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rogue_ryder
rogue_ryder
3/24/21 12:42 p.m.

My Googlefu couldn't find anything on this topic so forgive me if it's been covered before.

I wanted to know if anyone has or has even seen a "Modified" repurposed as a road course track day car?

Many years ago I used to see retried stock cars out on the track at test days.  But never a modified, but I assume that was because while I involved with SCCA racing I was only visiting tracks in the South East region where at the time asphalt modifieds may not have been very popular compared to North East.   I'm thinking this idea is feasible, especially considering that the NASCAR Modified tour in the Northeast runs on road courses or at least they have in the past at Lime Rock,  Watkins Glen and I'm sure others.  Not sure of the practicality as I've never seen it done, nor does there appear to much info or stories that I can find online.

I'm sure some of you might be asking "but why would you want to?".  Well to me I think Modifieds are one of the coolest looking race cars but maybe that's because they were some of the earliest race cars I was exposed to as a kid in the Northeast.  Anyway I like 'em. But also because I have seen the lower series chassis for sale at bargain basement prices, like <$2,000 for cars that were run on asphalt short tracks (not finding a former NASCAR Modified for those prices).  The cars I'm talking about are ones where owners pull the engines and trans and put them up for sale because they're no longer competitive in the Saturday night races at the roundy round (Locally know as the "Grand American Modifieds").  At our locally cars n coffee I've seen a modified that a guy bought, hacked off the body, and a lot of the bars and plopped on an old 30s Pickup and made it into a pretty sweet rat rod (there's actually been several builds like that around the country).  But I'm not looking to morph one of these into a street machine just a few weekends of work to get it back in action and out on the track.  

So why not put an engine and gear box in one, and switch up the suspension geometry to turn left AND right?  I think you could potentially have less money into an entire car for about the cost to put a cage in Miata!  And this would be a V8 open wheel car!  My idea wouldn't be campaigning the car in any class or competitive event just taking it out to test days/open lapping days, specifically at High Plains.  Engine wise a roller cam 350 set up to turn some RPM ,think cheap late 90s Vortec with a cam swap (and associated springs & roller rockers), and baffled oil pan and a simple Saginaw 4spd.  I think it could be a lot of fun with 400hp, big fat tires and fairly light weight.

 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
3/24/21 12:51 p.m.

These are fantastic cars.

For track days you could probably get the existing suspension to work well enough.

The only real issue is you will need to put some kind of fenders on the car; most track days do not allow open wheel cars, but that is a small hurdle to overcome. You could also build a sports racer style body to cover the wheels, the existing front/side/read nerf bars are probably sturdy enough to support bodywork. I don't know but it may also be possible to hang a dirt late model body on the frame.

BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter)
BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/24/21 1:02 p.m.

I think Tom1200 has hit on the major point - pretty much none of the track day/HPDE organisations allow open wheelers. Things change slightly when you're talking time trials, but for HPDE type events you need to turn it into less of an open wheel car.

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
3/24/21 1:20 p.m.
BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter) said:

I think Tom1200 has hit on the major point - pretty much none of the track day/HPDE organisations allow open wheelers. Things change slightly when you're talking time trials, but for HPDE type events you need to turn it into less of an open wheel car.

does that apply to exocets though?

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
3/24/21 1:39 p.m.
Apexcarver said:
BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter) said:

I think Tom1200 has hit on the major point - pretty much none of the track day/HPDE organisations allow open wheelers. Things change slightly when you're talking time trials, but for HPDE type events you need to turn it into less of an open wheel car.

does that apply to exocets though?

Yes I have friends with Exocets and one of the local clubs wanted fenders ala Lotus / Caterham 7.

BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter)
BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/24/21 1:55 p.m.

My understanding is that the reason for this is that if someone Spec Pinatas you in an open wheeler from a regular car, you tend to have a bad experience, more so than the other party involved. 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
3/24/21 1:56 p.m.

In reply to rogue_ryder :

There is one used for Hill climb racing. Exactly what you describe. The addition of some "fenders" over those big wide meats wouldn't be too hard, or expensive. Or take away the character  of the original. 
       You won't be happy racing that without a dry sump. But like me you'll spend endless amounts of money on baffles, accusumps, etc. and have to prove it to yourself  that dry sumps really are cheaper and easier.  Especially for a small block Chevy.   Buy a used one and have a reliable engine or blow up a few engines.  
       Hopefully you'll get one with a quick change rear end.  That will allow you to quickly set the car for different tracks and be right at peak power coming out of the turns.  
   The Saginaw 4 speed idea is cute. I love cheap too but look at those meats.  When you scatter that please don't waste money trying to get a Muncie  to last.   Syncro's  are for old ladies. They slow the shift at a time when  you want the opposite.   
   The Engine you describe should be plenty torquey  to live with 4 speeds. Don't waste money on 5-6 speeds. 5&6th gear are overdrives. You're not trying to get good gas mileage.   Geared properly you'll only need 3&4th even on the 4 mile long Elkhart Lake with its long straights. 

rogue_ryder
rogue_ryder New Reader
3/24/21 5:20 p.m.

