If you like fast - bad fast - the International Super Modified Association is for you.
Averaging speeds of over 120 miles per hour on a half-mile asphalt racing surface, ISMA Supermodifieds are considered by many as among the fastest cars on asphalt. These unique, lightning-fast cars will begin their 2014 campaign on May 4 at the “Irish” Jack Murphy Memorial at Oswego Speedway in New York.
A number of strong competitors are projected to compete for the championship this season. Among those drivers is 2013 ISMA champion Lou Cicconi, who also serves as a member on the board of directors for the sanctioning body founded in 1974.
Cicconi used a strong start – a second and a first place finish – at Oswego Speedway in 2013 to build momentum for his championship run and hopes to repeat that process again this season.
“It’s always important to have a strong start no matter where you start at,” Cicconi told Speed51.com presented by JEGS. “The fact that it’s Oswego adds to the significance and the importance of having a strong start. Oswego is a really good race track and they have a lot of competitors that are really fast there. That part there is a struggle because there’s such a fine line between a car that handles and a car that doesn’t handle that it makes a gigantic difference in speed. You’ve got to be on your speed to go fast.”
Following the 2013 season, the Pennsylvania native stepped away from his ride with Vic Miller Racing – the team he won the championship with – and agreed to drive the No. 61 Clyde Booth-owned car for the 2014 season. Once again driving for a veteran car owner and proven team, Cicconi looks forward to being in the championship battle again.
“The car owner is very intelligent and very cutting-edge with his racecars,” said Cicconi. “If the car works just a tenth of what we’d like it to I think we’ll be really good. I’m excited to get out there and do it.”
The influx in talent and all-around improvement of teams in the garage area for the 2014 season will create some of the stiffest competition in ISMA history. Cicconi knows that defending his 2013 will be no easy tasks with hungry drivers like Chris Perley, Jon McKennedy and Ben Seitz nipping at his heels.
“It’s always tough,” Cicconi said. “Every year I’ve raced ISMA it’s been equally as tough. If you don’t have a name like Chris Perley then you have a name that maybe you don’t hear of every week but is fast and can win races. Everybody that races ISMA, probably a good 10 cars, has the ability to win on any given weekend.
“The ISMA talent is a bonus because of the fact that when you race at those speeds you can race wheel-to-wheel with 90-percent of the people there without worrying about getting crashed, running into them, or them running into you. The fact that you might not win is kind of secondary because there’s so many more benefits of racing against guys that race clean and know how to race.”
McKennedy Hopes New Engine Program Will Allow Team to Battle for Championship
Jon McKennedy is no stranger to victory lane in open-wheeled racecars. After winning the 2012 Valenti Modified Racing Series championship, McKennedy made the move to run the full ISMA schedule in 2013. The Massachusetts driver found success at several events last season with wins at the prestigious Star Classic at Star Speedway (NH) and Wings ‘N Wheels at Waterford Speedbowl (CT).
This season with a new powerplant under the hood of his No. 79, McKennedy is hoping his race team can find consistency to compete for the 2014 championship.
“Last year we ran really well basically everywhere we went, but we had some engine issues that kind of took us out of a few races,” McKennedy told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “My car owner Paul Dunigan, Jr. asked what he could do to help and what we needed to run better. We basically needed a new engine program and we have a brand new engine for this upcoming season. I’m really looking forward to that. I felt like last year at the big tracks we were lacking the horsepower. Between that and the few engine issues we had it took us out of the championship hunt.”
In addition to his full-time schedule racing with ISMA, McKennedy also has plans to run a few of the open-modified events in the Northeast in a family-owned car.
Seitz Hungry for More Following Runner-Up Finish in 2013
During the 2013 season, Ben Seitz was consistently one of the fastest cars on the ISMA circuit. Despite missing the first race of the year at Oswego with engine problems, Seitz finished second in the ISMA owners standings just 70 points back of champion Lou Cicconi.
“We were testing on the Friday before and we had some motor issues so we weren’t able to race on Saturday night,” Seitz said. “Throughout the course of the season, I just focused on what we had to do and didn’t look backwards. Even to this day, it wasn’t meant to be. Last year was Lou’s year and that was the way it was supposed to be."
After ending the 2013 season with a win at the Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT), Seitz is itching to get back in the driver’s seat to chase the championship this season.
“It was a really good way to end the season,” Seitz said about his win at Thompson. “One of the reasons that win was so big for us was because we had struggled at Thompson with the Supermodifieds the last couple of seasons. Even just to run well was a big day for us but to come away with a win was even better.”
Going into the start of the 2014 campaign, Seitz says that he and his team’s number one focus will be on running consistently. If that happens he believes the wins will come and that he will be in the mix for the championship at the season finale at Thompson.
ISMA Returns to Oxford Plains Speedway in 2014
ISMA will make their return to Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, ME this season after a six year absence from the track. ISMA President Howie Lane has this event highlighted on his 2014 calendar and looks forward to watching the winged warriors battle on the 3/8-mile oval.
“I love Oxford,” Lane told Speed51.com. “I’m so happy we’re going back there. That’s a track where you can actually get in trouble and keep going. On the frontstretch you can see two or three-wide racing there. Our cars are designed for tracks like that.”
ISMA will travel to Oxford, Maine on June 20 for the Bentley Warren ISMA Classic.
ISMA President Howie Lane Brings Rookie Ryan Gath On-Board His Franchise Team
Outside of being the president of ISMA, Howie Lane also supports his series by fielding his own franchise team that will run full-time in 2014. After years of fielding an entry with experienced drivers such as Joey Payne behind the wheel, Lane will be putting rookie Ryan Gath in the driver’s seat in 2014.
The 36-year-old Gath is a rookie to the ISMA ranks, but has experience racing Small Block Supermodifieds at Lee USA Speedway (NH). Gath was the 2012 winner of the Lee Oktoberfest Small Block Supers feature.
Six-time ISMA Champion Chris Perley Enters 2014 Uncertain of Plans
The all-time winningest driver on the ISMA circuit, “The Rowley Rocket” Chris Perley heads into the 2014 season with his plans up in the air. Perley told Speed51.com on Tuesday that he doesn’t currently have plans to run the full ISMA schedule in 2014, but plans on running the majority of events in the United States.
“I know that the car owner doesn’t want to go to Delaware (ON) or Sunset (ON) at this time,” Perley said. “Sandusky (OH) is up in the air, but anything can change on that one. The one after Oxford (ME) at Chaudière (QC), we’ll see how we do at Oxford and determine if we want to go up there.
“I know the car owner Vic Miller is looking to relax a bit and go back to enjoying racing and taking it easy. Nothing is ever written in stone, but we’ll just kind of wait and see. Right now it sounds like it’s completely out of the question, but stranger things have happened.”
After racing a limited schedule over the course of the past few seasons Perley hopes that last season’s refresher course will help his team stay competitive in 2014.
“Basically, just to see if I can stay competitive,” Perley said of his goals for 2014. “I haven’t raced as much lately. There have been a lot of people stepping up and the competition is pretty tough. We just hope to stay competitive running a part-time schedule. I’ve been limited the past few years with a couple years ago not running at all. Last year was a bit of a refresher course coming back. We’re just going to go out and see what we can get.”