What is a Supermodified…
The ‘Super’ as it is called by those familiar with the
beast, is aptly described as one part dragster, one
part sprint car, and one part engineering wonder.
Incredibly difficult to describe without a collection of
photos, the Super is often mistaken for some sort of
oddball sprint car by the uninitiated. However, once
you get to really take a look at a Super, there truly
is no mistaking it for anything else, never mind
watching the cars actually race. There are groups of
Supermodifieds scattered about the United States, all
somewhat different in appearance and technology,
but there is no doubt they are all remarkably similar
in their roots. Supers are most at home running on
tracks from 1/4 to 5/8 mile in length, with our home
track in Madera, California at 1/3 mile. Since I have
grown up with the West Coast cousin and we’re
currently running the 360 Supermodified class, I’m
sticking with that for the rest of this bit…
Motors – The 360 Supermodified motor is limited to
360 cubic inches, be it Chevy, Ford or Mopar. We
can run either gasoline or methanol, but almost
everyone chooses methanol today. The cooling
benefits alone are worth running methanol. Fuel is
delivered via a Holley 500 CFM 2-barrel carburetor.
The motors may use either wet or dry sump oiling
systems, and we are limited to 14:1 compression.
As a result, the motors make from 450 to 550
horsepower. There is no transmission, and the
driveline connects from the back of the crankshaft
directly to the quick-change rear end. Most motors
are run between 7500 and 8200 RPM at Madera
Speedway, utilizing various quick-change gear
Chassis and suspension – The chassis are either
round or square tube space frame type construction
and are generally offset to maximize left-side weight
distribution (See photos). Maximum track width is
86” and overall length may not exceed 168”. We are
allowed to have up to 65% of the total car weight
resting on the left side wheels, which is why the
motors are hanging way over there. The front axle
is a beam type setup, as independent front
suspension was outlawed in 1995 or 1996 (the
LeftTurn Motorsports chassis was originally designed
and run as one of the only west coast IFS cars in the
early 90’s). The front axle is most often located with
an arrangement of radius rods and a panhard bar,
utilizing coil-over springs and dampers to manage
suspension travel. The rear axle is usually a ‘live
axle’ setup with a quick change rear end (noted
above), and transmits various loads to the chassis
through a torque arm and 3 or 4 link suspension
systems, with the occasional watts link popping up
here and there. As with the front end, Coil-overs
and a panhard bar are usually used here as well,
with the employment of some very creative methods
of locating the left rear coil.
Wings - It just wouldn't be a Super without the wings
(no offense to Oswego). Generally, we are limited to
a 2400 square inch top wing, but there are some
allowances that will let a car run up to 4000 square
inches depending on chassis configuration. We are
allowed to run up to 500 square inches of wing on the
front of the car as well. The wings are not adjustable
while the car is on track, but angle of attack and fore-
aft location may be adjusted while in the pits. Wings
are a major part of why these cars are so incredibly
fast. The immense downforce generated by the
airfoils pushes the car into the track allowing it to
corner at very high speeds, and they look way cool...
Tires – Every tire on a Super can be a different size.
Some teams run a very narrow left front, however,
other teams runs the same size tire across the left
and right front corners in the interest of saving a
little bit of money. With the 2–tire per raceday rule,
there may be a bit of strategy involved as well. The
left rear tire is generally the same height as the right
front, but much wider in order to provide drive
traction. The right rear tire is the largest on the car
in order to provide maximum traction when exiting
the corners. The difference in size between the left
and right rear tires is known as stagger and also
greatly contributes to the car’s ability to turn left
since there is no differential inside the rear end.
Imagine trying to roll a cylinder around a corner
versus rolling a cone around the same corner.
That, in a very small nutshell, is what
Supermodifieds are. If you have any questions, or
none of this made a bit of sense, send us an email so
we can get straightened out!
Thanks for reading this far – you must be hard-core…
Two generations of Supermodifieds
The car on the left is the current 'offset'
configuration. These cars are from 61% to
65% left-side bias
The car on the right is the old style 360 that
was limited to 55% left side bias. A properly
set up 55% car can STILL be competitive.
|I wasn't kidding - it really is a 2 barrel carburetor
Notice the motor is completely outside the
|Another shot showing the offset of the motor.
Not all cars have a dramatic frame offset.
|There's not too much to look at on the right
Notice the difference in the left and right