Great info!  Good to know about  the Fenders! Fabbing up Super 7 style fenders as suggested would be pretty straight forward.  

Spot on about the Saginaw shattering into a thousand pieces, what works in a dirt car with skinny tires is probably not gonna work on road course, for very long.  :D Same with the dry sump being the optimal option for oiling.  I guess the trap door style pans we used to put on the IT cars ages ago were what initially had my brain headed in that direction.  Obviously if I get one of these things there's going to be a lot to learn, but I think it'd be a fun adventure.

BlindPirate
BlindPirate Reader
3/24/21 5:24 p.m.

So if you want a modified but need to have body work over the tires, wouldn't you want to start with a short track stock car?

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
3/24/21 5:34 p.m.

In reply to rogue_ryder :

I'd be tempted to start with a LS. Rather than a small block. But that's really up to you.  I mean I love the look of a small block on carbs but then I'm an Old Geezer.  
   Look up the modified that's running hill climb races. He really has a great writing style well punctuated with pictures.  If I weren't such a Luddite I'd have a link to it. Sorry. 
found it. 
Look for;  1990 Troyer modified 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
3/24/21 5:38 p.m.

In reply to BlindPirate :

The appeal is the modified look. Not just a cheap old stock car. 
    Being a cheapskate I'd make a pattern to go over the tires and then quick pop 4 fenders made with fiberglass or carbon fiber .  You could retain the look at a very nominal cost. And if a fender should be damaged or fail you've still got the mold.  

New York Nick
New York Nick GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/24/21 5:39 p.m.

I will say this about quick change rear ends: be ready to do maintenance. When working on Late Models we joked that the quick change takes as much maintenance and rebuild work as the engine does. You can't beat them and that's why everyone runs them but they are a boat kid if work. If you skip the maintenance it can be catastrophic too. 

BlindPirate
BlindPirate Reader
3/24/21 5:58 p.m.

They used to race Modifieds at Daytona, the Permatex 200? Some would try to cover their tires. Might find some inspiration there.

iceracer
iceracer MegaDork
3/24/21 6:00 p.m.

Be sure it is not set up for ovals only. 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
3/24/21 6:04 p.m.
iceracer said:

Be sure it is not set up for ovals only. 

Not usually a problem. Modifieds are adjustable. You can change suspension around and shift weight to where it will corner left and right.   
    If it's a Name brand or copy of a name brand get the pieces you need there or look at places like AFCO. Etc 

MotorsportsGordon
MotorsportsGordon Dork
3/24/21 6:47 p.m.

When they ran speedway modifieds on the super speedway at Daytona they had full bodywork mostly looking similar to imsa and trans am cars of the day.



 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
3/24/21 7:18 p.m.

If it were me I'd install a V8 that didn't need a dry sump, regardless of whether that's an LS, 5.0 or 1UZ and back it with a 5 speed.

Why the 5 speed? Becuase you can pick a rear end ratio that works for most tracks, for the longer tracks you.would use the 5th gear overdrive simply to keep the revs down. Remember this car isn't meant to be competitive.

Now as for the rear end I'd just use a Ford 9" as they are cheap and plentiful.

BlindPirate
BlindPirate Reader
3/24/21 7:19 p.m.

Early 70s they were more modified, less stock car

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
3/24/21 8:36 p.m.

In reply to Tom1200 :

You will find that as power, cornering, and braking increases the absolute need for oil control offered by a dry sump becomes acute.  
     I'm afraid a 5 speed does not offer the same benefits of a quick change. In conjunction with different tires it may be close. Yet not achieve the same effect. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
3/24/21 9:23 p.m.
frenchyd said:

In reply to Tom1200 :

You will find that as power, cornering, and braking increases the absolute need for oil control offered by a dry sump becomes acute.  
     I'm afraid a 5 speed does not offer the same benefits of a quick change. In conjunction with different tires it may be close. Yet not achieve the same effect. 

Agreed but this isn't meant to be a high end build. The point of 5th gear is to keep the car from bouncing off the rev limiter. For a non competition car who cares if the car won't pull that tall of a gear, the point is to keep the motor alive. 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
3/24/21 10:02 p.m.

