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Exclusive interview with Rob Loaring
Super Modified is a limited-tuning doorslammer class which was suggested and formulated for the UK by Rob Loaring and Nick Davies in consultation with racers and officials. It is open to doorslammers with normally-aspirated or nitrous engines, and with automatic or manual transmission. Weight breaks have been factored, for example to allow a small nitrous engine with a manual transmission to race a large-displacement normally-aspirated automatic, with both cars of the same weight.
Super Modified is running its first full Championship in 2002. We spoke to Rob Loaring in June 2002, and asked him how he thought the class was progressing.
Eurodragster: How do you think the first full season of Super Mod is going so far?
Rob Loaring: Pretty good, I don't think there's too much to complain about. The nitrous stuff is a bit quick but other than that I think we hit it fairly close.
Eurodragster: We're only a few races into the season and already we're seeing Super Modifieds running into the sevens, did you envisage it happening this quickly?
Rob Loaring: It's not that much of a suprise, I think if Danny Cockerill, Rob Smallworth or Jon Hogarth pull the trigger you could see some mid to low 7.60s. The five-pound bottle was an unknown quantity.
Eurodragster: But if I remember rightly, you don't want anyone going below 7.5? Remind us why that is.
Rob Loaring: First of all chassis certification, if your car runs faster than 7.50 it has to conform to an SFI spec which most of the current competitors can't obtain. The second concerns the level of hardware you need to be competitive. If you have ten people who want to race, eight have £15000 to spend and two have £50000, it's doesn't take a genius to see where you have to pitch it.
Eurodragster: So in year one, you already have a number of racers potentially perilously close to the 7.50 benchmark. Is Super Modified too successful?
Rob Loaring: The last time Nick and I sat down with everyone we agreed that a format which put competitive ETs in the low eights would be about right for all concerned, seven-second ET's would be possible in exceptional conditions but a low eight would put you in with a shout. We set provisional weight breaks for 2001 and 2002 to see who could run what and then make the appropriate adjustments for 2003.
Eurodragster: Weight breaks can be a contentious issue, in US Pro Mod for example. How will you go about resetting the weight breaks without being accused of punishing the most successful?
Rob Loaring: By doing exactly what we said we would, which is to look at the data from the first two seasons and to make the adjustments as best we can. What we're accused of is of no importance.
Eurodragster: What about the nitrous, any plans to change that aspect of the rules?
Rob Loaring: No, just the weight break. We couldn't ask people to carry any more ballast than we did initially and we couldn't expect them to downsize their engines before anyone had even turned a wheel, so the nitrous weight break has been fast. Everyone has had the option of using it but some racers like Ian Marshall and Nigel Payne have elected to test for 2003 onwards.
Eurodragster: So no-one should, or will, be surprised when the weight breaks change and some of the cars slow down a little in 2003.
Rob Loaring: No.
Eurodragster: What reaction has Super Modified had from racers, authorities and fans?
Rob Loaring: Very positive, the cynics are few and far between now. I suppose there's a degree of relief among the people who put their weight behind it early on that it's now as successful as it is.
Eurodragster: Do you think it has had any impact on other classes?
Rob Loaring: Not to any great extent. A couple of cars have come across from Super Pro but it's also brought three or four people back into the sport. The way the technical regulations are written nobody can jump from Street Eliminator or Pro Mod if they're having a bad weekend, I think it's a stand-alone class.
Eurodragster: Looking at the current Super Modified field, have you had any surprise packages?
Rob Loaring: I suppose so. Fred Hone seems to have it together now after using some engine parts last year. This stuff isn't as easy as it looks. I watched Graham Ellis rear-end his tow vehicle at the first meeting last year and you think "Christ, what's all this about" and less than a year later he's running sevens, making .48 lights and discussing clutch seperation and intermediate gear ratios with his crew, it's impressive.
Eurodragster: Is the plan to incorporate Super Modified into the UK National Championships? If so, is there a timetable?
Rob Loaring: It's an official MSA class now so I suppose events will just run their course. I hope so, I think it will be an asset to the sport.
Eurodragster: Whilst I've got you here, how is Tee Rat coming along?
Rob Loaring: Haven't even got a pipe on the jig yet. I suppose trying to start the thing over the winter was a little optimistic as that's our busy season. We caught up with customer work about three weeks ago, and the workshop where it's being built is now empty, so we should get going within the next 2 weeks. We've got just about everything so we shouldn't have to many hold ups.
Eurodragster: I think I speak for every fan when I say we can't wait to see it! Thanks for your time, Rob.
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