for owner B.R. DeWitt, Evans won 12 of his 28 starts on the Tour, including five consecutive victories at five tracks in July and August. Billy Nacewicz was the team's crew chief.<ref name="Bourcier" /> Other strong contenders on the Tour included George Kent, Jimmy Spencer, Brian Ross, Reggie Ruggiero, Brett Bodine, Charlie Jarzombek, Jeff Fuller, George Brunnhoelzl, Doug Heveron, Jamie Tomaino, John Rosati, Corky Cookman, Greg Sacks, Mike McLaughlin, Mike Stefanik, and Bugs Stevens. Many other top racers focused on their local tracks but ran limited Tour schedules. In October, the season ended in tragedy when Evans was killed in an accident while practicing for the final race of the Tour season, the Winn-Dixie 500 at Martinsville Speedway. He had already clinched the title; Mike McLaughlin, driving for Len Boehler, finished second in the point standings.<ref name="Bourcier" />

Public stature

The series has been a minor league with a strong and loyal regional following. Most national media attention has appeared in racing-centered publications (magazines such as Stock Car Racing Magazine or Speedway Illustrated, or newspapers such as National Speed Sport News or Speedway Scene) rather than general mass media. In the 21st century, several books about historical Modified drivers have been published.

Nobody who was then driving full-time in Nextel Cup has competed in Whelen Modified Tour events except occasional one-time appearances. However, Geoff Bodine, Brett Bodine, Steve Park, and Jimmy Spencer went on from WMT competition to become race winners at the Cup level. Other WMT veterans such as Mike McLaughlin, and Jeff Fuller have advanced to become race winners and championship contenders in the Busch Series, the top minor league under Nextel Cup. Nextel Cup crew chiefs that started in WMT include Tommy Baldwin Jr. and Greg Zipadelli.

In recent years, small numbers of races in the Whelen Modified Tour have aired on network television, with none appearing on prime-time television.

Traditionally, there are two weekends when the Modifieds run as part of the undercard for the Nextel Cup: i.e., the July and September races at New Hampshire International Speedway. In the past, Modifieds ran with the Cup cars at Martinsville, and the old SMART tour (which today would be the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour) at North Wilkesboro with Cup cars. Typically, a name driver is recruited to participate in the race to pique the interest of casual fans. For example, Nextel Cup driver Carl Edwards and defending Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart raced in the July 2006 race.

Whelen Modified Tour champions

Click here for a list of all champions including 1948-84 National Modified Champions.

Year Driver Team Owner Wins Number Make Sponsor Chassis
2007Donny LiaBob Garbarino/Mystic Missile Racing6#4DodgeMystic River MarinaTroyer
2006Mike StefanikEric Sanderson/Flamingo Motorsports1#16PontiacDiversified MetalsTroyer
2005Tony Hirschman, Jr.Bob and Tom Kehley5#48ChevroletKamco SupplyTroyer
2004Tony Hirschman, Jr.Bob and Tom Kehley4#48ChevroletKamco SupplyTroyer
2003Todd SzegedyDon Barker4#50FordHaynes MaterialsChassis Dynamics
2002Mike StefanikArt Barry2#21ChevroletLombardi's Inside-OutSpafco
2001Mike StefanikArt Barry3#21ChevroletNew England EggSpafco
2000Jerry MarquisMario Fiore5#44PontiacTeddy Bear PoolsTroyer
1999Tony Hirschman, Jr.Gary Cretty6#25DodgeATCStefanik
1998Mike StefanikPeter Beal/Charlie Bacon13#x6ChevroletBurnham BoilersStefanik
1997Mike StefanikPeter Beal/Charlie Bacon10#x6ChevroletBurnham BoilersStefanik
1996Tony Hirschman, Jr.Lenny Boehler/BRE Racing3#3ChevroletBRE RacingBRE
1995Tony Hirschman, Jr.Lenny Boehler/BRE Racing1#3ChevroletBRE RacingBRE
1994Wayne AndersonLenny Boehler/BRE Racing#3ChevroletBRE RacingBRE
1993Rick FullerCurt Chase Racing2#77PontiacPolar BeveragesSpafco
1992Jeff FullerSheba Racing#8ChevroletSunoco Race FuelsTroyer
1991Mike StefanikJack Koszela5#15PontiacAuto Palace / ADAPStefanik
1990Jamie TomainoDanny Ust1#U2PontiacTroyer
1989Mike StefanikJack Koszela7#15ChevroletKoszela SpeedStefanik
1988Mike McLaughlinSherwood Racing Team5#12ChevroletSherri-CupRaceWorks
1987Jimmy SpencerFrank Cicci Racing6#24OldsmobileApple House Trucking / Quick Stop BeverageTroyer
1986Jimmy SpencerFrank Cicci Racing4#24OldsmobileApple House Trucking / Quick Stop BeverageTroyer
1985Richie EvansB.R.DeWitt12#61ChevroletDeWitt ConstructionEvans

