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Late Model Sportsman photos from the mid-late 1980's
i.e. fibreglass bodied cars
photos of 1970's and 1980's Late Models / Super Late
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order to keep this article to a reasonable size, it will focus mostly
on stock car classes on paved tracks in Southern
Ontario. Dirt track racing started out with similiar classes
in the early 1950's but by the mid-1960's the classes had diverged.
Until that time it was common for a driver to switch between a paved
track and a dirt track with the same car. Not all classes will be
covered in this article. Some tracks had a class that was unique
to them. The article will focus on the common classes that ran throughout
Ontario on the regular race program. Touring classes and series
will be covered in future articles. Although the article focuses
on Southern Ontario, similiar evolution was happening all across
For the first half of the 20th Century oval track racing was done
primarily on half-mile or larger horse tracks, usually located at
a fairgrounds. Many fairgrounds across Canada ran races; some examples
from Ontario were Essex,
National Exhibition , Western
Fairgrounds plus many more.
There were predominantly two types of cars: "Big" Cars
and midgets. Midgets would be recognized today as being very similiar
to a modern midget. "Big" Cars could best be compared
to a sprint car today. The "Big" Cars and Midgets tended
to be touring groups that were brought in by the local promoter
for special events, usually only a few times a year.
The Rise of Stock Car Racing
Walker at Delaware in the early 1950's. A typical stock car
of the era.
on fairgrounds horse tracks started to die out in the late 1940's
and early 1950's as it became clear that the horse tracks were not
suitable for cars. The dust was horrendous at times and the wooden
posts and lack of fencing were dangerous to drivers and spectators.
Around the same time, purpose-built ovals began popping up all over
Canada. They were mostly dirt at first, but many were paved as the
years went on. With purpose-built ovals, it became more feasible
to run a regular schedule with local drivers. "Big" cars
and Midgets were not affordable to the local driver so the idea
of a home-built stock car quickly took root.
Some of those early Ontario tracks included Brodie's Delaware Raceway
(now Delaware Speedway), Ascot Park Speedway (Tillsonburg), Bluewater
Speedway (Port Elgin), Bridgeport Speedway (Kitchener), CNE Speedway
(Toronto), Ailsa Craig, Dayus Raceway (Windsor), Mohawk Speedway
(Brantford), Nilestown, Oshawa, Pinecrest (Concord), Pleasure Valley
(Oshawa), Speedway Park (Concord), St. Thomas Raceway, Ridgetown
Raceway, Warwick Raceway and Tilbury Speedway. Many of these tracks
did not survive past the 1950's but stock car racing took hold in
Ontario and many more tracks were built in the years that followed.
The cars at that time were mostly all 1930's coupes and coaches.
There is a direct line from these race cars of the late 1940's and
early 1950's to the Canadian
Vintage Modifieds of today. There was only one class in those
days and they were just usually referred to as "stock cars"
or "stox". If a track had enough cars, they might be divided
into an "A" Class (the faster cars) and a "B"
Class (the slower cars) but the cars were basically the same.
The Continuous Cycle Begins
Known Super Modified Drivers of the 1950's and 1960's
Sam Snider at Flamboro, 1966
didn't take long for a separate class to emerge. By the mid-1950's
the cars were starting to get cut-down, narrowed, stripped of fenders
and bumpers, etc and engines heavily modified. These cars were the
forefathers of today's Super Modified. These changes weren't happening
at all tracks though - mostly at the more prestigous tracks like
CNE Speedway, Nilestown, Bridgeport, Lansdowne and Pinecrest Speedway.
At many of the smaller tracks, the 1930's coupes and coaches carried
on as the main class well into the 1960's.
