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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



"66" EQUAL "99"?

When it’s the NASCAR Whelen Modified “66/99” presented by Town Fair Tire, Saturday, September 17, at Lime Rock Park.

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 come.

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 the drivers.

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 gearbox

* 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
Posted: September 7. 2011

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