Whelen Modified Tour Rookie of the Year award winners

Year Driver
2006James W. Civali
2005Tyler Haydt
2004Ken Barry
2003Donny Lia
2002Todd Szegedy
2001Ricky Miller
2000Michael Boehler
1999Dave Pecko

Whelen Modified Tour Most Popular Driver award winners

Year Driver
2006Tony Hirschman Jr.
2005Tony Hirschman Jr.
2004Tom Baldwin
2003Tom Baldwin
2002Ed Flemke Jr.
2001Mike Stefanik
2000Rick Fuller
1999Reggie Ruggiero
1998Mike Stefanik
1997Mike Stefanik
1996Steve Park
1995Steve Park
1994Jeff Fuller
1993Jeff Fuller
1992Jeff Fuller
1991Satch Worley
1990Satch Worley
1989Reggie Ruggiero
1988Reggie Ruggiero
1987Jamie Tomaino
1986Jamie Tomaino
1985Mike McLaughlin

Pre-Tour NASCAR Modified Most Popular Driver award winners

Year Driver
1984Brian Ross
1983Richie Evans
1982Richie Evans
1981Richie Evans
1980Richie Evans
1979Richie Evans
1978Richie Evans
1977Harry Gant
1976Jerry Cook
1975Richie Evans
1974Richie Evans
1973Richie Evans
1972Bugs Stevens
1971Bugs Stevens
1970Ray Hendrick
1969Ray Hendrick
1968Red Farmer
1967Al Grinnan
1966Runt Harris
1965Bobby Allison

NASCAR Modified All-Time Top 10 drivers

The following drivers were named to the NASCAR Modified All-Time Top 10 list[1] in 2003 :
  1. Richie Evans - Evans won nine Modified titles between 1973 and 1985, a championship total that was unmatched in all of NASCARhttp://www.nascar.com/2003/news/headlines/official/top_ten/09/12/top10_modified/index.html until Stefanik's championship in 2006, 52 wins in 84 NASCAR and unsanctioned events in 1979<ref name="Bourcier" />
  2. Mike Stefanik - 7 WMT and 2 Busch North championships
  3. Jerry Cook - 6 NASCAR National Modified Championships in the 1970s, helped direct the series' changes as series director in 1985
  4. Ray Hendrick - "Mr. Modified" raced "anything, anywhere" in the 1950s to 1970s
  5. Geoff Bodine - in the Guinness Book of World Records for winning 55 Modified races in 1978
  6. Tony Hirschman, Jr. - has won 5 WMT championships
  7. Bugs Stevens - won three consecutive NASCAR National Modified Championships in 1967-69
  8. Fred DeSarro - 1970 NASCAR National Modified Champion
  9. Jimmy Spencer - 1986 and 1987 WMT champion
  10. Reggie Ruggiero - the "best driver to never win a championship", his 44 victories rank him second to Stefanik since the modern era began in 1985

2007 schedule

Whelen Modified Tour

Combined North-South Race for Both Tours

Notes and references

1. ^ 2006 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Media Guide. NASCAR, Daytona Beach, Florida, USA.
2. ^ www.livinglegendsofautoracing.com/drivers_pages/drivers_red_by.html
3. ^ "Through the Years at Shangri-La: The Final Chapter". Monnat, Michael E. Gater Racing News, August 26, 2005.
4. ^ Bourcier, Bones. RICHIE!: The Fast Life and Times of NASCAR's Greatest Modified Driver (1st ed., 2004). Newburyport, Massachusetts, USA: Coastal 181. ISBN 0-9709854-6-0
5. ^ Jewett, Larry: "Innovations in Safety", Stock Car Racing (ISSN 0734-7340), Vol. 35, No. 5 (May 2000), pp. 62-63.

See also

External links

Stock car racing is a form of automobile racing found mainly in the United States and Great Britain held largely on oval rings of between approximately a quarter-mile and 2.66 miles (about 0.4 to 4.2 kilometres) in length, but also raced occasionally on road courses.
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Sport governing body

Category Stock cars
Area of jurisdiction Canada,United States,Mexico
Formation date 1948
Headquarters Daytona Beach, Florida
Charlotte, North Carolina
New York City, New York

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"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
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The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour (WSMT) is a stock car racing series owned by NASCAR and operated in the Southeastern United States as part of its Modified Division.
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Category Stock car racing
Country or region  United States
Inaugural season
Drivers 49
Teams 22
Engine suppliers 4
Drivers' champion Jimmie Johnson
Teams' champion Hendrick Motorsports

