Money Men: Where Were The SK Modifieds Sunday At Seekonk Speedway?

SEEKONK, Mass. – In the weeks and days leading up to Sunday’s special $5,000 to win SK Modified event at Seekonk Speedway, the talk around the pit areas of the short tracks of Connecticut was of numbers few have seen in quite some time for an event for the cars.

Thirty cars? Maybe 40? Some even had ideas of 50 cars in the pits on Sunday at Seekonk.

No knock on the 26-car field that started Sunday’s event at Seekonk, but it was an event that truly proved the cliché, talk is cheap.

Of the 26 cars that started, 20 were SK Modifieds and six SK Light Modifieds. Those are hardly a numbers that do anything to bear witness to any sort of thriving health for the division.

When it comes to Modified racing of any sort, one of the most common conversations is about big shows. Hang around drivers or team owners long enough and the conversations will meander toward the topic of the good old days and open shows that paid big money to win and how it’s something that the division needs to return to having regularly.

Promoter Gary Sagar and Seekonk Speedway did that Sunday and oddly, they were given a “Thanks, but no thanks” from so many that make up the bulk of SK Modified and SK Light Modified racing community.

That so many stayed away made it all that much easier for race winner Matt Hirschman to walk away with the $5,000 winner’s purse at the end, but even he was left wondering where the cars were.

“I really expected more and I think they could do better,” Hirschman said. “It’s one of them things that I scratch my head as to why guys don’t support something that pays above and beyond what you’d get anywhere else. I think it was a good field, but there’s definitely a lot more cars out there.”

Granted this wasn’t the type of money that was going to send any car owner into early retirement, but it was much more than anybody is collecting at any regular weekly events.

And it seemed to be arranged in a way that would work for Connecticut weekly racers to make the show. The Sunday schedule allowed all teams to run their normal events, come to Seekonk to race, and if they did have problems, they would be afforded plenty of time to make repairs in time to return to their weekly tracks in one piece.

And the reality is, the tiny Seekonk bullring isn’t a place where catastrophic damage from any wreck is likely to happen.

The $5,000 to win on the line should have had at minimum, each driver that could contend for a win weekly at Stafford Motor Speedway, Thompson International Speedway or the Waterford Speedbowl, in the house.

Stafford Speedway’s logo says “The Home of the SK Modifieds” and yet only two SK Modified teams that race regularly at Stafford made the trek Seekonk. Of the 20 SK Modified teams in attendance most were from the Waterford Speedbowl.

So what is the answer, or is there even an answer? Can anybody make these type of shows work now? Is it all talk when team owners and drivers say the sport needs more open shows?

The cars that did show up at Seekonk Sunday put on a good show for the fans. It was a race that had some feisty skirmishes in the front, lots of passing through the field and the added bonus of pit strategy. It had everything a good open competition, big money paying show should have. So why was it not good enough for so many teams that make up the bulk of the SK Modified fields at Connecticut three short tracks that showcase the division?

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  1. Nathan Brodeur says

    Thompson had a decent showing of names you would see on thursdays. Thompson 300 would be nice to see again…

  2. The majority of the state’s top teams attended the show. Most of the heavy hitters from Waterford were presnt as were the top dogs from Thompson’s still thin SK ranks. Woody and Preece were in their Thompson rides so that explains some of the Stafford abscense. The most notable big name missing was TC.

    The race pays $5000 to win, but what is the purse from say 5th through 25th? If it isn’t much more than you would win at your weekly track then you can undertsand why a team would not want to tow out to Seekonk and spend more money on food, pit passes, fuel, and tires on the same weekend.

    If you are a mid level or lower funded team at Waterford/Thompson/Stafford and you see a stacked entry list can you justify incurring more race weekend costs to win 10th to 15th place money?

    The racing was good and it drew most of the top names so it should be deemed a success. It actually out drew last year’s 10k to win Tour Type open show. It definitely has something to build on. Last month you wrote an article entitled “Size Matters” the basis of which was a quality over quantity arguement in regards to field sizes on the Whelen Modified Tour. Does that quality over quantity arguement not apply to an exciting and talent laden SK Open show at Seekonk?

  3. The ONLY thing that I thought might cause the lack of cars was the fact that the teams had to buy and race on a minimum of 4 tires purchased AT the track… I heard of some teams buying as many as 6 tires. I think they would be better off finding a good sponsor or a few different sponsors to put up the $5000 purse for the winner and other positions and do lap sponsors similar to how they to Open Wheel Wednesday.