Not all the drivers wanted to spend the kind of money that was necessary
to keep up, so in a move that would be repeated thousands of times
over the next 50 years at tracks all across North America, the CNE
introduced a new, low-cost, entry-level class called "Amateur"
and the top class was called "Modified". Pinecrest followed
in 1957, introducing the "Jalopy" class and Bridgeport
did the same in 1958. Amateurs, Jalopies or Hobbies were names used
at various tracks but they were always the 1930's coupes and coaches
that were basically stock. Hobby Car was the name that eventually
continued to evolve in the 1960's until they became very expensive
and became known as Super Modifieds. Some drivers even purchased
a used Indy Car and with a few modifications, would run it as a
Evolution of the Super Modified
Ted Hogan at the CNE, 1956
This was the year that the rulebook was opened up for
the engines. The cars were starting to get stripped
of extra body work - the fenders and running boards
are gone from previous years.
Ted Hogan, CNE in 1957
This was the year that the rulebook was opened up to
any body style. The super modified is born.
Jimmy Howard at the CNE in 1959
photo courtesy of Pamela Stec
Ted Hogan in the pits at the CNE, 1960
Sam Snider, 1965 at Delaware
Lennox in 1966
"Farmer" Al Mitchell, 1967
Lennox at Delaware in 1970
John Clapham (45) and John Spencer (06) at Delaware
first Late Models at the CNE, sometime between 1964 and 1966
As the costs
grew, the car counts went down and they started falling out-of-favour
with track owners and were often dropped and replaced with Late
Models. Pinecrest was the first in 1963, followed by the CNE in
1964, Nilestown in 1967 and Flamboro in 1968. Delaware Speedway
dropped them for 1968 but new promoter and long-time Super Modified
driver Jack Greedy brought them back in 1969 but they only stayed
until 1972. Speedway Park made an attempt to put the Super Modifieds
on the weekly program but this was also short-lived and only lasted
for the 1973 season.
While the Late Models became the new top class at most tracks in
Ontario, many tracks kept the Hobbies as well. Tracks that ran the
Hobby Class in the 1960's and 1970's included CNE (until closing
in 1966), Westgate (now Peterborough Speedway), Speedway Park, Nilestown,
Flamboro, Delaware, Hide-A-Way and Grand River. The Hobby Class
was dropped by some of the tracks and other tracks closed, leaving
Hobbies at only Delaware (where they had evolved somewhat and were
called Sportsman Modified), Speedway Park, Westgate and Flamboro.
By the 1976 season the Hobbies had all gathered at Flamboro and
ran under the organization of the Ontario Amateur Racing Club (OARC),
known today the Canadian Vintage Modifieds. The OARC was formed
in late 1966 and eventually, by the 1970's, had Flamboro as its
home track and often made visits to other speedways.
Mahoney's "B" Modified in the pits at Sutton
As the cost
of Super Modifieds became too high, a new class emerged called the
"B" Modified. Sometimes called "B" Bombers or
"B" Bombs, they were essentially a Super Modified chassis
and body with a 6 cylinder or flathead 8 cylinder engine. It was
an attempt to keep the look of the Super Modified at a more affordable
price. The cost to build a "B" Modified at the time was
about $1000 compared to $3000-$5000 (or more) for a Super. They
only raced at a few tracks, namely: Sutton, Wasaga and Sunset. The
"B" Modifeds were dropped by both Sunset and Sutton after
the 1967 season. The class continued to run at Wasaga until the
track closed in 1970.
Two other new classes appeared in the late 1960's: Mini-Stocks and
Diamonds. The Diamond Class was a less expensive version of a Late
Model. Diamonds originated at Barrie Speedway in 1966 and soon appeared
at many tracks in Ontario. They were sometimes referred to as Diamond
Late Models. By the mid-1970's most tracks were calling this class
the Limited Late Model division. Some tracks ran a Diamond 6 Cylinder
Class as well.
The Mini-Stock Class was dominated by Austin Minis and VW Beetles.
Cayuga ran this class on the small, inner oval. They were also a
regular class at Acton, Ascot Park, Nilestown, Speedway Park, Varney
and Wasaga. The cars were fairly close to stock. They only raced
at Varney for the 1970 season. Cayuga was the only other track of
the group to last past 1975 and the Mini-Stocks stayed until the
track stopped running a weekly program at the end of the 1979 season.
