Come Together: Whelen Modified Tour And Whelen Southern Mod Tour To Merge For 2017

whelen-modified-tour-logo-2016RaceDayCT has learned that NASCAR will announce today the consolidation of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour for the 2017 season.

NASCAR officials met with teams and drivers from the Southern Modified Tour this afternoon and also communicated with a number of Whelen Modified Tour teams on Wednesday.

“As NASCAR looks at the schedule for 2017 and beyond, we are looking at a number of options to continue growing the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour,” read a statement from NASCAR. “Our goal is to elevate the marque events on the calendar, strengthening the Modified brand along the East Coast. From Farmer and Allison to Evans and Cook, the Modifieds have always forged a unique identity and stoked intense passion among our fanbase. As we shape our future, we are focusing on what has made the Modifieds special and are committed to continuing that rich tradition.”

At this point much of the restructuring is a work in progress. The division is expected to have 17-20 events in 2017. It has not been finalized on whether or not events that land on the schedule at traditional Southern Modified Tour tracks will be points paying or non-points events. NASCAR has also not determined how the championship structure for the series will work.

The Whelen Modified Tour will still run its traditional highlight events at Stafford Motor Speedway (Spring Sizzler and Fall Final) and Thompson Speedway (Icebreaker and World Series) and is expected to continue to have a heavy presence in the state with other events.

In 2016 the division has raced at Thompson three times so far and will close its season Sunday with the running of the Sunoco World Series 150. The division also visited Stafford Speedway four times and traditionally runs one event annually at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

The Whelen Modified Tour began in 1985. The division had a 17-event schedule this year. In addition to the nine events at the Connecticut tracks the series also visited New Hampshire Motor Speedway twice, Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway twice, Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H., Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway, Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The Bristol event was a combination event with the Whelen Southern Modified Tour. New Hampshire Motor Speedway also hosted an exhibition All-Star event in July.

The Whelen Southern Modified Tour began in 2005, taking over what had formerly been the Southern Modified Auto Racing Tour (SMART), which was not sanctioned by NASCAR.

Long Island native George Brunnhoelzl III has won four Whelen Southern Modified Tour championships (2009, ’11, ’12, ’13). Hampstead, N.H. native Andy Seuss won championships with the Southern Modified Tour in 2014 and 2015. Burt Myers clinched the 2016 Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was the second series title for Myers, who also won it in 2010. Junior Miller (2005, ’06), L.W. Miller (2007) and Brian Loftin (2008) are the other Southern Modified Tour series champions in the division’s history.

At this point in time the new 2017 schedule for the restructured Whelen Modified tour is not expected to include any events at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. one of the cornerstone tracks of what is now the former Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Bowman Gray, one of the most well known short tracks in the country, hosted the Whelen Southern Modified Tour once in 2016.

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Comments

  1. Interesting article. Curious to see how next years tour will look like. Very exciting. Personally The Thompson 300 sounds like a marquee event to me if they happen to put it on the schedule

  2. How is this good for either tour!!! More miles away from home, more expenses, and I’m sure no increase in payout!

  3. Fast Eddie says:

    Sounds like a lousy deal for the Northeast to me! We had 17 races this year, only one of which is south of Long Island. Now there will be 17-20 races total? They better be putting up some more money across the board for these teams if they are now expected to head down south for probably 1/2 dozen events. We’ll probably not see more than two events each at Stafford and Thompson. I would also think Riverhead might lose one each as well, maybe even NHMS. NASCAR should be building on what they have instead of reinventing the tour!

  4. Right now I see this as a lose lose thing.

  5. I don’t see this working out. Nascar must be upset from the south having PASS modifieds this season, where quite a few from Whelen Southern Series drivers also competed. But time will tell.

  6. Well way to kill the southern modified movement. You were struggling to get 15 to show up so you take away the biggest race at bgs and expect more travel from the much smaller southern teams. What this really will be is the northern tour with a few southern events

  7. The southern tour was dead already. That’s probably why they went this route. Now the NJ based teams may run up north increasing car counts up here. Maybe a few southern teams come north once in a while. I would imagine most southern team will just run BG. Will be interesting to see how this breaksdown. 17 races took its toll this year. Not sure more is better right now. More details needed though.

