Nerd’s Eye View: The Cars of PRI

by David Zipf


PRI is full of cool and new speed parts, which the rest of the MotoIQ team is showing you.  But for a PRI newcomer it’s the cars that really overwhelm you.  They are everywhere!  And they are all amazing and varied, everything from rally demo cars to Drag Week veterans, to dirt track cars, to original Indy 500 winning racers.  We could fill a novel with the cars we saw, and in fact after walking the PRI floor for an entire day, I STILL hadn’t seen everything there was to see!  Note to self: plan for more vacation in 2018…


I’ll let you in on a little secret: if it wasn’t for Roadkill, I probably wouldn’t have ended up with an 18 hp minibike.  The idea of picking up a bad idea on Craigslist can be directly traced to watching way too many episodes of Roadkill.  So as a Roadkill fanboi, it was really cool to see Blasphemi 2.0 in person at PRI.  It was fresh out of the paint shop, sporting its new black and gold livery.  If you’re not familiar with this car, it’s an original 1955 Chevy coupe body, mounted to a Jim Meyer Racing Gasser chassis.  The front end is a drag type fiberglass flip front.  Even if you aren’t a fan of the show or Gassers in general, watching this thing transform from clapped out body to racecar is pretty damn cool. 
Engine power is given away in the name: a supercharged big block Mopar Hemi, making near 900 horsepower, backed up by a 6-speed manual transmission.  Why a Hemi?  “To piss off Chevy guys.”  Hey, if you’re building your dream car, who cares what anyone else thinks?  What I find particularly interesting about this car is that I think it is going to be a bit of a trend setter for both future muscle cars and imports alike.  As the Boomers age out and Gen X and Millennial car geeks take over the scene you’ll be seeing a lot more bastard cars like this.  Not just oddball engine swaps, but also cars that are great on the track, but usable on the street and relatively budget friendly, mixing classic and modern technology.  The body and engine are old school, but the chassis reflects modern drag race tech and the motor runs FAST EFI instead of carburetors.  Right now the muscle car scene is oversaturated with super high end builds and tuner cars are stuck in either hellaflush or drift missile mode.
Apparently this is a 2017 Corvette.  Surprised the hell out of me too.  It’s actually a NASCAR Modified that runs in NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Series.  Back in the day, NASCAR was split into the “stock” cars, which were street cars with factory bodies, no glass, and minimal engine/driveline modifications, and Modifieds, which allowed for a wider range of tweaks, including tube frame chassis.  Most everyone who reads MIQ is probably too young to know there was a day where NASCAR had a lot of ingenious stuff going on!  And not just Smokey Yunick’s basketball trick either.  Modifieds were open wheel, fully custom oval cars with OEM bodies thrown on top.  It was a wild series.  Today it’s a tightly controlled, near spec series that still uses carburetors because...reasons.
Modifieds are still fun to poke around under though.  Note the thick, Kevlar retaining straps for the uprights to prevent a wheel from flying into the driver or crowd in a crash.  Also check out the huge offset on the right side tires to improve weight transfer.  The steel tubes between the tires help prevent cars from climbing over each other, important for a series with 18” wide tires (for comparison, Formula 1 tires are only 16” wide in the rear).  Also note how the engine is offset slightly.  Not only does this improve weight transfer, but it allows the driver to plain see.  Check out how low the engine is: if it was centered, the driver would have a hard time seeing around the air filter!  If you’re indifferent about oval racing and NASCAR (easily understandable), you need to check out the Whelen Modified tour.  The racing is really good!
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Wednesday, January 03, 2018 5:40 AM
Page 2: "Check out the giant radius arm that runs next to the carbon fiber driveshaft. Not only is it a massive piece of billet aluminum but it has its own spring and damper. I’ve never seen this before, so I’m not sure of its purpose, but it’s cool looking!"

I think that may be some variation of a decoupled torque arm. It allows the nose of the torque arm to climb under acceleration and fall under braking, changing the amount of anti-squat. If so, the damper is probably there to smooth out those changes.
Wednesday, January 03, 2018 4:19 PM
If the modified impressed you then a super modified would blow you away. Take everything the modified is and steroid it up and you got a super. Bigger everything, way more driveline offset and they run fuel injection, just for you. Their performance is spectacular. Best seen in their homeland of Oswego, NY. You need to do this at least once.
Thursday, January 04, 2018 7:54 AM
@lemming: That makes sense. I sort of figured it had to do with gaining more traction on a low grip surface, but my experience with pure dirt cars is pretty minimal.

@Hap: there are a bunch of dirt tracks around me and I really need to go to one. I used to go to Airport Speedway in Newport, DE as a kid and had a blast. Eldora isn't too far. Looks like supermodifieds are asphalt cars, so I'll have to find an asphalt oval. Thanks for the suggestion!
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