The Cayuga Mini-Stock racers formed the Ontario Mini Stock Association
in 1980 and became a touring series. In the late 1970's
Sauble also introduced Mini-Stocks and Varney brought them back.
A variation of the Mini-Stocks was the Compact Division or Late
Model Compacts that appeared at some tracks in the mid-1970's. These
were preodominantly Pintos, Gremlins and Vegas. Delaware evolved
their Sportsman Modified Division (the old coupes) into the Compact
Division during the 1974 season with the old coupes completely gone
for 1975. In addition to Delaware, Compacts were regular classes
at Cayuga and Flamboro. The Compacts died out by the late 1970's.
Known Late Model and Late Model Super Stock Drivers of the
1960's and 1970's
While the new
classes were appearing, the Late Models continued to evolve at some
tracks. Cayuga started calling their top class "Late Model
Super Stocks" in 1971. Speedway Park was paved in 1972 and
they renamed their Modified Sportsman division to Late Model Super
Stock in 1973 as well. The name "Super Late Model" was
also sometimes used to describe the class. The rules were similiar
to Pinecrest's top division, where they were still called Late Model.
Late Model Super Stocks also ran at Checker Flag Speedway, Flamboro
and Delaware. This top-end Late Model class became the basis for
the Carling O'Keefe Series and the Export "A" Series that
ran in the first half of the 1970's.
In the early 1970's, tracks were introducing a new entry-level class
for full-size cars. They were called Stockers, Chargers, Hooligans,
Rat Sedans, etc but they were the basic "gut the car, install
a cage and go racing" type of car. This class appeared at almost
every paved track in the province. By the mid-1970's this class
was named the Street Stock division at most tracks.
By the late 1970's the Late Model Super Stocks had become too expensive
and were being dropped by many tracks. The Limited Late Models had
evolved and many tracks renamed this class "Late Model".
Street Stocks also continued to evolve through the late 1970's and
early 1980's and they became known as Super Street Stocks or Super
Stocks at some tracks. Eventually the class became the Late Model
Sportsman division in the mid-1980's and the cars were running fibreglass
bodies, load bolts, etc.
The high cost of Late Model Super Stocks or Super Late Models inspired
Tony Novotny from Delaware Speedway to create the CASCAR Late Model.
CASCAR was created in late 1980 and was originally a series for
Super Late Models. Within a few years Novotny changed the rules
so that a CASCAR Late Model was closer to a Late Model Sportsman
at other tracks. Delaware dropped the Super Late Models and replaced
it with the CASCAR Late Model in 1982. Barrie and Sauble also ran
the CASCAR Late Model class for a few years in the 1980's. When
the CNE Speedway made its one-year return in 1990, CASCAR Late Models
were on the card. The class eventually became the basis for the
CASCAR Super Series of today.
So what do track promoters do when the old entry-level class gets
too expensive? They introduce a new entry-level class. In the mid-1980's
when Street Stocks became Late Model Sportsman, the Challenger division
appeared. Again, the Challenger class was a very minimal preparation,
basic cage, etc class.
In the mid-1980's
an even more basic division was created - The Enduro. Enduros were
not normally a weekly division but many tracks ran them on a monthly
basis on a non-regular race day. The races were often 100 to 200
laps with 60 to 100 cars on the track at once. Flamboro often had
over 120 cars in a race. The cars were incredibly stock (basically
junkers) and there was often a $300 claim on the car to ensure that
no one spent a lot of money. The idea of Enduro racing was to have
a very low-cost class to get get new drivers into racing. The payouts
were often huge, with $500 or even $1000 to the winner. Sunset and
Flamboro would have a once-a-year race with $5,000 or $12,000 to
In the late 1980's and early 1990's Late Models were again becoming
expensive, car counts were down and the class was being dropped
at many tracks. The Late Model Sportsman class was renamed Late
Model and the Challengers were going faster so it was time to introduce
yet another entry-level class. This time the common term was "Thunder
Car". Many tracks made a few changes to their Enduro rules
to encourage the Enduro drivers to become a regular runner in the
new Thunder Car Division.