  8. Stupid is as stupid does.

    At this years Bristol race, there were 37 cars at a combined event. That is kinda scary, way to low for a combined event.

    If you want to run a chassis business for northeast modifieds, to you locate the business in North Carolina? NO

    Consolidation is when things aren’t going well with one or both entities. This is a Hail Mary pass to save the southern mod racing. They have between 12-16 cars at their events. Not good at all. The northern tour is doing okay, a slight rebound as of late, but still, no cars are being sent home for failing to qualify.

    The northern teams have been vocal in reducing cost, reducing travel, reducing the number of days it takes to run an event… so NASCAR goes and combines the tours which will make the northern cars do FAR MORE traveling, the southern cars will have to do far more traveling. The northeast tracks are going to take a hit.

    There are some northern guys and cars running in the southern Tour, and thank goodness, or the southern Tour would have died a long time ago. Without the northern contingency, there would be no more than 10 cars running in the south. There are no southern cars running the northern events. What does that tell you?

    I think the competitive Tour owners will be having meetings over the winter.

  9. So now you will need to take 2 weeks vacation just to make it to all the races as a crew member/driver, plus adding more races. All this leaves less time for family. Couldn’t get the southern guys to come to Loudon already so why would they come to Thompson, Stafford or anywhere else in the Northeast.

  10. Jari Georgia says:

    How is this a good thing? If they don’t increase purses how are teams going to be able to travel these long distances. Being a New Englander, I’ll be upset at the loss of races that I can go to. I don’t see how this is going to be good for the tour at all.

  11. Rich Gourley says:

    Speed 51 did a piece on this and in it the promoter of Caraway said the purse has increased, which would make it difficult for the track to run multiple shows. No word on how much of an increase in purse.

    I’m not convinced this is the ultimate answer, but keeping the same old same old was not really a viable option either. When 50% of a “tour” is run at two tracks it’s not really a tour.

    Maybe there just trying to recapture glory from the old days of the original tour.

  12. knuckles mahoney says:

    It will be good for the MRS, and that’s fine with me.

  13. Muddbus461 says:

    Good Bye and Good Riddance.Oh let me shed a tear…..now it is 1 nail away from being totally gone.You will now see more teams give up the tour or just plain old quit.

  14. Face it guys, Nascar is in a death spiral and losing fans by the thousands. They have laid off numerous officials and replaced them with cameras. The moods are not very good here in Mooresville NC. Nascar spent a LOT of money flying officials all over the east coast. Now they are starting to cut the losses by reducing the divisions it sanctions.

  15. Its the beginning of the end for the Tour I believe. Within 3-5 years, it will be history.

    The fun and cost factors are not where they once were nor need to be. How many teams have folded or owners have combined two teams to one?!

    For the diehards, it is a Hail Mary pass. Only way the WMT survives is significant cost reductions, starting with the motors. Cup, xfinity, trucks, indycar, and even F1 has taken that measure to endure survival of their sport. Not growth, survival!

    This one series move is because neither can survive and put forth a good solid product on their own – it’s not sustainable.

    Assuming the new series can field 30-32 cars consistently in 2017, need to reduce the costs to keep hope it survives. Otherwise, by 2020, you’ll be at 16 cars at best, an then it goes away.

  16. The sooner NASCAR bites the dust, the better.

  17. Andy Boright says:

    It’s good that southern modified fans will now be exposed to that racing phenom known as Melisa Fifield.

    The one question I do have is for the person who issued that statement – did you really keep a straight face when you wrote “…continued growing the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour”?

    Apparently that person hasn’t attended a tour race for at least a decade.

  18. Heard this all 1000 times before. The WMT will be just fine. The VMRS is alot closer to death. Another great season about to close for the tour. 2017 will be even better. A couple races down south in March not so bad. No room in the current schedule for any new events after July 1st anyway. Honestly, this is all just a nice way of closing the doors on the southern tour anyway. Let’s not get our panties in a bunch. NASCAR hasn’t even drawn up the blueprint on how this will work yet. Besides, we still have to crown Coby champion for the 4th time this weekend before we worry about 2017.

