By Shawn Courchesne
LOUDON, N.H. – After finishing second to Doug Coby in the Whelen Modified Tour Mr. Rooter 125 on June 10, Todd Szegedy made it clear that he didn’t feel his Mystic Missile Racing team – running a traditional built motor – was on an even playing field with teams series teams using spec motors.
For years team owner Bob Garbarino has expressed his displeasure with NASCAR’s spec motor program, and he continued to express those feelings when asked about it following the event in June at Thompson.
But how does the cliché go? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em?
Szegedy went to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend with the first spec motor being run by a Garbarino owned team.
He left Loudon with the winner’s trophy from Saturday’s Whelen Modified Tour Andy Blacksmith 100.
“We put a new spec engine in it this weekend and it paid off,” Szegedy.
So how did the the Ridefield driver feel about the different type of power under the hood?
“Comparing apples apples, the seat of the pants feel, [the spec motor] they don’t feel like they have a lot, when you step on that throttle they’re sluggish coming off the corner,” Szegedy said. “But they pull continuously all the way down the straightaway. If you went from one car to the next the built motor would feel faster. It just gives you that sensation. It’s got a lot more jump picking up on the throttle.
“What I can say about the spec motor is that it’s a lot easier to drive. Not to mention you have, depending what engine you get, you get 70 to 100 pounds of weight that comes off the upper part of the racecar and you can mount that anywhere on the frame. That lowers your center of gravity and lowers the roll centers and it improves your corner speed. If they could put G-Meters in the cars and compare one to the other you’d probably be pulling more lateral G’s with the car that has the spec in it.
“I’m looking forward to running this engine at other tracks because I think that’s where we’re going to really see it. Because as you all know, last year I finished second [in an event at NHMS for Rob Fuller Motorsports] and that was [with] a built motor. I think it’s possible to continue to run good with those engines, but I think at the end of the day, a built motor you have to drive your butt off every lap where a spec engine you can kind of just take it easy. You can drive it 80 percent where a built motor you need to be at 110 to keep up. Luckily I’ve had a racecar that’s been good enough to stay underneath me.”