45 YEARS OF WINGED SUPERMODIFIED RACING

Eight-time ISMA champion Russ Wood (left), six-time champ Chris Perley (center) and three-time champ Pat Abold
Eight-time ISMA champion Russ Wood (left), six-time champ Chris Perley (center) and three-time champ Pat Abold

The International Super Modified Association was founded in 1974 by multi-time Oswego Speedway champions Jim Shampine and Nolan Swift to ensure the future and longevity of supermodified racing. With the help of a Central New York businessman, Tom Heveron, Shampine and Swift formed ISMA as a forum for owners and drivers to express their ideas and opinions.

ISMA’s initial goals were to upgrade supermodified racing with better safety conditions, offer more events per season, ensure sufficient purses, and aid drivers and teams. The association worked with track managements in making decisions and in discussing ways of improvement.

The club encouraged new drivers and owners to join supermodified racing, worked to capture racetracks’ interest in supermodified racing, and helped to promote the division to a wider audience.

Heveron became the original ISMA president and was aided by Shampine as the vice president and Fred Graves as the secretary and treasurer. These three men and numerous others led ISMA through its developmental stages.

The early years

The new supermodified racing association soon negotiated with western New York’s Lancaster Speedway, now known as Dunn Tire Raceway Park, for a 40-lap race held on July 3, 1974 which saw Richwood, Ohio’s Todd Gibson garner the association’s first feature win. The following year ISMA booked races at Fulton (N.Y.) Speedway with a $5,000 purse and $1,000 to win.

In 1976, ISMA developed a point fund with tracks contributing $500- $1,000 per race to this fund. Unlike most other point systems, ISMA adopted a system that awards points to the car owners, citing the fact that the association was an owners club rather than drivers. This “owners points” policy is still intact today.

By 1977 ISMA had accomplished sanctioning over $96,000 in purse money and races, adding a point fund of $4,400 paid by promoters, offering tow money at all ISMA-sanctioned races, having insurance certificates from each promoter on file, and working with other promoters for more races.

The ’77 season saw ISMA events at Ontario, Canada’s Delaware and Flamboro speedways, New Hampshire’s Star Speedway, Connecticut’s Thompson Int’l Speedway and Fulton. Over 35 years later, Delaware, Star and Thompson continue as ISMA host tracks.

ISMA pioneered the franchise system in supermodified racing, in which teams purchase a franchise at the beginning of the season. Creating a win-win situation for both the teams and promoters, franchise teams are required to attend a certain number of races each year while being guaranteed a minimum starting purse at each event a considerable amount more than non-franchised cars. This system helps to ensure solid, stable car counts and a successful event for the promoter.

Recent years

Today, ISMA normally sanctions between 8 to 12 nights of racing a year, including two of the prestigious supermodified races – the July Hy-Miler Nationals at Sandusky (Ohio) Speedway, which has been a staple ISMA event since 1978, and September’s Bob Webber Memorial Star Classic 125 at the quarter-mile Star bullring, an event that has a history dating over 45 years.

ISMA has a long history of racing at the Home of the Supermodifieds, Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway, and has three events scheduled at the five-eighths-mile oval in 2022. Oswego remains the only track to race big-block supermodifieds on a weekly basis in the summer as the headline class.

The annual Ollie Silva Memorial 75 at Lee USA (N.H.) Speedway is another staple ISMA race held each August in honor of the New England supermodified racing legend.

2020 season

As was the case for many racing organizations, 2020 was a year of challenge due for ISMA with the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in an abbreviated season. With the Canadian border shut down and several ISMA teams and many members located north of the border, officials ruled that no matter how many races were held, no points would be awarded.

The 2020 season, albeit unofficially, didn’t open until July 24-25 with the Hy-Miler Nationals at Sandusky running as a two-night non-sanctioned event. After Sandusky, three races (Lee USA, Star and Thompson) made up the abbreviated series.

2021 season

The Canadian border remained closed throughout 2021 although officials determined a 2021 points series would be held. The border closure affected car counts all year and a scheduled event at Jukasa Speedway in Ontario was forced to be cancelled.

Claremont Speedway in New Hampshire was a new track added to the schedule in 2021 and Jennerstown Speedway in western Pennsylvania returned to the series after a multi-year absence. Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts also returned to the series after many years away with a Wednesday night non-points show opening the tour in early June. Traditional events at Sandusky, Oswego and Star remained on the schedule with Monadnock and Lee USA speedways in New Hampshire filling the nine-race series.

Thompson Speedway did not return to the schedule in 2021.

2022 season

ISMA will work closely with Oswego Speedway and the Midwest Supermodified Series (MSS) in 2022. Three ISMA races will be held at Oswego as a part of the new Winged Supermodified Challenge promoted by John Nicotra and others. MSS and Oswego are co-sanctioning the races in an effort to bolster car counts at the track most centrally located for most supermodified teams.

Three additional nights of racing – one at Jennerstown in June and two at Berlin (Mich.) Speedway in July – will be co-sanctioned shows between ISMA and MSS. ISMA “standalone” events (not co-sanctioned) in 2022 include the two-night Hy-Miler Nationals at Sandusky in July, a second consecutive-year visit to Claremont and the annual Bob Webber Sr. Memorial Star Classic.