  19. Sounds like they are just putting a positive spin on shutting down the WSMT. Lets wait and see where NASCAR goes with this before condemning it. In the meantime, my money is on Tri-Track series.

  20. I hope it works out but I have concerns. It doesnt address the problem which is the cost to compete, it makes it more expensive. Travel costs are going to go up when most teams are already stretched for money. It seams like every year a team or two decides to leave the sport because of the expenses of running. Well, Nascar just made it more expensive to follow the tour. I would be surprised if this change leads to more teams following the tour exclusively. I believe the tri track and Valenti series or newly formed series are probably the big winners in this change.

    Now perhaps a couple tracks up north decided to cut back on tour races for next season, the south has struggled with car counts and Nascar was kind of forced into this decision to keep a modified tour alive. There have been a few shows this season that did not draw great crowds compared to past years, mostly due to weather, that probably didnt make much money. Oddly, Stafford and Thompson were scheduled back to back a few times this year, that’s $75-$85 ga in a short span. I know people that said, I will skip one and go to the other to save money. The tracks may have come to the conclusion, it was just too much of a financial risk to schedule them 4 times. Schedule them less and perhaps they become more of an event or special show and people will pay 35-55 the ct tracks charge to see it.

  21. WOW!!! The SPEC motor must be saving fortunes if the NASCAR Tours can be combined into one HUGE region and make all the teams do all that traveling and take on more costs.

  22. Nascar needs to look at the World of Outlaws format – 30 laps 10k to win, don’t know what the payout is down the line but they have a full field and they travel all across the US. Another series they should look at is the indoor TQ races – they draw like 70 cars a show, not sure why but would like to know…

  23. Tri Track is no plum either. Seekonk and Star were well established events before they slapped their names on it. Lots of duds at Lee and Monadnock and Waterford last year along the way. At least in terms of fans. They had a good event at Waterford in Aug. We’ll see about the upcoming event. Not much will change there anyway because they already get a bunch of top tour guys. Just in different cars. Again, this is a lot to do with nothing. At the very most you add 1 to 3 races. That isn’t an earth shattering change. Everything will be fine kids. Sizzler should be an open show though. Too big an event for only 25 cars.

  24. Well, the championship chase will be limited to the cars that make all the events, and that won’t be many. This will look like MRS, where a handful of cars run all events, and the championship is one of those cars.

  25. steve,

    The difference is simple. There are MANY more tracks across the US that run sprint cars on dirt. Probably the single most popular racing class in the country, in every part of the country but New England, though even we have a sprint car group running in Vermont. Put that up against the 10 or so tracks here in the Northeast that run modifieds. There’s your difference. The Outlaws themselves usually have about 20 cars that actually travel, but every track they go to has a set of local racers that will try their hand against the big boys, so you end up with car counts that go upwards of 40 cars at many of the tracks. When they come to the Northeast, and run at Lebanon Valley, Fulton, etc, they usually end up with car counts in the low to mid 20’s because there isn’t a built in source of cars to draw on.

    As far as the TQ’s go, it’s the difference between a $10K car to play in the winter as an additional toy when there is no other racing, or a $250K effort to run the full series with WMT.

  26. It’s funny bc for YEARS now people have cried and shouted to the rooftops “Get the tour back to places like Richmond & Martinsville…”

    Here’s the opportunity…

  27. Early on, the WMT used to have 3-4 points races in the south each each season.(3 at Martinsville and sometimes 1 at Orange County Speedway in NC.) Most of the of the normal teams would go and some southern drivers would run those dates too. However, the southern teams never had to come to the north. They always had their own thing either with SMART or just running BGS.

  28. I really thought the comments from NASCAR were almost as funny as the media’s “unbiased” coverage of the election – “we are looking at a number of options to continue growing the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour”, & “As we shape our future, (OUR being the operative word) we are focusing on what has made the Modifieds special and are committed to continuing that rich tradition.” So cost cutting ideas that cost more money and mandates that increase expense while lowering purses is growth? Makes sense.
    In order to continue doing something, you usually have to start doing in the first place.

  29. Fact Checker says:

    The 2016 VMRS champion did NOT run all the races.

    VMRS had only 2 cars run every event.