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New Hampshire International Speedway is a 1.058 mile (1703 m) oval track which has hosted NASCAR racing since the 1990s. It is commonly referred to by its location, Loudon.
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Restrictor plate or air restrictor is a device installed at the intake of an engine to limit its power. This kind of system is occasionally used in road vehicles (e.g.
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Chevrolet Cavalier was Chevrolet's version of the compact GM J platform. The book American Automobile 1983-1993 notes that the Cavalier was aimed at quality imports such as the Honda Accord.
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Chevrolet Monte Carlo was an American mid-size car. Originally introduced by Chevrolet for the 1970 model year (as competition with the Ford Thunderbird), it has gone through six generations as of 2007.
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Dodge Avenger coupe (1995-2000)
  • The Dodge Avenger Concept from the 2003 North American International Auto Show
  • The Dodge Avenger (JS) sedan released in 2007 for the 2008 model year.
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  • GTO, see Mitsubishi Galant GTO.

    The Mitsubishi GTO is the name of two different sports cars built by Mitsubishi Motors, both of which were rebadged for many export markets.
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    Ford Mustang is an automobile produced by the Ford Motor Company, originally based on the Ford Falcon compact.[1] The first production Mustang rolled off the assembly line in Dearborn, Michigan on March 9, 1964, and was introduced to the public at the New York World's
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    Plymouth Laser was a sports coupe made by Diamond Star Motors. It was a rebadged Mitsubishi Eclipse and was also twins with the Eagle Talon.

    The Laser debuted in January 1989 as a 1990 model. It was launched at the same time as the Mitsubishi Eclipse.
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    Plymouth Sundance was a compact car produced from 1986 (as a 1987 model) to 1994. It was designed to compete with upmarket compacts such as the Geo Prizm, Ford Escort and the Honda Civic after the life of the Horizon was to be extended.
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    Pontiac Sunbird.


    The first generation Pontiac Sunbird was a rear-wheel drive subcompact sporty car. It was originally intended to compete with other small sporty cars, such as the Toyota Celica, Capri II, and the Ford Mustang II.
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    Pontiac Grand Prix is an automobile produced by the Pontiac division of General Motors. First introduced as part of Pontiac's full-size model offering for the 1962 model year, the Grand Prix name has also been applied to cars in the personal luxury car market segment and the
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    Robert "Red" Byron (March 12, 1915 - November 11, 1960) was a NASCAR driver who was successful in the sanctioning body's first years. He was NASCAR's first Modified champion (and its first champion in any division) in 1948 and its first Strictly Stock (predecessor to NEXTEL Cup)
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    Allied powers:
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    The AAA (usually read triple-A, or sometimes three As), formerly known as the American Automobile Association, is an American not-for-profit automobile lobby group and service organization.
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    Category Open wheel racing
    Country or region International
    Inaugural season See text
    Drivers 17[1]
    Teams 9<ref name="entrylist2007" />
    Constructors Panoz
    Engine suppliers Cosworth

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    Watkins Glen International (nicknamed "The Glen") is an auto race track located near Watkins Glen, New York at the southern tip at Seneca Lake owned by International Speedway Corporation.
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    Daytona International Speedway is a superspeedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is a 2.5 mile (4 km) tri-oval race track facility with a seating capacity of 168,000 spectators.
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    Bowman Gray Stadium is a NASCAR sanctioned 1/4-mile asphalt flat oval short track and football stadium located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It is one of stock car racing's most legendary venues, and is referred to as "NASCAR's longest running weekly race track".
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    North Wilkesboro Speedway is a short track which held races in NASCAR's top three series from NASCAR's inception in 1949 until its closure in 1996.

    The track is located on U.S. Route 421 about four miles east of the city North Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
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    Martinsville Speedway is an International Speedway Corporation-owned NASCAR stock car racing track located in Martinsville, Virginia. At 0.526 miles in length, it is the shortest track in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.
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    Richard Ernest Evans (b. July 23 1941[1] - d. October 24 1985), was an American racing driver who won nine NASCAR National Modified Championships, including eight in a row from 1978 to 1985.
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    Category Stock car racing
    Country or region  United States
    Inaugural season
    Drivers 49
    Teams 22
    Engine suppliers 4
    Drivers' champion Jimmie Johnson
    Teams' champion Hendrick Motorsports

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    Sport Auto racing
    Founded 1981
    No. of teams 25
    Country(ies)  Canada
     United States

    Most recent champion(s) Kevin Harvick The NASCAR Busch Series is a stock car racing series owned and operated by NASCAR.
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    Charlie Jarzombek (? – April 1987) was an American racecar driver from Baiting Hollow, New York.

    Racing career

    He started racing in 1962 on the Long Island tracks of Islip, Riverhead Raceway and Freeport Stadium.
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