Since the announcement of the Modified Touring Series back in December 2015, there have been many questions and a seemingly insufficient amount of answers of what the future of the series would hold for the Tour-Type Modified drivers of the Northeast. When series founder Gary Knight announced the creation of the $15,000-to-win Winchester 200 at New Hampshire’s Monadnock Speedway as an opportunity to kick the series into gear, the questions were replaced with an air of uncertainty and doubt centered around the attendance of fans and drivers.
While Knight’s hopes for a 50-car entry list fell over 50% short, the field for the race was laced with a diverse amount of star power from established touring series from across the Northeast. The roster included a number of fan-favorites and underdogs, including some from Monadnock’s own Sportsman Modified drivers. With no limits on the new American Racer tires and a menagerie of cars from different rulebooks, the action and intrigue more than made up for the short roster.
“I was disappointed in the beginning, but in the end I wasn’t.” Knight told the media at night’s end. “I couldn’t believe what we were witnessing. The passing was starting in the beginning of the event, nobody was half-throttle, the guys were just challenging each other to see who was going to lead this race.”
There were thumbs up for all throughout the pits including those drivers who finished at the top of the board, including race winner Ryan Preece, who like Knight was disappointed in a lack of participation.
“I got to applaud him because there are some people that weren’t ever going to support this event, that will just say things on social media and that’s a little disappointing,” said Preece. “All us guys, we came here, and we want to race these races. I don’t understand why we didn’t have 50 Modifieds here. Why should Gary or anybody else for that matter go out and do this again? Everybody says they want to race for money, we just had a money show and we had 24 cars here. I applaud him and everybody here because the show moved on. This is probably one of the best run races that I’ve been to in a long time.”
This past week Knight told Speed51.com powered by JEGS that he was looking to gain credibility from the weekend for tour and himself. While he admits things did not go according to plan, he believes that the day was a good learning experience going forward.
“I hope I got it, I’m not going to say I have it or I don’t. We did make mistakes, everyone thought we did a great job. I saw a lot of mistakes we were making. But as my teacher, I won’t say his name, told me, ‘you’ll see it and if you don’t see it you’re not going to get good at this.’ We got to get a little more organized, we got to be on top of things, but it was just our first show.”
Knight was very pleased with how the race also reflected the tour’s goal of what he calls bringing the “old school” back to Modified racing.
“Today a racer is a ‘tour racer.’ They forgot what it means to be an independent racer and not have somebody tell you what to do or suggest you shouldn’t do it,” said Knight. “We need to learn to become independent racers because we own our racecars, we fix them, we maintain them and somebody needs not to tell us what we can do with our racecars. That’s what the fans got tonight, nobody told these guys what to do with their race cars. They went in with their heart. They weren’t tour racers, they were racers.”
While the next step for the series is once again unknown there is a belief all around that the MTS will get more attention after its successful first outing.
“I do believe if he has it next year, and I hope he does, we’ll see larger numbers because people are going to hear all the good things we’re saying,” said Matt Hirschman, who finished third Saturday.
Despite not having an answer as to what’s next, Knight made it clear, the series will be back for more.
“There will be another. I want to sit down with American Racer, and I want to sit down and start figuring out what we’re doing next.”
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, LI); Twitter – @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Rick Ibsen