  30. It may go back a ways but back in the day there were just NASCAR modifieds. It didn’t matter where they were from, and when they competed against each other at places like Martinsville and Trenton the racing was awesome. Yeah I’m an old guy and I was there. If you raced for points you went where you could get the most and it didn’t matter if it was Carawayt, South Boston or Islip or Malta. Just maybe by combining these groups some of that competition will come back, car counts go up and the product on the track improves. When that happens you draw more fans and at least in theory you can pay more in the purse. It builds from there. Combining tours is’s an idea to build on. Maybe it works,maybe not but better than doing nothing and watching both series wither. I think it’s absurd what it costs to run a modified and until that is fixed you will never see the kind of product on the track that will draw the new fans and increase car counts. Modifieds used to be the working man’s race car. Now they are the rich man’s toy and it is eventually going to end this division unless something is done to reverse that. The first spring sizzler drew over 100 modified. This year 25. Tells me all I need to know about where things are headed without someone trying something different. So support it and help it succeed instead of all the negativity I read here.
    BTW, rest in peace Jarb Beaudoin car ownner #500 won a ton with Tony Mordino, Billy Greco and others

  31. RUN THE SIZZLER AS AN OPEN COMP SHOW! That’d be awesome. 80 laps. May the best team win and pencil their name in the history books

  32. Ed P., we already support it, we buy tickets, buy concessions, etc. Really nothing else we can do.

    Negativity? Just because we do not walk in lock step with whoever does not mean negativity. If you want us to sing praises of how wonderful everything is, make it all wonderful. But we all see declining car counts. Can’t hide that. Still can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. And no matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, it’s still a pig.

    The spin NASCAR put on the consolidation is insulting. Trying to make it sound like a way to expand the modified tour. That is complete BS, this is life support for the southern mod racers. This idea of a consolidated Modified Tour is unsustainable. It increases costs. Combining the two tours as a way to get car counts up will not work. I wouldn’t be surprised if many owners are already planning to shut down and sell off their equipment. And I doubt new teams are going to see this as a great time to join the new consolidated Modified Tour.

  33. Frankie tree says:

    Thank God for Dick Williams and the Open Mods and Tri-Track series look at that to be even better in 2017. I’ll bet it becomes the premier series in the north with so much in Purse and great structure of pay out. Viva la Dicky

  34. Don’t blast me as i haven’t thought this all the way through but, would it be possible to have say 20 events on the schedule – and for those teams that want to run for the championship, only count 15 of them for points? Pick your best 15 results? This could allow for teams to cross off big hauls on the schedule and save some coin. I think it would help if all races paid the same purse. i know, crazy talk..

    This might come off as a really poor thought process, but considering the ideas that come out of the NASCAR front office, i suppose anything flies..

  35. Make the tour Great Again says:

    At the end of the day.

    It’s an easy solution. If you want more cars, keep the drivers, owners, and teams happy.

    Do that by –
    Drivers/Owners – increase purses. Licensing and costs have gone up. If you can increase these for the teams/drivers, then you sure can increase the payouts. These races should be a Min. Of 10k to win.

    Teams – Nascar officials don’t have to pretend to be bosses. Everyone has one of those during there day job. Hand a schedule out ( which you do already ) and expect everyone to be there when ready. No one likes being yelled at by officials, that to be honest, really couldn’t even make it on a weekly team.

    There’s your fix. It’s your call from here

  36. Muddbus461 says:

    Mark my words….there will be tour races next year that will have fields below 20 cars….It’s over and Thank goodness that it is!

  37. Tyler Bonenfant says:

    I just want them to come back to Seekonk Speedway next year

  38. It would bring back the old days if northerners went south and vice versa. South teams rarely come north these days, and the fields aren’t overflowing at northern shows. Doubt there is enough money for it to work.

  39. Andy Boright says:

    Gotta love how someone claims one minute the tour is just fine, and the next say 25 cars isn’t enough for the Sizzler.

    Most of the very best modified drivers don’t care about the NASCAR Tour, that in itself is a major issue that isn’t being addressed.

    NASCAR has no clue what they are doing on the short tracks, and certainly isn’t qualified to manage a short track series. This series looks to be gone in another 5 years or less.

