Article by "Iver the driver" adapted from the 1988 Oswego Eagle program, Vol. 25 No. 15
Iver gave special thanks to Dave Rice, Oswego Speedway track historian for compiling all the statistics on these six supermodifieds.
Several years ago when local auto racing enthusiast Jim Paternoster unveiled the Jim Shampine supermodified that he restored to its original condition, it got me to thinking. And when I get thinking it can be dangerous. I thought, wouldn't it be nice if we had a museum here at Oswego. You know, like Indy does. And in my mind I began to visualize what it would look like. My chain thoughts then moved on to which supermodified cars I'd want to see in that museum. Thinking back over the years, I chose cars which made the greatest impact not only in racing technology but in proven performance. I came up with six cars, for sure, that I would want to see in Oswego Speedway's museum.
After waking up from my day dream, I thought to myself "hey, self, this would make for a great story." Let's do a little research and find out if in fact these six cars are worthy of a lasting tribute in Oswego's museum. I went to track historian Dave Rice and he confirmed, without question, what I had suspected. These six cars have more or less completely dominated supermodified racing over the 26 year history of this class at Oswego. Matter of fact, with various drivers, these six cars have won an incredible 41 % of the features run here since 1962!
I won't keep you in suspense any longer. Here are the famous six supermodified cars worthy of my Hall of Fame:
First we'll take a look at the these six collectively, then we'll break each one down and look at the specifics of their success. There are a few common threads that weave these successful cars together. The first thing that's obvious is their incredible success ratio. Collectively these six cars have won 10 International Classic races and 16 Track Championships! They have laid claim to 206 feature wins out of a possible 497 as well as 446 top fives. Now look at the longevity of these 6 cars; The Swift car, 14 years in competition.
The Purdy Deuce, 10 years; and 10 years for the Gibson roadster. Shampine's wedge, 13 years; Shampine's offset, 12 years and counting; and the Heveron Super, 8 years and counting!
These six cars were all very special in one way or another and that's perhaps why they were so successful. The Swift roadster was way ahead of it's time and actually paved the way to the supermodified division. from the modified class. The Purdy deuce 1 was the epitome of making the basics in supermodified racing work to perfection. Car owner Howard Purdy was a master at this.
Todd Gibson was the father of the offset roadster in supermodified competition. This car was also way ahead of its time.
Perhaps the greatest overall talent the supermodified division ever witnessed was the legendary Jimmy Shampine. Jimmy created the wedge supermodified patterned after the Indy car STP wedges of that day. Some seven years later he was to completely change the supermodified racing world when he introduced his radical offset car.
Just when you figured no one could do it any better, the Heverons along with car builder Ed Laprade came up with a combination that has proven to be the dominate car of the eighties.
The influence of Indianapolis on the design of these 6 cars and-or on their drivers resurfaces over and over as you will see.
Before we go any farther I'd like to mention two other cars here that were very revolutionary in their design and had they been allowed to compete for any length of time, would probably have amassed an impressive string of victories. They are the Bill Hite 4 wheel drive rear engine creation and the Jim Shampine radical offset rear engine car. Because these cars were so complex and revolutionary they were banned from competition. So I liked to have these two cars for my museum as well.
Now let's look at each car individually and to start it off let's look at the car that started the supermodified revolution here at Oswego back in 1961 ; The Nolan Swift 10 pins. Swift and his partner for many years, Billy Wright (a mechanical engineer for Carrier Corp), took a trip to Indianapolis in spring of 1960 and got some new ideas for a car they were planning to build for the 1961 season. continued on Page 2