In reply to Tom1200 :

I've seen used dry sump sets  sell cheap enough that you don't save much by trying otherwise.  
     As for 5 speeds. Some T5's  can't handle those tires and even a moderate small block.  Again I'm looking at places like racing junk. Those used NASCAR 4 speeds aren't that much more than the heavy duty 5-6 speeds needed.  
     While it's true you can pull the pumpkin of a 9 inch. To effect your gear change. You're looking at more time by hours over what a quick change will take.  Plus a decently set up 9 inch is massively more expensive than a set of gears for the quick change. Not to mention the likely hood of getting many sets with. The car. 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
3/24/21 10:06 p.m.
New York Nick said:

I will say this about quick change rear ends: be ready to do maintenance. When working on Late Models we joked that the quick change takes as much maintenance and rebuild work as the engine does. You can't beat them and that's why everyone runs them but they are a boat kid if work. If you skip the maintenance it can be catastrophic too. 

My Black Jack special had the little V8 Halibrand quick change . I freshened it up in 1975 when I got it and it lasted me and the next owner until Laguna  Seca  in 2014? When I suspect he sent it out without enough oil. The only maintenance I did was change the gear lube after every weekend. And make sure it was full after every gear set change.  Granted I used the proper climbing gear oil required but the welded up spider gears were old Ford   To give me a locked rear end. 
  My favorite track was Elkhart Lake Wisconsin.  4 miles long with tight corners following  the 3 long straights.  Between That and the 3 mile long Brainerd  the car saw 150+ mph approximately 1000 times a year not counting various other tracks around the country. 
        My question is what required so much maintinence?  

rogue_ryder
rogue_ryder New Reader
4/14/21 3:48 p.m.

In reply to MotorsportsGordon :

Great Post!

I actually found some footage of those old 1970s permatex 200 races at Daytona on Youtube last weekend! I never knew about these cars, so wild you posted them up here.  I thought the same thing in that they looked more like an IMSA car than a modified!  IMHO just as cool though.  I actually found an article about why the series was so short lived (3 years only).  The jist of the article was that 1, the cars were FASTER than the Cup cars (old Bill France couldn't have that) and 2ndly and probably most importantly was while half the field were extremely fast the other half of the field was 40-50mph slower!  https://speedsport.com/racing-history/modifieds-had-their-day-at-daytona-int-l-speedway/ sadly according to the article only 3 of the cars remain in existence today!  

While the Richie Evans Camaro was probably the best one to ever hit the track, the Gremlin would be so cool to find:

New York Nick
New York Nick GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/14/21 4:16 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

Sorry for not answering. I didn't see your question. 
if you don't overheat the grease it's not the end of the world but it's a maintenance thing you have to keep a check on. We had a supply of inner seals, outer seals, axle bearings, housing seals, ratchet springs, it wasn't uncommon to take the thing apart at the track.

rogue_ryder
rogue_ryder New Reader
4/14/21 4:22 p.m.

Thanks for all the replies GREAT info!

I've been digging more and more and did find the original post about the Hill Climb car a member here owns!  https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/1990-troyer-modified-hillclimber/73618/page1/  I wish I had found that before starting this thread as that is really close to what I'm envisioning.  While we have the most famous hill climb just a couple hours south of my house, I don't quite think I have the skill set to enter that event :D although my buddy and I did get our asses chewed out by the ranger up there for riding our motorcycles at a good clip on one of the paved sections (back when it was still partly dirt).  

wouldn't you want to start with a short track stock car?

I grew up in the North East and as a kid watched a lot of Modified Racing and have always loved the look of these cars.  Not to mention back then they had Big Blocks in 'em and nothing beats the sound of Big Block race engine. These cars are the New England Redneck version of an Indy car.  While a full bodied stock car meets requirements it's just not as interesting to me.  I'd also expect the Modified to weigh less making it a better car for an Amateur to run on a road course. Dollar wise an Modified is pretty inexpensive, an old roller can be had for as little as $2k and car that raced last season is $6-$10K without a motor.  

Many years ago when I was working for a Spec Miata shop; we were up at Road Atlanta on a test day  where all classes and types of cars are on the track together and one of our cars was on the track with a Dale Jr #8 car (pretty sure it was a former Cup car but with a different engine i.e. slower).  Our Miata came flying down hill through turn 12  and caught the Dale jr car on that front straight and passed him like he was standing still on the inside of turn 1 (the Dale car was being driven hard by whomever owned it and to be fair our particular driver of that Miata was FAST a previous SM SARRC winner).  Watching such a sad performance of a Cup car out on a road course against a Miata has also really ruined the idea of ever running one of those cars on a road course.  But on the other hand seeing those stock cars at test days also helped spawn this idea in my head.  

 

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