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Dirt Modifieds Test At New Hampshire

- Justin St. Louis on 17 Aug 2010

LOUDON, N.H. -- Seeing open-wheel Modifieds screaming around the New Hampshire Motor Speedway mile is nothing new -- NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour has been thrilling fans at the track for 20 years.

For the first time, however, dirt-style Modifieds have taken laps around the “Magic Mile.” And Jerry Gappens says it’s all part of the plan for the near future.

On Tuesday, New York racers Mike Perrotte and Patrick Dupree tested their cars at NHMS to gather notes and feedback for the possibility of a race in 2011. Gappens, the vice president and general manager at NHMS, says adding dirt-style Modifieds to the lineup -- whether at a NASCAR weekend, the IZOD IndyCar Series event, or as part of a stand-alone short track weekend -- is something he’s interested in.

“It’s something we’ve thought about for a while,” said Gappens. “There are a lot of teams running these cars up in the northeast, and we’d love to have some type of race for them here as a reward for their hard work.”

Perrotte, of Plattsburgh, N.Y., has driven Modifieds and Late Models for thirty years. He’s also the promoter of Airborne Speedway, a 4/10-mile asphalt track that features DIRTcar-sanctioned Modifieds as its premier weekly division. He says he jumped at the chance to drive his car at the New Hampshire mile, but doesn’t know many details of an event for next summer or beyond.

“We’re here. We had the opportunity to come here and test and we thought it’d be really fun, so we came. I don’t know much more than that,” Perrotte said.

Dupree, of Saranac Lake, N.Y., is one of Airborne’s leading drivers, and raced at New Hampshire five times in what is now the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Dupree likes the idea of racing his Modified in an event at NHMS, especially after having a successful test.

“It’s a lot more fun than a [K&N] car,” Dupree said. “The last time out on the track we kind of gave it the juice and everything seems to be good. The tires are holding up nice. With the Busch cars you get loose and the next thing you know you’re in trouble. With this thing it was kind of stuck, we’ve got all that extra tire surface on the track.”

Perrotte, who races at Albany-Saratoga (N.Y.) Speedway, said he changed very little on his car for the test, despite a radically different race track.

“We just came with our Saturday night setup,” he said. “We stiffened the right-front spring up a little bit and changed the gears, and the car is very stable. It goes around really well. It’s not a Late Model, it’s got a straight front axle and the bodies drag a lot of air, but it was fast and it’s pretty good.”

Both drivers would like to see a dirt Modified event happen.

“I think they’d do just fine,” said Dupree. “It’d probably scare some people. You can’t have people bumping into each other out there, but I think it’d be fun.”

“I would think that the competitors would love an opportunity to come and race at a place like this,” said Perrotte. “It’s got to be the highlight of just about every short track racer’s career to race here. I think our guys would put on an awesome show here. They put on a show everywhere they go. I think it’d be really cool.”

SEASON OPENERS

ACT LATE MODEL TOUR
Feb. 13/14, 2011
New Smyrna Speedway
New Smyrna Beach, FL

MODIFIED RACING SERIES
March 27, 2011
Waterford Speedbowl
Waterford, CT

PASS NORTH SUPER LATE MODELS
April 30, 2011
Beech Ridge Motor Speedway
Scarborough, ME

SPRINT CARS OF NEW ENGLAND
2011 Schedule TBA

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