1992 the traditional Late Model only existed at Peterborough and
Mosport. With the Late Model Sportsman becoming Late Models, the
old Late Models became Super Late Models. Eventually the Super Lates
stopped being a regular class at any track and the OSCAAR touring
series was born.
Over the last
few years Mini-Stocks have exploded in popularity with almost every
track in Ontario running them. The cars are very stock, have 4 cylinders
and the rules are quite compatible across the provice. Thunder Cars
have matured so that they are not junkers any more. In 2005 the
Challenger name disappeared. Some tracks called them Limited Late
Models and some Late Models.
The problem with class names has always been that the names mean
different things at different tracks. A Late Model at one track
would be called a Limited Late Model at another. This is happening
in 2006 and it happened 30 years ago. Two tracks would have classes
called Late Model but the rules were no where near the same. Some
tracks used the term "Hobby" to indicate a class that
was not the traditional 1930's coupes. In the 1990's Mosport had
their Street Stock class which was equivalent to the Challenger
class at other tracks but meanwhile Flamboro's Street Stocks were
more like other tracks' Thunder Cars.
Many tracks have had classes that use some combination of "Sportsman",
"Limited", "Modified", "Stock", "Super"
and "Amateur". It was common in the late 1960's and early
1970's to have class names that described the engine type such as
"Flathead 8" and "Overhead 8".
Checker Flag Speedway replaced their Super Late Models in 1985 with
the Canadian National Stock Car Class. It was an attempt for a class
that looked similiar to NASCAR Grand National cars.
There have been numerous 6 Cylinder classes at various tracks. Sometimes
it was a 6 Cylinder version of an existing class. Mosport brought
back the 6 Cylinder class in 2005 with their 6 or Less class. This
was the first 6 Cylinder class in many years in Ontario.
Trucks have never really taken off in Ontario. Delaware currently
has a Truck division and Varney tried one for a few years in the
mid-1990's. Other tracks have allowed trucks to compete in other
divisions in the hope that a dedicated truck division could be spun
Modern-style Modifieds have had a limited acceptance in Ontario
as well. Varney added the All-Pro Modified class around 1989, Delaware
added Open-Wheel Modifieds in 1993 and Mosport created the
Open-Wheel Modified class in 1995.
McIntyre, Delaware, 1950's
Stu Trudel, Lansdowne Speedway, 1959
Bowers, CNE, 1952
Moore, Pinecrest, early 1950's
Models, Late Model Super Stocks and Super Late Models
Cook, CNE Late Model, sometime between 1964 and 1966
Late Models, Sutton Speedway, 1967
Stephenson, Delaware Late Model, 1983
Modifieds and "B" Modifieds
Size Stockers - Street Stocks, Chargers, Challengers, Thunder
Cars, Rat Racers, etc
Kip Sullivan - Pinecrest Stocker Division, 1974
Photo courtesy of Chris Sullivan
#77 Harold Mason, #28 Craig Poppke, Westgate Street
Dave Hayter, Delaware Rat Racer, 1972
Ron Lindsay, Delaware Street Stock, 1981
Challengers, Autumn Colours Classic, 1996
Henderson, Mosport Street Stock (similiar to a Challenger
at other tracks), 1995
Web Master's Peterborough Speedway Thunder Car, 1991
200 Lap Enduro at Sunset Speedway, 1990
The insanity of a Flamboro Enduro, 1990
Harwood, Westgate Limited Late Model, 1980
Clancy Lucan and #02 Cal Heinly, Hide-A-Way Diamond
Unattributed photo from Wheelspin News
Veitch, Mosport Open Wheel Modified, 1997
Jalopy, early or mid 1960's
Dickinson, Westgate Hobby, 1967
photo from Wheelspin News
Speedway Hobby Cars, 1970, Bill Lyons (#9) Terry Dickinson
(#64) and Tony Elia, Jr (#85). Photo
by Ron Melson from Wheelspin News.
Morgan, Flamboro Hobby, 1970
Vic Brooks in the coupe leads Al Patrick in a Gremlin,
Delaware Sportsman Modified, 1974 - the coupes are starting
to give way to Compacts