Indy Cars and Super Modifieds

Watching this year’s Indy 500 took me back to my childhood. I grew up within ear shot of a high-banked, dirt oval race track. Every Sunday night during the summer, my dad took me to the races. I had an uncle that raced for a few years and traveled the midwest circuit. He was forced into early retirement due to injuries. All that happened before I was old enough to go to the track, so I never saw him race.

All weekend I would look forward to race time on Sunday at Springfield Speedway (Illinois). The quarter mile track ran stock cars, midgets and the occasional destruction derby. But the main event was always reserved for super modifieds. These were very loud open wheel and open cockpit cars built low to the ground. They would slide through the turns spraying dirt from the spinning wheels. I so wanted to drive one.

Photo Credit: Armin Krueger

The track wasn’t much. No box seats, no skyboxes; we sat on bleachers. You went to watch racing. The speedway was constructed in 1947 and attracted a number of racers across the midwest. Once September came around my mom wouldn’t let me go to the Sunday races because of school the next day. So I would open my window, listen to the roar of the cars while lying in bed, and imagine I was in the stands. Below is a shot of the track soon after it officially opened. The final checkered flag came at the end of the 1988 season. You can visit an homage web site here.

Photo Credit: Marvin Scattergood

Today’s Indy car technology is amazing, racing around the track at speeds of well over 200 mph. Despite the numerous yellow flags and some stupid driving errors (sorry Danica), the final few laps could really have been exciting, as the announcers kept telling us. Scott Dixon easily prevailed.

I was never attracted to NASCAR in the same way as the open wheel cars. Most likely it has to do with all those Sunday evenings at Springfield Speedway. Thanks dad.

6 comments

  1. Did you know Marvin Scattergood very well? He and I went to school together, and watched the Speedway being built. Any info appreciated. Dale

  2. Dale, Marvin was not in my immediate circle. Sorry I couldn’t help but best of luck on your search. Lots of great memories for me there.

    1. Cheryl: I too, was sorry to read that Marvin passed away. I worked with him at Ag for years…I also have scrapbooks filled with pictures of our racing days in Broadwell that I purchased from him. He took the best action shots. Before he retired from Ag, I purchased some leftover pics that he brought in when he told me he was leaving. I tried to call Marvin late last year by phone and never could reach anyone, now I know he was probably sick. I hope Donna is doing OK. If you can email me, I’d appreciate it…
      jmahan@casscomm.com

    2. So sorry to hear Marvin passed away. Just got back to this website. I dont know if I knew his wife, but best wishes to her. Dale.

  3. Cheryl, So sorry for your loss. Another chapter in the story of the speedway has closed. Will keep Donna in my thoughts. Please pass along my expressions of sympathy, and thank you for letting us all know through your comment.

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