"66" EQUAL "99"?
it’s the NASCAR Whelen Modified “66/99” presented by
Town Fair Tire, Saturday, September 17, at Lime Rock
The Whelen Tour’s only road race of the year – that
in itself is of particular interest – is 66 laps of
Lime Rock’s 1.5-mile, 8-turn NASCAR configuration.
And that comes to 99 miles of wild Modified racing.
There are two things going on here, from a potential
fan’s point of view.
1. Sports car road racing fan might be thinking,
“Oh, those Mods will be clumsy at Lime Rock.” Let me
tell you, that is NOT the case. A NASCAR Whelen Mod
is very low, has a really good center of gravity,
wears big, grippy Hoosiers, makes gobs of
horsepower, and the gearboxes and brakes are
stronger than dirt. They hit almost 150 mph on Lime
Rock’s front straight. And even Skip Barber happens
to believe that if you’re a really good driver,
you’re a really good driver. Road course, ovals, it
doesn’t matter – the talent shows. We saw that last
year from Todd Szegedy, Dale Quarterley, Teddy
Christopher and about 10 others, so we hope sports
car fans aren’t looking down their noses at a Whelen
Mod Tour driver.
2. “Only oval” race fans need to get off their
grandstand bench seat, grab a comfy lawn chair and a
cooler and come take a look at what a star Mod
driver can do on a road course – with seven right
turns and just one left. They are good – Szegedy won
two SCCA sports car championships before he went
NASCAR racing – and there’s nothin’ like getting up
close to the Mods if someone goes to watch them at
the Uphill corner: you’re practically looking
straight down on them, from 30 feet away.
The way I see it, both kinds of fans have reason to
Okay, we’ll admit Lime Rock Park has hedged its bets
a bit... also racing are the two best Formula Ford
series in North America, the F2000 Championship
Series and the new F1600 Formula F Championship
Series. Both series have giant fields and the
competition is fierce. You don’t believe, just ask
I compared a Grand-Am Daytona Prototype sports car
to a Whelen Modified at Lime Rock Park. Interested?
* A Daytona Prototype makes 500 h.p., weighs around
2,400 lbs. and is aerodynamically efficient. It uses
a sophisticated 5- or 6-speed sequential shift
* A Whelen Modified makes 600 h.p., weighs around
2,600 lbs. and is as aerodynamically efficient as a
barn door. The gearbox is a 4-speed Jericho, with
first gear removed for Lime Rock
* A Grand-Am DP has an average lap speed of a bit
more than 110 mph at Lime Rock Park; not far behind,
a Whelen Mod has an average lap speed of a bit more
than 102 mph.
* The DP lap time is a tick under 49 seconds; the
Mod does it in 53 seconds flat
* At the apex of the Downhill, a DP is going 124
mph; the Mod around 116 mph
* The DP reaches 161 mph on the front straight, the
Mod 148 mph
For the record, Szegedy took pole position for Lime
Rock’s Whelen Modified race last year. Here is what
he told me a couple weeks after the race... “I love
the Daytona Prototypes, great cars. Man, I’d love to
drive one. But I tell you, if you gave me a set of
really sticky tires and a road-race tranny for my
Wisk Ford, I could easily take 2.5 seconds, maybe
more, off my lap times.”
All of which means that a well-driven mod is fast at
Lime Rock Park. Why wouldn’t you want to cover that?
Source: Rick Roso / Lime Rock Park