    It was $550 to start the race I believe, but you spend $680 on tires or more and then regular transport and operating costs… That part may not have been feasible for many of the smaller teams or teams that only have 1 car.

    I enjoyed the race, there was some stuff I didn’t like but the officials were right on top of it… We will see what happens next year. I am hearing they want to do more of these.

  4. Like I have said before – this one you have to blame the competitors.
    Big Money no one shows up, should have been 50 cars in the pits and every fan that loves modifieds should have been in attendance. There was like 2000 fans in the seats – come on support what you love “Modifieds” this great was only $20 bucks for addmission. Now I know why the tracks charge $17.50 and pay nothing, they get same cars count and fans… Waterford used to pay 5k to win and only draw 24 cars. this is why modified racing will soon be a distant memory. These stay at one track guys are not real racers and never will be.

  5. Lance,
    I stated very specifically that it was a good race no matter how many cars there. Just making the point that there’s a lot of complaining about low purses and lack of big shows from teams and drivers, but it’s odd when it happens and there’s weak support.

  6. 26 cars? That sounds like a full field to me. Even on a 1/3 or 3/7 track like seekonk. Heck I would love to see the Mods reach to 30+ but times are not what they used to be. things cost way to much now. In my book that sounds like a successful event.

  7. Lauren you probably couldn’t drive your way out of a wet paper bag. So lets not talk about “real racers”. Some guys can only afford to run one track. Do you have any idea how expensive racing is?

  8. darealgoodfella says

    Well, $5,000 to win sounds impressive, but probably just covered costs to run the event. Not just direct costs such as tires, fuel, gate fees, prep and hauling, but wear and cost of ownership. It matters. So 2nd place and back probably didn’t cover costs to run the event. These events need a purse to make it worth while going deep into the field, not just first place. It still costs to run no matter where the car finishes.

  9. Sean Foster says

    I commend Seekonk Speedway for holding this event and I hope they continue it annually. I was extremely interested in competing when I first heard of the event. I could write a 50 page response to this article but here is the one thing I will say speaking for our race team…

    The first thought in my mind in determining whether to compete or not was income vs. expenses. Tires: No maximum tire rule stated, completely different compounds than my home track… How many tires do I have to purchase? Practice all day, spares for the race. Are some guys purchasing 8 tires? I figured I would have to purchase a minimum of 6 tires. $160 X 6 = 960. I would have to finish top 6 to break even with my tire bill. Add fuel to the expenses… top 4 or 5. Just to break even. Tires and fuel… That’s all I’ve mentioned.

    I dont want to be defensive, rude, direct… but I take offense to being called somebody who is not a real racer. The drivers/teams are hardly the reasons for the sport’s decline in the local level. I also don’t want to shed any negative light on Seekonk putting on this show. It is awesome. I am just stating a couple facts and views from a race team’s prospective.

    The sport is simply lacking popularity. Like I said, I could go on all day with ways to fix the sport but who is going to read a 50 page response in a comment field? No offense, Shawn. lol

  10. Leeroy,

    I don’t drive, but I do own a race car that I can not afford to run on a weekly basis now because of kids in college right now. Last time I have raced full time in the 90’s and 2000’s we actually made money running all three ct tracks every week so I do know how expensive racing is…. 5K to win and $500 to qualify is a very good purse and if you cant afford to run for that then forget about it. I know people that haul to stafford for a dare stock race for $100 to win every friday nite – that’s what I don’t get….

  11. Pay $2500 to win and spread the other $2500 throughout the field. Same deal for the Wednesday Open Show. Pay $5000 to win and spread out the other 5k to the rest of the field. With lap money and special bonus it might make these shows more appealing to the masses. Teams look at what it pays to start a lot more than they do what it pays win nowadays. If your in the whole before you leave the shop you are going to have guys staying home more than not.

  12. SCCA / Sports Car Racing pays nothing to win. Nothing to show. Big entry fees and long towing to events. Just saying. I could see having to buy special tires keeping people away. No one wants to invest in something they may not use again.

  13. Wonder what the consensus would be for teams running whatever tire they wanted, (the ones they have) might work for open shows, might work all the time weekly too. Do the tracks get some of this tire dough?

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