Remember the glory days of those “A” and “B” modified classes at the Bullring? Both ceased after the 2005 season — which was eight years ago — when track ownership opted to basically drop the “B” mods because of declining numbers and group all of the modifieds into one division.
The end result is we now have the UMP Modfieds and the IMCA Sport Mods, which is a great and promising combination that should remain strong for years to come. But I still miss the “A” and “B” mods, or maybe it’s the drivers who made up those classes. There were some great rivalries in the early 2000s: Michael Long and Ryan Meyer, Hank DeLonjay and Sam Burgtorf, Vance Wilson and everyone (just kidding, Vance!) and Tony Dunker and Wyatt Lantz — to name just a handful.
Do you realize even though it was only eight years ago, that among the final top 10 career drivers in our rankings for those classes only four drivers remain active today: Long and Wilson (who is now in a late model) from the “A” mods and Dunker and Kelly Bartz (who came out of retirement this season) from the “B” mods.
There are a few interesting sidelights from those final career rankings in 2005:
— “Hammer Down” Brandon Brown, No. 8 on the “A” mod list, is now a key component in the Team 3 success in the sport mod division. Brown is one of the behind-the-scenes reasons Dunker has dominated the sport mods, almost from their inception.
— Hank DeLonjay, the unquestioned king of the local mod drivers, is the head wrench on son Steven DeLonjay’s championship UMP mod operation.
— Mark Van Winkle, No. 6 among the “A” mods, who lives in Hannibal, Mo., occasionally frequents the Bullring. He has other things on his plate these days and simply does not have the time needed to devote to racing.
— Gary Wilson, No. 10 in the “A” mods, usually makes an appearance or two during the season in a late model, but we have not seen the patriarch of the Wilson family yet in 2013.
— Bob Dale, No. 3 in the “A” mods, is in the pits most Sunday nights helping his son, Brandon Dale, kickstart his sport mod career.
— We heard Greg Uppinghouse (No. 4, “B” mods) was going to have a sport mod ready some time this summer. Hopefully, that will pan out.
— Jim Leffew (No. 8, “B” mods) is the crew chief for son, James Leffew, in the UMP mods.
— Joe Hooper (No. 10, “B” mods) is usually helping out someone in the pits.
Here’s the career rankings for those two discontinued classes:
Our rankings award points on a 15-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis to the drivers who finish in the final top 10 points positions each season. Their career totals in this respect then form the rankings. For current classes we update the rankingsat the end of each division’s points season.
RETIRED “A” MODIFIED RANKINGS (1988-2005)
Active drivers in blue
1. Hank DeLonjay, 200 points (10 titles)
2. Sam Burgtorf, 81 (3)
3. Mike Karhoff, 55
4. Michael Long, 48 (2)
5. Vance Wilson, 46 (1)
6. Mark Van Winkle, 39 (1)
7. Darin Walker, 35 (1)
8. Brandon Brown, 35
9. Jeff Waggoner, 32
10. Gary Wilson, 30
RETIRED “B” MODIFIED RANKINGS (1993-2005)
Active drivers in blue
1. Tony Dunker, 61 points (2 titles)
2. Lonnie Carter, 57 (2)
3. Bob Dale, 51
4. Greg Uppinghouse, 46 (2)
5. Gary Dreyer, 45 (2)
6. Kelly Bartz, 45 (1)
7. Wyatt Lantz, 40 (1)
8. Jim Leffew, 31
9. Jerry Poor, 29
10. Joe Hooper, 26