The Modified Tour’s History
The first season, 1998, there were a total of 62 different cars that competed at five different local speedways. Out of the five races there were five different drivers in victory lane. Brian Swartzlander, was the 1998 champion by just two points over Jeff Hoffman with a point fund that totaled over $10, 000 and was distributed between 20 different drivers.
In 1999, the Modified Tour had a total of 72 different drivers compete at six Western Pennsylvania speedways. For the second straight year in a row, there was a different driver in victory lane for all six races. Once again, Brian Swartzlander won the track championship by just two points over Jeff Hoffman. In 1999, the point fund increased to $12, 150 and was distributed between 20 different race teams.
The 2000 season was a challenging one for the BRP Modified Tour as the rain chased us wherever we went to race. We were able to complete seven out of the eight scheduled races. We also ventured out of the local area this season and visited some tracks that were new to modified racing. Competing at the tour races in 2000 were 60 different drivers and there were two track champions. Jeff Hoffman and Rodney Beltz tied for the first place honors, so both drivers were crowned champion. The point fund for 2000 increased to $21,660 distributed between 20 different race teams.
The 2001 season also had its fair share of rain out events. We attended all seven events; however, the race on May 11th at Sharon Speedway was rained out after the heat races and was not rescheduled. It took three different weeks to complete our May 25th show at Tri City Speedway, but we were eventually able to get it completed. Dave Murdick became the 2001 Modified Tour champion and also represented the Modified Tour series with honors at the Eckerd 200 race at Syracuse, NY in October with a ninth place finish. We had six different feature winners during the 2001 season, with at total of 68 different drivers.
The 2002 season found Ron Smoker the man to beat as he captured four feature wins along the way. Two of the biggest races, the Tony Stewart night at Sharon Speedway where Smoker beat track owner Dave Blaney and the final race of the season at Little Valley Speedway where Smoker beat Kevin Bolland by inches still have the Modified Tour fans talking. Kevin Bolland knocked Smoker off the win list on two occasions. The only other winner was Alan Dellinger who picked up the feature win at Mercer Raceway. A total of 98 different drivers competed with the Modified Tour series during the 2002 season.
The 2003 season found 10 races on the schedule with two new tracks added in the mix. 2003 found 102 different drivers compete with the Modified Tour series at 9 different races, one race washed out by Mother Nature. Ron Smoker and Kevin Bolland came out the big winners of the Tour with each one winning 4 races. Jimmy Weller, III picked up his first career feature win at Wayne County Speedway, Fremont, Ohio in September putting him in the books as the only other winner besides Smoker and Bolland. Ron Smoker was crowned the 2003 Tour Champion for the second year in a row.
2004 saw 10 races on the schedule, but Mother Nature forced the cancellation of two of those shows. This was the first time that the Modified Tour traveled outside the United States and we were pleased to have a field of 44 cars at Merrittville Speedway, Thorold, Canada, with 29 of those cars Modified Tour regulars. Ron Smoker was crowned the 2004 Tour Champion for the third year in a row. There were seven different feature winners with a total of 91 different drivers who competed with the series. The Modified Tour increased the point fund to $22,660 for 24 different drivers.
The 2005 season had a total of 94 different drivers compete at nine series events. Again, six out of nine races were won by different drivers with Rex King of Bristolville, OH picking up three wins and the 2005 series championship. We once again left the United States to compete at Merrittville Speedway where Pete Bicknell was the race winner. Del Rougeux, Jr., Rex King, Kevin Bolland, Brian Swartzlander and Todd Burley were the other feature winners.
2006 found the Modified Tour series staying in the United States and traveling to three different states. The Tour completed its schedule of eight events with no rain outs. Two other races were cancelled due to scheduling conflicts. There were 77 different drivers that competed during 2006 with four different winners. Rex King, Russell King, Brian Swartzlander and Charlie Donk were the big winners. Rex King backed up his 2005 Modified Tour championship by capturing the 2006 series title.
2007 marked our 10th Modified Tour Racing Series anniversary. This year the schedule consisted of 8 different races held at seven different race tracks. It was also the first time the Modified Tour traveled to the state of West Virginia to compete at Tyler County Speedway. There were 59 different drivers compete at the Modified Tour series races. There were 7 different feature winners with Russell King the only repeat winner. Russell won at Tri City Speedway and Expo Speedway on way to becoming the 2007 Modified Tour Championship. Other feature winners included Kevin Bolland, Ron Smoker, Kevin Bolland, Del Rougeux, Jr., Rex King and Jim Rasey. Russell King took his car to Syracuse, New York to represent the Modified Tour organization but mechanical problems kept him from completing the 200-lap race.
The 2008 racing season for the Modified Tour organization consisted of eight races with one being cancelled due to rain. The race that was cancelled was to be a Super Dirt race at Lernerville Speedway. The Modified Tour was to be a part of this exciting 100 lap race, but Mother Nature rained the event out. There were 75 different drivers that competed with the Modified Tour series this season and they averaged 35 cars per event. This season the Modified Tour series allowed a weight break of 100 lbs. for the small block cars and Gary Smoker showed his appreciation to that choice by picking up the very first feature win of the series at Tri City Speedway. Brian Swartzlander picked up the next three feature wins. Then Russell King won as a backup driver for his father, Rex King, Sr. Jeremiah Shingledecker won the next to last race with another small block car picking up the final race win of the series at Sharon Speedway. Brian Swartzlander took the point lead at the first race and held that lead to become the Modified Tour Point Champion for 2008. Brian made his first ever trip to Syracuse, New York to the mile speedway to compete in the Advance Auto Parts 200 with the DIRT organziation. A broken brake caliper bracket sent Brian into the wall in the third turn and ended his run in the race.
The 2009 season was our biggest scheduled season yet with 13 races on the schedule. However, Mother Nature had her way and rained out 4 events. Picking up wins were Rex King with 2 wins, Kevin Bolland with 3 in a row, Dave Murdick, Jeremiah Shingledecker, Brian Swartzlander, Jim Rasey and Del Rougeux, Jr. There were a total of 85 different cars compete with the Modified Tour this season and an average of 37 cars per event. The Point Championship went down to the last race and Rex King, Sr. took the title by 5 points over Del Rougeux, Jr. This was Rex’s third Modified Tour Championship.
In 2010 the Modified Tour had 72 different competitors compete at 12 different races. Rex King, Sr. once again picked up the 2010 Modified Tour Championship making it his fourth championship in the 13 years the Modified Tour has been in existence. Dave Murdick and Jeremiah Shingledecker both picked up 3 feature wins a piece with Rex King, Sr. capturing two wins. With a single win each were Jim Rasey, Del Rouguex, Jr., Kevin Bolland and Chad Homan.
The 2011 season is already scheduled and there will be races in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Currently there are 14 races on the 2011 schedule with the first race coming at Lernerville Speedway on May 20, 2011.