  40. Bottom line…Back in the day purses were more than exspenses. it’s not like that anymore and it will never be again. You either have to be wealthy or have a big sponsor to race the tour… right now there is just not enough teams that have the financial backing to support this tour not a good situation

  41. Exactly, people just like to bitch and complain

  42. Actually think this is a great idea. Make it a 20-25 race schedule, spread out geographically. Say your best 15 count towards title. So simple, but would level the travel. Good call Goldy!

  43. I never thought it was a good thing for modified racing back in 1985 when Nascar started this touring crap. It managed to kill weekly modified racing like I knew it would (weekly shows counted toward the national modified championship before that), and now the tour itself is on life support. Lots of reasons for that, many already mentioned here. Most can be traced back to decisions made by Nascar.

    One of the big ones to me is the demise of weekly modified racing. With that, all the advantages of the WoO model were lost. Maybe if the tour incorporated home track points like Donnelly did with the DIRT mods, it would be a much different situation today.

    Another big one to me is the above mentioned “fun factor”. From a rule book that regulates the most insignificant minutia to rigid procedural rules and a Stalin-like attitude from the top, where does the fun come in? Add to that, the expectation that drivers conduct themselves in a “professional” manner on and off the track, the same as those in the 3 national series (even though they aren’t paid as such) and it’s pretty easy to see that most of the characters I grew up watching would spend more time suspended and paying fines than racing. The root problem here is that Nascar doesn’t have an interest in promoting modified racing for what it is. Their interest is to fit it into their driver development ladder to supply them with talent for the top tier divisions. Square peg meet round hole.

    It’s also worth noting that the same rule book is also the prime driver of increasing costs to build a competitive car. Throw out most of the current engine rules and let’s race 750hp $15k ls engines.

    As far as travel expenses, I can’t blame Nascar for that. When teams were traveling, they were putting $0.50/gal gas in 1-ton duallies towing open trailers. Now it probably costs a grand to get one of those obscene stacker rigs from CT to NC.

    I’m not happy to see any racing venue in decline, but I haven’t been to a tour race for years now. I just don’t enjoy the dirty crap that passes for racing on the tour these days. That just might be another thing that takes the fun out of it for a lot of (would be) participants too.

    I’ve been looking for hobbies outside of racing to occupy my time. That was unthinkable to me just a few short years ago.

  44. Then are doing this because we have better racing in the Northeast and a bigger draw and more races the south only run about ten races and don’t get the crows. The racing is far better up here. The south drivers don’t come up here now because of the cost.

  45. The one thing I haven’t seen mentioned is perhaps the most important. TV money. Without a national sponsor and live TV, this combined tour cannot possibly work. There are only so many millionaire modified team owners who could make all the races, and that’s not enough. Modifieds are the most exciting race cars in America, in my opinion, and they need TV exposure and the money that brings to make them successful on a national basis. Is it only me who thinks Nascar if afraid that the modifieds will encroach upon the truck series and Infinity series?
    Another problem is the price of tickets at Tour events are on par with Cup series tickets (or close). many families cannot or will not spend upwards of two hundred bucks to take their family to a modified event.

  46. Tyler Bonenfant says:

    Tickets for the modified race at Seekonk were only $35 each, at what tracks are they that expensive?

  47. Goldy- I had the same idea, schedule about 20 races and your top 15 finishes count towards championship. Drivers can pick their best tracks, travel to the closest events or race all 20 and if there is a mechanical failure/wreck it would be like a mulligan. The only stipulation is in order to win the championship the driver must compete in the final race. Just so that a driver doesn’t wrap up the championship with a few races to go and then park the hauler at the shop and show up at the last race in Bermuda shorts & sandels to raise the trophy!

  48. Earl Hamil says:

    The WSMT races at South Boston were $20. SB not on the schedule in 2017 and both races were sellouts and competitive in 2016.

    Live tv will never happen because the audience is too small.

    Big France and Big France 2 must cringe every day knowing they left little France to completely fu(& this up.

  49. wmass01013 says:

    Earl while I don’t know the exact purses minimums I am guessing 2016 SWMT around $15000 and 2017 WMT $50,000 or more

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