Naples Me. – Excitement is building in anticipation of the sophomore season for The New England Super Modified Tour (NESS) which is kicking off its steady nine race schedule at the Thunder Road Speed bowl on June 9th. With less than three weeks until opening day at the “Nations Site of Excitement”, drivers are busily preparing their high powered, big winged Supermodifieds to turn sub 10 second laps around the steeply banked ¼ mile oval in Barre Vermont.
The 2023 edition of NESS includes a pair of visits to the aforementioned Thunder Road with a second date on September 30th. Oxford Plains Speedway will dot the schedule three times with dates on July 8th, August 5th, and August 26th as a part of the 50th annual Oxford 250 weekend. White Mountain Motorsports Park has one date on July 14th and a 2nd to be confirmed on September 16th. Finally the High banked 5/8 Mile Thompson Speedway Plays host to NESS on June 21st and again on October 7th as a part of the World Series of racing.
Officials on the NESS tour have worked hard to keep the schedule compact and easy on the teams with as few conflicts as possible. NESS has also strived to create a rule book that promotes close competition, fair and equitable rules, and cost containment to reign in spiraling costs for all teams. “One of the biggest things NESS has done is cut down on travel cost,” said car owner Howie Lane. “There is a lot of driver’s right here in New England with Supermodifieds that just can’t afford to travel to Ohio and Michigan to race. These teams are made up of guys that have to be at work Monday morning. NESS gives us a place to race without having to book hotel rooms and travel hundreds of miles.”
The sentiment was echoed by Windham Maine’s Bobby Timmons III. “For us, we just love Supermodified racing and have always had to travel. It’s nice having a big block series that races in our back yard.” said Timmons. The Timmons family has a long tradition of Supermodified racing with Timmons III being a third generation driver, and the NESS tour has given them the ability to add more races to their schedule.
The June 9th opening day at Thunder Road is shaping up to be one of the best NESS shows yet. Lane cited the smaller tracks on the NESS tour as another added safety benefit. “These smaller tracks naturally keep speeds in check and the racing close, said Lane. “Things happen very fast in a Supermodified.” Lane also cited the possibility of higher car counts at the opener in Vermont. “With all the guys I have talked to, I’d say we may have 12 to 14 entries in Thunder Road including guys like Ben Seitz, Anthony Nocella, Russ Wood, and Matt Swanson. That many cars on that small track should make for some great racing.”
Inaugural NESS Champion Robbie Summers has also filed an entry for Thunder Road as he plans to defend his title in 2023. In addition to cost savings on travel, Summers cites other cost savings measures implemented by officials on the NESS tour. “Everything has changed so much since Covid and the cost of everything has gone up so much. NESS has made the 572 Spec motor option available which saves about 10 to 15 thousand dollars on a motor. But they have also implemented a gear rule for the open motors, and by doing that they have made them last 1 to 2 years now instead of 6 races. That’s a big help.”
Supermodified racing is a “different kind of racing” said Summers. Big Block engines mounted on the side of the car, giant wings atop the chassis, and huge slick tires mean speeds not commonly seen at the local short track. Typically in racing, speed means more money, and that is where NESS steps in. Said Summers, “They (NESS) have done everything in their power to make it affordable and keep it alive while bringing in new blood.” Local short track aces like Derek Griffith, Nick Sweet, and Derek Ranstrom have all taken turns behind the wheel of a Supermodified, with Griffith snagging a win at Oxford last year.
The NESS tour has also implemented additional protocols like the tire program in order to help even the competition. Drivers now must chose and mount their tires at the race track on race day vs in advance. This is a regulation that helps monitor any chemical altering of tires pervious to the event, and therefore cutting down on more costs and man power.
NESS president Tom Mayberry is optimistic for the coming season. “We have had a tremendous amount of interest in the off-season,” said Mayberry. “We think this is on the verge of becoming something big enough to do 8 to 10 very big races every year. We are going to keep working on cost savings so we can build this thing into something special.”
With the unique appearance of a Supermodified, the high speeds, and a crop of new drivers and wily veterans, the NESS tour is poised to launch to the next level in 2023.
For technical information concerning all PASS/NESS divisions, and for media, please contact [email protected].
-New England Supermodified Series Release
-Photo credit: Will Bellamy/Racing America