Fact Or Fiction: Modified Tour Spec Motor Debate Fueled By Speculation, Rumor And Falsehoods

“Saving money never hurt so bad.”

Those were the words of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series director Chad Little on July 19.

Little was responding to concerns about a Spec motor program with the Whelen Modified Tour that has sparked an explosion of anger across the landscape of the division since the running of the Town Fair Tire 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 14.

In that event, Ron Silk’s Ed Partridge owned team used NASCAR’s approved Spec motor. Silk, the reigning series champion, ran at or near the front of the pack the whole way in the event, eventually finishing second to Mike Stefanik by three one-thousandths of a second.

Though it seems, never has a losing car set off such a firestorm of bad feelings.

The feeling that has permeated many within the garage in the division is that the Spec motor is the worst thing that has come along in the division in years. Some, many actually, go as far as to say it will kill the series.

Here’s the problem.

Mob mentality has ruled the ever enraged debate. A philosophy of “If the loudest voices say it to be true it must be true” has taken over.

The fact is, mob mentality doesn’t trump fact. If 1,000 people stand in a group and say the sky is pink and one says the sky is blue, the sky isn’t then pink just by majority rule.

And therein lies a lot of the problem with the war that has become the Spec motor issue on the Whelen Modified Tour.

Listen to people around the division and you’ll hear a similar refrain coming from the back of most haulers. You’ll hear NASCAR is massaging the rules to make the Spec motor better than traditionally built motors. You’ll hear that despite the initial cost savings of the Spec motor, in the long run you’ll pay more for it than with a traditionally built motor.

You’ll hear it from crew members who have never run the motor or tried to manage one with their team. You’ll hear them say because they heard it from someone else that the motor stinks. They don’t know it’s a bad motor, but they’ll tell you it is because it’s what they’ve heard.

And you’ll hear NASCAR is on a mission to put motor builders out of business. You’ll hear NASCAR is going to make the Spec motor mandatory very soon.

You hear a lot. And then you hear how NASCAR let Ron Silk toy with the field at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Is it truly that shocking that a championship team that has historically run well at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with a championship driver that has historically run well at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, would run near the front in a race there?

Let’s remember, this is the same Silk who had won previously at the track with Partridge. Remember, when Ryan Newman was found to be driving a car with a flagrantly cheated motor during an event last year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Silk was one of the two drivers that actually stayed with Newman for most of the race, and that wasn’t with a Spec Motor.

Silk is good. That’s a fact. It’s not rumor, not speculation, not mystery, Silk is good.

But then there’s the mob mentality. The “If you read it or hear it it must be true” philosophy that too often takes over with a group feeling they’ve been done wrong.

Mob mentality rules. When the Lowell Sun publishes <strong><a href=”http://northeastmotorsports.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/will-a-cost-lowering-option-change-the-nwmt-as-we-know-it-forever/” target=”_blank”>a doomsday scenario column</a></strong> revolving around the Spec motor the mob rule lifts it up as gospel. Nobody mentions that the author of the column, Kevin Rice, is also a race promoter trying to attract the same angry Modified teams to non-NASCAR sanctioned events he helps put on. Conflict of interest be damned in the war against NASCAR making us buy something we don’t want right?

But yet those half-truths fire fuel into the motor of a marauding mob fighting a battle with innuendo and rumor.

Another <strong><a href=”http://blog.masslive.com/racinwithjason/2012/07/racin_with_jason_all_the_recent_developments_in_the_nascar_whelen_modified_tour_revolve_around_one_t.html” target=”_blank”>column on the issues raised</a></strong>, written by Jason Remillard of the Springfield Republican read:

“Part of the problem is the attitude in the pits. In days of yore, superstars like Richie Evans gladly dispensed advice to other teams on how to make their cars better. Then, Evans partied with the competition until the wee hours of the morning. Now, teams drive up in their Sprint Cup-style haulers, keep to themselves and take off as soon as the race ends. There’s an elitism that only existed in small doses until the last few years.”

So what were Modified Tour drivers Silk, Doug Coby, Rowan Pennink and Keith Rocco, along with multitudes of crew members from their respective teams, doing hanging out together in the parking lot of the Waterford Speedbowl until nearly 5 a.m. the next morning following the Mr. Rooter 161 at the shoreline oval on June 23?

No, it never happened right? Because the Springfield Republican said exactly that thing doesn’t happen any more and that’s part of the problem of why NASCAR can force on these teams what they want? Mob mentality rules, it’s written so it must be the truth right?

It’s not true, but the mob will put those written words up as exhibits A, B and C down the line as to what’s killing the division, even if those pieces of evidence don’t really exist.

No, NASCAR doesn’t do themselves any favors. In announcing the halfway break for the July 14 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after the spec motor was tested at the track in early June was a bad move when folks already think there’s a conspiracy in place to help the motor.

And on a bigger stage, you can’t fault Whelen Modified Tour owner Bob Garbarino when he gets upset hearing NASCAR president Mike Helton said there’s no timeouts in “NASCAR”. The redheaded stepchild syndrome has always permeated with pits of the Whelen Modified Tour, Helton basically saying excluding the Modified Tour from a generic statement about what’s done in “NASCAR” only serves to hurt more.

Instead of the rumor, the talk, the third-hand folks saying the motor stinks, how about the group looks at the rousing success the exact same motor has become in the K&N Pro Series over the last six years. And take one second to stop and look at the fact that the motor has not been made mandatory in that division, though a multitude of teams are using it across the board.

It’s allowed teams to stay in business. That’s all that NASCAR wants for the Modified Tour. Allow teams to stay in business or actually allow for new teams to arrive.

There’s one big thing that never gets talked about within the Modified Tour. It’s the elephant that has loomed large in the room for years in the division, though nobody seems to want to engage the discussion.

The Whelen Modified Tour is a division with a lot of old owners. Where is the next generation of car owners in the series going to come from? That doesn’t seem like it’s a concern at all of the teams there today. Should it be? Absolutely it should be. The Spec motor addresses that.

But don’t bring that up to the mob. Don’t bring that up to those spreading the mob’s propaganda campaign.

Are there problems with the Whelen Modified Tour that need addressing? Sure there are. But how is it that NASCAR’s attempt to save teams money has somehow turned into them trying to put their own division out of business? It just doesn’t make sense. Little had it right. Saving money never hurt so bad.

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